Employee Communication and Input are Critical for Successful AI Projects

By Evan Dashevsky, Senior Writer
July 30, 2018 • 3 minute read

When a company introduces Artificial Intelligence (AI) into its organization, employees may have some anxieties and concerns. Here are three communication strategies to encourage employee buy-in with AI, so all parties can benefit from a new hybrid workforce.

The implementation of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) solution can make an impact on every part of an organization, particularly on its internal culture. As workforces evolve into hybrid practices consisting of both digital and human colleagues, it becomes increasingly important to cultivate buy-in from employees. Here are three communication strategies to consider to bring your company’s human workforce onboard with AI.

Highlight the Benefits

History is full of examples of new technologies accelerating into to the mainstream once users become familiar with their usefulness. For example, following the introduction of the first modern smartphone in 2007, adoption grew cautiously at first before accelerating in earnest. According to Pew Research, smartphone ownership among US adults more than doubled in just five years from 35% in 2011 to 72% in 2016. These percentage shifts are even more impressive when you consider that the total adult population in the US jumped by 10 million individuals in the same timeframe. Adoption was particularly swift among younger adults; a 2018 Pew Research survey found that 89% of US adults aged 30-49 reported owning a smartphone, a number which jumped to an astounding 94% among those aged 18-29. This is a tremendous sea change within the span of a decade.

Once users become acquainted with the benefits of a new technology, adoption quickly rushes towards an inflection point.

The takeaway here is that once users become acquainted with the benefits of a new technology, adoption quickly rushes towards an inflection point. Part of the smartphone acceleration has to do with the introduction of more affordable models, but the more significant contributor is the way it improves the convenience and efficiency of so many tasks.

Acceptance of an AI solution within a company can be hastened when users are educated on the benefits, which can be communicated through internal symposiums, blog posts or brief, easy-to-digest explainer videos. Companies should aim to highlight how AI platforms such as Amelia or 1Desk free employees from repetitive high-volume tasks so that they can concentrate on more meaningful work, which polls show is the high on employees’ expectations list when it comes to AI.

Invite Employees to Define Their Own Roles

There is a tremendous amount of misinformation among the general public about how AI will negatively impact jobs (you can read more about managing employee AI anxieties here and here). Fears of new technological paradigms are nothing new. Similar anxieties were rampant when computers were introduced in the workplace to automate transactional tasks. Of course, today there is both more automation and jobs than ever, particularly roles that involve humans and computers working together.

And now, as enter an age when machines are automating cognitive tasks, humans will work with computers and technology in new ways to form hyper-productive partnerships where humans use uniquely human skills (e.g. creativity, empathy, negotiation etc.), while machines execute repetitive tasks. Invite your employees to define new fulfilling roles for themselves that will build business value within this new technological framework.

Provide Communication Channels to Dev Teams

As with any major technological change, there will be some inevitable growing pains and pivots to find the right fit. As your company establishes an internal Cognitive Center of Excellence (CCoE) to develop and manage your AI solution(s), keep your non-technical employees in mind.

Maintain a clear avenue of communication between the CCoE and the employees who are working with the technology every day. They can be the first to alert the team to any problems that need to be addressed, while subsequently helping your company define new roles and abilities that will build business value in the future.

As history shows, new technologies don’t replace human workforces, they augment them in innovative ways. Be sure to keep a clear line of communication with your employees to detail how the company plans to evolve with AI moving forward, but also take advantage of employees’ knowledge and on-the-ground insights. Together, your human and digital colleagues will work together to make your organization more competitive and productive.

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