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Embracing the power of the AI co-worker

Andrew Lawson Profile picture for user alawson September 26, 2018
Summary:
Andrew Lawson discusses one of the topics to be prominent at this year's Dreamforce in San Francisco: AI and its role in the workplace.

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Andrew Lawson

We have become obsessed with predicting the future. And why not? Technology is now progressing at such a fast rate, life-changing innovations seem to be hitting our shelves, phones and even our office desks almost every day. Thinking about what’s next used to be measured in decades or, at best years. But with the arrival of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it can now be measured in months, weeks or even days. ‘The future’ is closer to us than it has ever been.

I've seen conversations about Artificial Intelligence (AI) divided between those who feel like it will change our future world for the better, against those who feel like it’s set to take over our all our jobs in the long-term.

The latter couldn’t be further from the truth. But it’s understandable when you look at where these anxieties come from. As the technology has continued to develop, we as people have had to come to terms with the fact that AI is now capable of carrying out tasks that we once regarded as ‘fundamentally human’. The idea of relinquishing this kind of control in daily working life has led some of us to worry about replacement. After all, why would our company need us if AI will be able to handle everything our job demands and more? What we need to realise is that AI is not about losing jobs, but about workplace evolution and new opportunities.

The age of the customer

We’ve known that the customer is always right for a long time. It’s an adage that stretches back decades. And now, thanks to AI, we’re better placed than ever to understand how the customer is right and when. We can anticipate and personalise customer needs before they even realise what they are. Customers know it too - they have become used to this level of service as the norm.

Exceptional customer experience has become a key competitive differentiator, built on predicting customer demands and delivering them at just the right moments.

Without AI and machine learning capabilities, delivery of this kind of customer experience just does not happen. There is simply too much data to process and understand, and our human minds alone are not able to comprehend and process this level of technical complexity. But a human touch is essential for understanding what to do next with the data and deliver - and this is where we are seeing workplace roles beginning to evolve.

Augmenting the workplace

AI is becoming the key to augmenting intelligence in the workplace, allowing employees to focus on more productive, high-level work which benefits both themselves and their customers equally. Salesforce Einstein is already helping to automate the mundane tasks that these workers could ideally do without, empowering them to focus on higher-level analysis and the exceptional standard of customer experience required to stay ahead of competitors.

The US Bank is a great example of these benefits in practice. Using Sales Cloud Einstein and Einstein Discovery, the US Bank can predict which of their prospects are most valuable in the sales cycle and create more personalized customer journeys. Based on the financial goals, centre-of-influence relationships, life events and other variables for each customer, Salesforce Einstein can provide relationship managers and loan officers with next-best-action recommendations, leading to higher levels of customer satisfaction and retention.

This AI technology hasn’t replaced relationship manager and loan officer seats in the office, but rather ‘sits’ next to them as their ideal co-worker. The supportive role AI can play in the workplace is an ongoing discussion.

Skills for success

The skills needed to use such technology also aren’t as difficult to adopt as you might think. In fact, they’re incredibly easy to learn and apply in the workplace. A CRM solution worth its salt will ideally already be incredibly intuitive, and straight-forward for anybody hoping to use it for their specific business needs. But when further training is needed, a range of training programmes are now available that can walk users through the technology and how to get the most from it for their business.

For our part, we have Trailhead - an intuitive online learning platform that is free for anyone to use. Since it launched in 2014, users have earned more than 10 million badges, and unlocked new avenues for career growth – all by learning the skills they need to take advantage of technology. With the much talked about skills gap hanging over the UK, programmes like Trailhead can be of real benefit to people looking to build their digital skills knowledge and grow their career.

Conversation about AI might be able to divide a room. But it’s time to shift the discussion and accept that AI is a fundamentally positive force for businesses. Usage may require additional training, but the benefits for both employees and customers can be massive.

 

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