Monday, 21 January 2019 IMS HomepageHome

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can boost productivity

For centuries, the most successful organizations increased productivity with technological innovation driven in large part by automating processes. The next great advancement in technology, artificial intelligence (AI), is here and it has the potential of radically boosting productivity by introducing the next level of automation.

The 18th-century saw breakthroughs in British textile manufacturing, the rise of steam power and Henry Ford’s Model T assembly lines fundamentally altered not only how those industries advanced, but how industry generally approached production. This achievement in automating assembly processes had a lasting impact on society, spreading to practically all other industries, and led to the greatest output of goods in human history

The rise of computers over the past fifty years shifted attention from the physical to the mental. Computers have fundamentally transformed humans’ ability to digest and analyse information. This level of automation has grown to the point where we can process data almost instantly. This enables humans to more rapidly make decisions and take appropriate action.

With artificial intelligence rapidly maturing, the next great leap in productivity is imminently on the horizon. In its current state, AI supports human activity by interpreting large quantities of data to more intelligently and accurately find answers. As it becomes “smarter,” AI will become more proactive and will be able to automatically take on repetitive tasks, anticipate questions, and then digest and organise responses to make sense of them.

There is certainly anxiety about AI destroying human jobs, but, that concern is exaggerated and likely very premature. Some roles will certainly be eliminated, but, new ones will be created in their place. AI will likely follow a similar path as its technological precursors. Rather than eliminating human involvement, AI promises to further streamline processes which will support human activity and, more importantly, facilitate greater advancements in productivity.

People don’t like doing the same thing over and over. It burns us out and makes us hate our jobs. When we hate our jobs, we don’t work very hard and make mistakes which, in turn, decreases productivity. With AI, more routine functions can be automated, taking them off of our shoulders so we can be more action-oriented and creative in our workdays. Eliminating as much mundane activity as possible will drive greater job satisfaction and lead to greater productivity.

Many aspects in the business world are still completely manual and repetitive. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. From specific job-related tasks, such as following up on project statuses or scheduling meetings to the very core of running a company such as aligning teams, strategic planning and managing finances, AI will bring smarter automation that will allow us to transform tasks in ways we couldn’t imagine and redefine the nature of how we work.