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There's nothing artificial about how AI is changing the workplace

June 4, 2018
Borderless Future

If you’re having trouble figuring out how artificial intelligence can make a difference in your workplace, you’re not alone. A 2017 Gartner study found that the hype around AI is making it hard for many users to understand the technology’s true value to their organizations.

However, if you put the hype aside and drill down into some specific ways in which AI and other new technologies like augmented reality can be used in the workplace, you’ll see that they’re already making a measurable difference in a number of ways and that many workers are excited about those changes.

AI, AR Will Make Meetings And Collaboration Better Than Face To Face

Video conferencing/collaboration is just one of several workplace arenas in which AI and augmented reality (AR) are making real inroads, and it’s one that holds a lot of promise. In fact, a recent Zoom survey found that 73% of respondents said they expect AI to have a positive impact on meetings, and 67% claimed the same for AR. Here are just a few of the ways AI and AR are improving collaboration and video meetings today — as well as what we can expect in the coming years.

The New Meeting Scribe: Artificial Intelligence

As I write this, AI has already begun to make video meetings even better. You no longer have to spend time entering codes or clicking buttons to launch a meeting. Instead, with voice-based AI, video conference users can start, join or end a meeting by simply speaking a command (think about how you interact with Alexa).

Voice-to-text transcription, another artificial intelligence feature offered by Otter Voice Meeting Notes (from AISense, a Zoom partner), Voicefox and others, can take notes during video meetings, leaving you and your team free to concentrate on what’s being said or shown. AI-based voice-to-text transcription can identify each speaker in the meeting and save you time by letting you skim the transcript, search and analyze it for certain meeting segments or words, then jump to those mentions in the script. Over 65% of respondents from the Zoom survey said they think AI will save them at least one hour a week of busy work, with many claiming it will save them one to five hours a week.

AR Redefines Video Conferencing

Though its current uses in video meetings are more limited than that of artificial intelligence, augmented reality has the promise to truly redefine and enhance communications in many industries — and it’s getting off to a great start.

Companies like Zugara and Meta (a Zoom partner) offer solutions that let you use augmented reality in video conferencing to share and manipulate 3-D virtual holograms in real time and allow others to interact with them as well. If you’re teaching medicine, your students can watch you demonstrate a procedure on an anatomical model that looks realistic. Or your customers can see virtual replicas of products they’re interested in and even try them!

I don’t see a strong future right now for virtual reality in video communications. The point of video communications is to engage with someone face to face over long distances. If you’re engaging with their virtual avatar instead of their face, you lose this important benefit. With AR, however, you can share, which is the real point of collaboration.

Human Resources See Productivity Gains With AI

While it may seem counterintuitive, artificial intelligence can help enhance various human resources functions. In fact, in a 2017 report, the Human Resources Professionals Association found that 84% of respondents believe AI is a useful tool for human resources.

Textio, a Seattle-based company, provides software that uses AI to help companies write more effective job postings and recruiting emails. And a conversational AI recruiting assistant named Mya helps improve the hiring process for candidates and recruiters. A large retailer noted that the AI recruiter delivered a 144% increase in recruiter productivity.

Improving The Customer Experience

Perhaps one of the most common applications of AI and AR in the workplace resides in the sales and customer experience functions. According to a recent survey from Oracle and Coleman Parkes Research on which technologies will most improve the customer experience, 34% said AI will be the biggest game-changer.

Chorus.ai is an example of artificial intelligence being used across sales and customer service teams. The software records and analyzes business meetings in real time to create visibility into those meetings and then improves performance by helping replicate how top sellers converse with prospects. Wayfair, the popular e-commerce company that sells home goods, offers an AR-based application that lets prospective buyers see how décor and furniture might look in their home — at full scale — using the camera on their smartphone or tablet.

No Longer Just Hype

There’s no doubt that some AI and AR applications don’t seem to have practical benefits and exist simply for the sake of entertainment or saying it could be done — like virtual reality roller coaster rides or Sophia, the first AI robot citizen. However, the use of AI and AR in the workplace is delivering real improvements — and those accomplishments are being welcomed by many users.

By Eric S. Yuan

Source: Forbes

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