Future of Work News

Success in AI Requires Alterations of Companies' Decision-Making Process


Artificial intelligence (AI) has been the technology of the year for several years running. We’ve seen consumers examples of it – in our phones in the form of Siri and Alexa – and we’ve read the promises of what it can do in the workplace: replace the most basic levels of human labor, offload tedious tasks and automate our administrative chores. The problem is, we’re not using it to its full advantage yet.

According to a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, only eight percent of firms engage in core practices that support widespread adoption of artificial intelligence. Most firms have run only ad hoc pilots or are applying AI to just a single business process.

“Why the slow progress? At the highest level, it’s a reflection of a failure to rewire the organization,” wrote HRB’s Tim Fountaine, Brian McCarthy and Tamim Saleh. “In our surveys and our work with hundreds of clients, we’ve seen that AI initiatives face formidable cultural and organizational barriers. But we’ve also seen that leaders who at the outset take steps to break down those barriers can effectively capture AI’s opportunities.”

The authors note that many organization view AI as a “plug and play” application, expecting big things out of solutions they spend little time and effort to install. Instead, AI should be viewed as an interdisciplinary technology that collaborates across teams and departments to address broad organizational priorities. They also have to address their current organizational infrastructure to ensure the initiatives are being driven by data and not leaders who may or may not understand the potential of AI. This may require a complete rewiring of an organization’s decision-making processes.

“When AI is adopted broadly, employees up and down the hierarchy will augment their own judgment and intuition with algorithms’ recommendations to arrive at better answers than either humans or machines could reach on their own,” wrote the HRB authors. “But for this approach to work, people at all levels have to trust the algorithms’ suggestions and feel empowered to make decisions—and that means abandoning the traditional top-down approach. If employees have to consult a higher-up before taking action, that will inhibit the use of AI.”

For more information about the Future of Work and how AI will drive the workplace forward into the twenty-first century, plan on attending the Future of Work Expo in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from February 12 to 14, 2020. For more information and to register, visit www.futureofworkexpo.com.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Future of Work Contributor

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