In conducting 155 in-depth interviews with the nation’s business leaders, GlobalData found that many are looking to AI for improvements in team collaboration, employee satisfaction and overall retention.
Commissioned by Telstra and Cisco, the report, Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace, Australian Perspective reveals that nine out of ten business leaders are already actively considering the potential of AI when making technology purchases. Most are generally optimistic about the potential for technology to automate repetitive tasks to give staff more time to solve bigger problems.
“Everyone's looking for a better way to collaborate, but what we found was that those tools often aren't available within the corporate structure,” says Jeremiah Caron, Global Head of Research & Analysis, GlobalData Technology, who led the research.
“We found that almost half of our survey, had a disconnect between what the technology or IT group is offering and supporting and what staff think they need to do their jobs. That’s a main challenge that leaders are looking to AI to help solve.”
While there’s enthusiasm for AI, the report reveals that few leaders have a concrete plan for implementing such technology.
“What this gap says to us is that businesses need a great deal of help from their supplier community, from their trusted partners to help them identify the tactical use cases for AI, investigate its value and then ultimately implement these solutions,” Caron says.
How AI is Enhancing Collaboration Today
A key proponent of AI in collaboration is Kevin Bloch, Chief Technology Officer of Cisco Australia and New Zealand. He says AI will play a vital role in making our “digital-by-default” workplace more seamless and help people connect when and from where ever they need to. As workers increasingly meet over digital media, Bloch describes Cisco’s objective as making the digital experience ‘better than being there’.
This in particular, is where AI can play an important role in the workplace. For example, Cisco is already providing features that will identify remote participants in a video call, set up rooms and calls as you walk into a meeting room and automatically adjust camera angles and audio settings.
Workplace digital platforms are now able to address significant challenges to collaboration that have traditionally been predominantly manual or physical.
Bloch describes a powerful use-case in emergency services. “Today triage between ambulance, police and fire services in response to an emergency involves bringing people together manually to collaborate. Lives depend on the technology allowing humans to communicate with one another yet there are significant inefficiencies and challenges with current processes.”
“With the right digital platforms, with the right bots, we've got the tools that can make a significant difference now - we can save more lives”.
At Cisco, Bloch says that AI is an everyday part of his collaboration experience, from larger implementations to subtler features inside its collaboration and conferencing products. Cisco technology autonomously undertakes a range of tasks enabling a ‘better than being there’ experience such as facial recognition, noise cancellation and “audio zoom” which intelligently recognises the speaker and adjusts the mic to get the best sound.
Find out what business leaders across Australia think about Artificial Intelligence and how it will impact collaboration and communication in the modern workplace.Download the report
“For deeper integration, bots will play an increasingly important role in automating manual tasks that we really don't want to do ourselves”, he says.
Cisco runs a number of internal bots which provide everything from automated circulation and signing of documents (via DocuSign), to room finding, to an internal search engine (called SalesConnect) which can find presentations, white papers and videos that are required by the sales team on a daily basis.
“People talk about jobs being replaced by AI which certainly is a concern. However, from what I have seen and read, it seems that we need to focus more on tasks that can be digitised versus jobs as we knew them. Bots are a powerful means of digitising tasks, in particular repetitive ones, that we really hate doing. As this happens, we need to evolve the ‘job’ so that people can spend more time on the human side of work”.
How AI will enhance collaboration tomorrow
For many, the dream for AI in the workplace is to help us manage our workload – prioritise tasks, set up meetings, help us manage our inbox. While many applications incorporate some elements of this, there is still plenty of opportunity to take this much further.
Advances in voice recognition, Bloch says will lead to more natural interactions with technology.
“When I walk into a room, I can join a conference, I don't have to touch anything, it just happens because it knows my calendar. If I need to ask questions about my meeting, I just talk to the technology and it replies instantly”. Again, these are examples of making the digital workplace ‘better than being there’.
“I can walk out of a room and the call can come with me. Importantly, I can do this on any device, anywhere, to call or meet with anyone.
“Digital meetings already are a massive change to the way we work. AI and ‘cognitive collaboration technology’ will accelerate its benefits”