As artificial Intelligence implementation is on the rise in the United States, education becomes more vital than ever. Aircall’s Chief Technology & Product Officer and co-founder, Pierre-Baptiste Béchu, describes how AI will impact the future of work and steps we can take now to prepare.
Artificial Intelligence has been a large focus of the news cycle for the past few months begging questions such as: Is it ethical? Has it been taken too far or too fast? What about the human element?
Despite these concerns, the ongoing AI race between big tech companies continues to heat up with a steady stream of AI updates from the world’s largest enterprises as they compete to see who will dominate the space. So much so that a group of artificial intelligence experts called for a six-month pause in developing systems more powerful than recently launched AI chatbots such as ChatGPT and Google Bard.
Although there are benefits to these tools, some feel that we’ve taken technology too far and are taking one step closer to eliminating human involvement within the workplace. In fact, recent research found that 47 percent of employees in the U.S fear AI will replace them and 59 percent are concerned about AI moving too fast – showing that we don’t need a pause in development in AI; we need an acceleration in education and training.
Despite concerns, artificial Intelligence has the potential to transform the modern workplace and ease the pressure off of a distributed and exhausted workforce —particularly customer-facing teams for whom burnout is a major challenge. If deployed securely and ethically, it is a tool we’ll be able to utilize to make the workforce’s lives easier, shortening cycle times and reducing efforts necessary by workers. Employees’ fears must be turned into opportunities by making sure they know they will not be downgraded by the presence of artificial intelligence, but by the absence of it. Majority of workers in the US expect AI to deliver value across the board, and with the proper training necessary, 73 percent of employees believe that it will lead to greater sales performance and revenue growth.
The Great Disruption
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the nation in 2020, the typical workplace environment as we knew it shifted for good.
Remote and hybrid positions became the new norm as workers transitioned from their everyday commute to the office to working from home. Jobs were suddenly cut as a result of closures and shortages happening across supply chains as international trading came to a halt. The situation was so dire that supply chain disruptions witnessed a 67 percent increase in 2020, with certain sectors feeling the impact of this disruption even more so. Industries were hurting everywhere.
At the same time, the number of companies shifting to remote work continued to rise, resulting in increased demand for employees and rapidly expanding pools of job applicants irrespective of geographical boundaries. Since then, work life balance has become a number one priority for candidates looking for jobs with 76 percent of millennials saying they would give up pay for more flexibility.
While companies are able to reap a number of benefits from remote and distributed teams such as having a globally diverse workforce, managing a distributed workforce comes with its own challenges. Being able to communicate effectively while being scattered across different time zones, for example, is one complexity which leads to increased stress for employees and customers alike if they feel they are not well connected.
This disconnect is proving to be detrimental for customer facing teams currently on the frontline. Today, 67 percent of customers not only want fast answers, but also want to feel heard and valued, leading to an increased demand for highly personalized and qualified communication. With the workforce experiencing more division than ever before, efficient and reliable communication is vital for a companies’ growth and survival.
As uncertainty continues within the economy, AI will be a major growth factor for companies. It will help eliminate the time customer-facing teams spend on administrative tasks leaving increased bandwidth to concentrate on qualitative relationships with clients and customers.
Democratizing Access to Artificial Intelligence
Small and mid-sized businesses are especially well positioned to reap the benefits of an AI-enabled workplace. Unfortunately, despite being the backbone of our economy, with small businesses alone making up 44 percent of the U.S. economic activity, there tends to be a lack of chatter around how AI adoption has the same potential to transform the SMB workforce, compared to the tech giants of today.
For example, customer facing teams at SMBs are particularly vulnerable to heightened demand and customer expectations as the world remains distributed. These teams also often find themselves spending an abundance of time on time-consuming, mundane tasks that could be easily automated with an AI solution, leaving them with more time to build deeper connections with their customers. At the same time, however, SMBs face unique barriers to AI implementation that go unseen by their larger counterparts. For instance, 57 percent of US SMBs lack the proper technology infrastructure and skill set to implement AI effectively.
As this worry ripples through the workforce and access to the beneficial impacts of AI are limited, employees need to understand that artificial intelligence is around to act as a partner to human interactions and not a replacement. AI has the potential to revolutionize workplace empowerment by cutting time spent on repetitive and time-consuming tasks, allowing employees to focus on higher-value activities. AI implementation is a major win for SMBs right now, as it keeps them agile and productive, while sending a clear signal to employees—we trust you and we want you to empower you with the tools necessary to succeed.
66 percent of US SMBs confirmed they will be investing in AI in the next 12 months, confirming that as advancements continue, more and more companies of all sizes will begin to turn to artificial intelligence in order to empower the modern-day workforce.
But before one can successfully maximize the potential of AI tools, it is important to first ask questions and learn about the technology you plan to implement. A total of 61 percent of employees in the U.S. think there is a lack of understanding of what AI can do, highlighting that education will be critical for success and will help companies fully utilize the technology they have at their fingertips. Employees need to receive education around AI every step of its journey. Not only will this make implementation a smoother transition, but it will empower employees to use AI as an asset, instead of something to be afraid of.
Next, organizations will then need to identify where within their company AI would be most effective and how to deploy it safely and ethically. By determining this pre-implementation, companies will be able to eliminate the guessing game that often comes hand in hand with implementing new technology.
Over the past few years, businesses have faced a multitude of challenges from economic headwinds to labor shortages, and for many, artificial intelligence will be utilized as a tool to help navigate these headwinds and remain on a steady path to growth. While the future of work is uncertain, one thing we know for sure is that AI integration will be imperative in order to keep up with competitors and stay ahead of the curve, no matter the industry.
* * * * *
Authored by Pierre-Baptiste Béchu, Chief Technology & Product Officer and Co-founder, Aircall
Pierre-Baptiste joined Aircall as a co-founder in 2014, building from scratch the first version of the solution’s backend and infrastructure. Under his leadership, the team deploys Aircall’s services worldwide with a strong focus on reliability, voice quality and security. Pierre-Baptiste holds a Master of Engineering from Ecole Centrale de Lyon and a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology from Université Lumière Lyon 2.