Striking the Right Balance: Humans and AI in a Transformative Era

Striking the Right Balance: Humans and AI in a Transformative Era

In Uncategorized by Roger Lewis

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Generative AI is set to revolutionise the workforce, dramatically changing what we do and how we do it. As we enter this new era of generative AI, business leaders face the difficult task of discerning how to implement the technology alongside their workforce—and whether it will replace certain positions altogether.

As companies look for ways to tap the awesome potential of generative AI, it’s important to remember that the value of human expertise is sometimes difficult for non-specialists to identify and value. Right now, many companies are looking for ways to fit AI into every nook and cranny of the business where it could add value. That’s a huge error.

Using generative AI as a replacement or substitute for human input may create some short-term gains. However, if this process is not handled carefully, it will certainly create costly—potentially catastrophic—mistakes.

In Praise Of Humans

Human experience and expertise aren’t always noticeable to key stakeholders, but they can leave a gaping hole in your business once they’re gone.

I believe that generative AI is set to replace many more functions than roles. In other words, generative AI may outright replace some jobs, but the technology will enhance many more. In the latter case, generative AI will replace particular job functions but not the roles themselves.

Determining which functions require a human touch and which don’t is a complex and high-stakes endeavor. This sorting process is one that companies have to get right.

Every company will have access to generative AI, but their people, products, processes and culture represent the unique, differentiated elements of every business. The firms that rush into replacing humans with generative AI risk losing those key differentiators.

Start Small, Start With Value

With any AI implementation, the fastest and lowest-risk ways to realise value involve starting small (finding simple ways that AI can generate value) and building from there.

With generative AI, start by targeting repetitive and mundane tasks that consume valuable human resources. In many instances, generative AI can free up time and allow employees to focus on high-value activities requiring human expertise. These low-hanging opportunities for generative AI are where businesses can, and should, execute changes immediately.

Just keep in mind that many roles that seem ripe for automation can involve complex decision making, nuanced judgment or emotional intelligence that cannot be duplicated (at least, for now) with generative AI. These could include:

• Content writing. Generative AI can generate written content with speed, but it falls short when it comes to integrating humor, insight or nuance. It can also often create content that sounds authoritative and credible but is actually inaccurate.

• Data analysis. Algorithms can process and analyse vast amounts of data on demand faster than humans. However, the technology often produces findings that are exactly what has been requested but not what is needed by an audience looking for emerging trends.

• Translators. Generative AI can facilitate real-time language translation, potentially replacing the need for human translators in certain scenarios. However, this can lead to potential cultural snafus due to an inability to read body language, cultural sensitivities or nuanced communications.

Businesses must recognise and preserve vital human touchpoints in these instances and many others for building trust, providing personalised care and delivering exceptional customer experiences.

Managing Change In The AI Revolution

To effectively navigate change management in the era of generative AI, companies must develop a deeper understanding of their offerings and customer expectations. This understanding will help them identify the areas where generative AI can provide value and where human interactions are indispensable.

Half of this effort should focus on getting an understanding of the value the customer receives through an organisation’s offerings. Companies can get this understanding through customer and prospect surveys and interviews.

The other half involves a transparent approach to how the company will leverage new technology, tapping employees to identify opportunities for value-adds using generative AI.

Concrete steps should include the following.

• Understand before you execute. Start by thoroughly assessing your organisation’s existing processes, roles and tasks.

• Your best experts are human. Involve your company’s subject matter experts and domain specialists to contribute their insights and knowledge.

• Deliver quick wins. Identify the tasks and processes within your organisation that can be easily automated or enhanced through generative AI.

• Relentlessly prioritise. Prioritise generative AI projects based on their potential impact and alignment with your strategic objectives.

• Move beyond good intentions. Adopt a deliberate and phased implementation strategy for larger, more ambitious generative AI projects.

• May the most productive win. As you introduce generative AI, invest in training and upskilling programs.

• Disruptive transformation needs clear communication. Implement a robust change management strategy to facilitate a smooth transition and manage employee concerns.

• Ride the feedback loop. Regularly monitor and evaluate the performance and impact of generative AI systems.

Finding A Balance

Generative AI presents both opportunities and challenges for companies undergoing major transformations. Striking the right balance between automation and human interactions is crucial to safeguard brand reputation, preserve customer trust and drive sustained business success.

By embracing generative AI strategically, understanding the nuances of its application and recognising the value of human expertise, businesses can navigate change management effectively, seize opportunities and stay ahead in an era of transformative technology.

Companies must exercise caution and conduct thorough assessments when venturing into more ambitious generative AI projects. A misstep in automating interactions that require human empathy, experience and understanding—particularly customer interactions—can have severe consequences, damaging the brand and eroding customer trust.

With a plan in place, companies can move from minor improvements to big wins with generative AI.

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