Harnessing the Power of AI to Prepare Businesses for the Future

By Adam Drew

There’s no denying that AI is becoming a pervasive part of the Canadian workplace. Businesses are setting higher goals and achieving more, faster. A Willis Towers Watson report from April 2018 found that automation will account for 17% of work being done by Canadian companies in the next three years. Today, it accounts for only 10%.

IT IS INEVITABLE that the Canadian workplace will continue to see rapid changes, with 96% of companies expanding their use of automation in the next three years. However, most businesses are unprepared for what those changes will look like or how to implement the tools needed to stay competitive. Less than 5% of companies believe their HR functions are fully prepared for the changing requirements of digitalization – functions that include addressing talent deficits, identifying jobs that can be automated and re-skilling pathways for jobs that will soon be automated. CTOs and HR leadership need to work together to understand what skillsets need to evolve, and where technology can make the most strategic impact. So, the question is, how must we adapt to harness the benefits of AI?

Upskilling Talent

The first component to realigning the workforce for the looming intervention of AI automation is taking the plunge into investments around reskilling the talent pool. The full potential of AI can only be achieved when combined with human intelligence to solve creative, intuitive and strategic tasks. Yet to prepare for this human-AI hybrid workforce, businesses need to invest in upskilling their people to get the most value.

A recent PwC report revealed that 40% of Canadian organizations identified changing their talent model a critical part of their organizational strategy. Further, 46% of Canadian organizations said that a lack of properly skilled teams prevents them from benefitting from digital innovation. To keep up with the pace of this digital innovation, it’s critically important that businesses are investing in their people’s skills early in their career to set them up for long term success.

While this comes with its own set of operational challenges and warrants a shift in mindset, the comparatively short-term financial investment in talent has the potential to lead to long-term benefits of a more agile and skilled workforce.

Abundance of Content

CTOs also need to understand how AI can be strategically utilized to complement existing jobs and skillsets, supporting employees in their roles while increasing their efficiency. One such way is to better take advantage of the content already at their disposal. An implication of digital transformation is that businesses today are generating an abundance of content however it isn’t being used to its full potential. According to Domo, there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day at our current pace. The direction of traffic is one way and we’re only going to see more content in the future – so it’s important that businesses equip their people with the tools to grasp this challenge.

Whether it is document sharing, co-creation or enhanced search through computer-vision technology, we are seeing how seemingly normal tools can be improved by combining cloud and AI. Repetitive tasks are automated and streamlined to be more efficient, leaving employees free to focus on creative problem-solving and strategic planning.

Horizontal Collaboration

Organizational silos are a common challenge for many businesses but can easily be broken down through integration of AI-driven tools. It’s a necessary change to a longstanding issue – ‘silo mentality’ tends to become a bigger issue as businesses grow both in size and complexity, and improvements to collaboration become an invaluable way to keep employees motivated and improve institutional transparency.

The implementation of cloud content management tools is the first step towards a flexible way of working horizontally. The advantages are obvious: Complex and timeconsuming sub-steps of communication processes are considerably shortened, while at the same time, important information and data is stored in one place – in the cloud, making it much easier to manage in real time. Cloud content management can also be part of a whole: the cloud is a catalyst for a host of other innovations that will undeniably change the way we work.

The digital age has brought with it a proliferation of new platforms, applications and new demands for our workforce. Anytime the world experiences a vast technological advancement, we must be prepared for it to change the way we live and work. Adaptation, within any industry, lies in the hands of senior leaders who are responsible for harnessing AI strategies for the benefit of their business.