It seems you can barely turn on the television, open a newspaper or scroll your email without seeing mention of the phrase “artificial intelligence.”
And while technology trends are often captivating those looking to stay ahead of the curve, the recent fascination with AI—especially in the business world—feels a bit more momentous, and sustainable.
That may be because of how quickly AI has become ingrained into the way our world now works. Take ChatGPT, for instance; the generative AI tool only hit the market last fall and, within five days, reached a million users and became the fastest-growing app in history. With an appetite like that, it’s clear that AI is not just a fad.
And it’s already proving its value. According to Forbes, business leaders are putting AI to work across their organizations. Nearly half have looked to the technology to assist with communicating with their workers, while even more use AI to manage fraud risk and cybersecurity issues. Looking ahead, about one-third plan to leverage ChatGPT, in particular, to create content for the organizational website, and nearly two-thirds see the potential for AI to communicate and strengthen relationships with customers.
But the benefits of AI in the workplace don’t completely overshadow risks. For instance, the research in Forbes found that more than 40% of business leaders are worried that their organizations and workforces could become overly dependent on the technology.
How can employers guard themselves against over-dependency on AI? Like most other business problems, it all comes down to strategy—in particular, strategy that is forward-thinking and prioritizes transparency, feedback and flexibility.
Creating an AI strategy
AI quickly became disruptive—individual contributors and leadership are all already using it every day—and many organizations weren’t prepared for how quickly it made its way into their workplaces. So, now—actually, yesterday!—is the time for leadership to huddle and create solutions for effectively using the technology in their workplaces.
This should involve formal efforts: Create an AI Council, for instance, to evaluate which areas of the business could leverage the technology and how—as well as ways to keep the business from becoming too dependent on the technology. Such a group should include representatives from across the business—HR, legal, IT and more—who can offer insights into the wide-ranging impacts of AI on the business. This can lay the foundation for written policies and procedures guiding the use of AI in the workplace, which should be clearly and consistently communicated to all employees.
Feedback can also be an important factor in designing an AI strategy. Leadership should ask for—and react to—the opinions of the workforce about how their jobs can be strengthened by emerging technology. And soliciting feedback shouldn’t be a one-and-done effort: AI remains a relatively new entrant to the workforce, and leadership will need to continuously revisit its AI strategy, and understand how employees are being impacted, as the technology continues to develop.
No matter how advanced AI becomes, experts say, it will never fully replace the need for human leadership. AI needs to be trained by humans, it needs to be monitored by humans and its risks need to be mitigated by humans. That means that it’s up to today’s business leaders to strategize for a workplace that marries the work of AI and humans—leveraging the strengths both bring for the good of the entire organization.
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