Managing culture change from AI is just as important as managing how it’s deployed

Much has been written about how cognitive Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems like Amelia and autonomic platforms like 1Desk are redefining business practices. When it comes to corporate culture, AI’s impact promises to be just as substantial.

AI will among other things re-prioritize employee roles, reimagine customer interactions, and change how workers collaborate with one another. Here are three ways corporate culture will evolve to take advantage of AI technologies in the workplace.

A culture of creativity

When routine tasks are automated by machines, roles naturally shift to emphasize uniquely human attributes such as creative problem solving. Once employees are freed from the drudgery of executing regimented actions, they can concentrate on innovative solutions. This means that performance metrics will necessarily move away from measuring the ability to perform routine tasks in a set time period (e.g. a customer service rep graded on calls handled per month) toward the ability to create new business value through creativity (e.g. a customer service rep’s ability to find better resolutions for customers).

For example, when AI is tapped to handle routine IT tasks like password resets, inventory maintenance, or routine HR employee issues, your IT staff can invest their time in things like researching and implementing new technologies that will make the company more productive. Automation allows companies to shift priorities away from execution towards innovation.

A culture of experimentation

Another benefit of automation is the ease at which companies can implement changes, analyze the results, and adapt accordingly. Automation allows companies to become more experimental, because experiments that fail to reach expectations can be quickly modified. For example, when a company hires Amelia to bring new features to customer-facing interactions, it becomes far easier to add, delete, or edit steps to the user experience than it would be in a previous technological era. Amelia can analyze results and provide insights in near real-time, which empowers humans to decide whether to continue with the new approach or try a different one.

Workflow changes that rely on human middleware can be an expensive prospect in terms of both time and money. AI liberates experimentation by mitigating unnecessary cost and risk. Companies who encourage a culture of experimentation will also naturally be the ones who succeed more often.

The ‘No-Collar’ culture

AI promises upend the make-up of the traditional workforce. During his presentation at this year’s Digital Workforce Summit, Anthony Abbattista, the Global Cognitive Advantage Leader with Deloitte spoke about the effects AI is having on business practices right now, including what he dubbed the rise of the “No-Collar Workforce.”

“Really, what this is about is the blending of technology, employees, and traditional staffing models,” Abbattista said. “Consultants, contractors – [it’s about] bringing others into [a company] through the use of technology. And some of that’s crowdsourcing, some of it might be forming very special joint ventures, or even including freelancers.” Indeed, a recent NPR/Marist poll finds that one in five jobs in America is held by a worker under contract, with some economists predicting contractors and freelancers will outnumber full-time employees within a decade.

“The impact of this No-Collar Workforce is many-fold – and again AI is driving this – not just because some of the applications that you can apply to this space are AI-based, but because culture is an important point,” Abbattista told the DWS audience. An important engine of No-Collar culture is the addition to the workplace of digital colleagues such as Amelia to form what we at IPsoft have often referred to as a hybrid workforce.

This new mix of virtual and analogue workers can’t help but change your company’s culture – and companies would be wise to start preparing for it.  “I liken this to the shop floor workers at General Motors and other places. They’re very used to working besides automation and technology,” Abbattista said. “So the question is: Are you doing that traditional sort of change management to get ready?”