The Importance of the Human Factor in AI Implementation

While AI offers huge business benefits, enabling data-driven decision-making, driving productivity and personalising experiences, to name just a few, unfortunately, it isn’t always that simple. Many decision makers face battles when it comes to AI integration, not least because of internal resistance and a lack of understanding around how best to use it. It can be tempting to use AI just because it’s the technology of the moment, but without the right approach, it can fall flat. This is why a human-centred approach to AI is so important.

If you’re struggling to integrate AI into your business, you’re not alone. However, by redefining job roles, creating a digital ethics framework and focusing on culture and change management, you will be much better placed to reap the benefits it has to offer. By embracing human-centred AI, you can augment your employee’s ability to do their jobs and serve your customers and, in doing so, drive forward your business goals.

How AI is Changing the Business Landscape

Disruptions to the business landscape are no new thing, especially in the digital age. From the PC revolution to the internet and mobile technologies, change has been on a rapid curve for quite some time. However, no technology has had more potential to disrupt industries than AI. While previous digital revolutions changed how we connect and consume information, AI has the potential to fundamentally alter how our businesses operate. AI can enable machines to sense, understand and take action and can take many forms in the business landscape:

  • Robotic Process Automation – automating repetitive, high-volume rule-based tasks.
  • Intelligent Automation – leveraging cognitive services to make automation tasks smarter and able to handle more complex processes.
  • Advanced Analytics – employing techniques like machine learning to uncover hidden patterns, predict trends and make data-driven decisions.
  • Advanced AI – using technologies like deep learning to augment the power of traditional workers in complex situations.

Combine AI’s ability to analyse data, learn and adapt with today’s unprecedented processing power, vast volumes of data and extremely fast network connectivity and suddenly the technology is more accessible and powerful than ever before. It has the potential to not only reshape entire industries, but create entirely new ones.

Fundamental Flaws in AI Implementation

While many businesses have already implemented some form of AI, wide-scale adoption hasn’t happened yet. The problem is that many business leaders are unsure of how best to use it. More importantly, business leaders often miss a fundamental part of the puzzle. To successfully implement AI, it’s not just technology that needs to be managed, it’s people, too. If companies don’t have the right culture and ability to embrace change, AI isn’t being set up for success. Internal resistance to change can be a huge hindrance, regardless of the potential benefits AI has to offer.

If businesses focus their investment on AI technology purely to cut costs and eliminate the need for certain tasks and even certain employees, they’re making a fundamental flaw. AI shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for human workers but rather a way to enhance their abilities and, in doing so, improve business outcomes.

Of course, there are other things to consider, too. Companies need to focus on the business need for AI, ensure they have a robust data strategy and know they can effectively integrate AI systems with existing IT infrastructure. However, none of this will help if the human element has been overlooked. The opportunities for collaboration between humans and AI hold immense potential and avoiding them will limit the value of any AI solution.

Why an Augmented Workforce is the Key to Success

While AI can replace the tasks of human workers, it isn’t there to replace them and, if tasked to do so, will not reach its full potential. When AI really delivers, it is used to enhance human workers. After all, by automating or taking on routine tasks, employees have more time to focus on complex tasks and sensitive interactions. By thinking of AI in this way, businesses put humans, both employees and customers, first instead of technology. This is a fundamental difference. A chatbot can certainly be used to replace call centre agents but people want to speak with people. A much better approach is to use AI to help call centre agents respond more quickly, access the information they need and deliver a better customer experience. In this way, AI is augmenting the workforce and helping human workers deliver a better customer experience.

The Need for a Long-Term AI Strategy

Businesses that truly intend to embrace AI and all it has to offer are going to have to change how they operate, which makes developing a long-term strategy fundamental. After all, AI goes far beyond automating tasks; it can transform business models, from product development to customer service. A long-term strategy allows for gradual, well-planned change and ensures a smooth transition for both employees and customers. Some of the key aspects of developing this strategy include:

  • Job Roles – focus on reskilling employees to collaborate effectively with AI. Consider redefining existing job roles and creating new AI-focused roles.
  • Data – develop a robust data infrastructure, facilitating data collection, storage, and analysis across the organisation. This holistic view empowers AI to make informed decisions and deliver optimal results.
  • Design Constructs – AI interfaces aren’t just about screens anymore. Design constructs should adapt for voice and natural language interfaces, ensuring a seamless user experience for both employees and customers.
  • Culture- foster a culture that embraces experimentation and continuous learning. This allows employees to develop the skills necessary to work alongside AI, maximising its potential for creative problem-solving and innovation.
  • Ethics – develop a robust AI ethics framework that addresses issues like bias, privacy, and transparency. This ensures your AI implementation is responsible and aligns with your company’s values.
  • Change Management – address the need for organisational change, including transparent communication, employee training, and addressing potential concerns.

However, while a long-term perspective is crucial, starting small is essential. Your strategy should identify quick wins, low-risk AI applications that can deliver immediate value and build momentum. These pilot projects can serve as learning opportunities, helping refine your long-term vision and fostering a culture of innovation.

Driving a Human-Centred Approach to AI Adoption

AI is going to make a huge difference to the way that every business operates. However, to be successful, it’s vital to view AI as a way to empower people, not replace them. A human-centred approach to AI adoption focuses on leveraging AI to augment human capabilities, fostering collaboration and ensuring a smooth transition for the workforce. By prioritising human-centred design, fostering a culture of continuous learning and creating a long-term strategy, you can unlock the true potential of AI and empower your business to achieve more.