Revolutions in technology are always underway. It is the nature of what we do, with constant advances providing us new ways of solving challenges. The question is at which point do you join any given revolution. If you join too early you may enjoy the glory bestowed to pioneers but not necessarily reap all the benefits. Join too late and you will only be trying to catch up.
In early 2016 my co-founder at GreenShoot Labs, Tim Deeson, and I started exploring the potential revolution that the combination of conversational interfaces, automation and access to information could bring about. Fast-forward to (almost) 2020 and it is now clear that through platforms such as Slack (at work) or WhatsApp, Messenger or Alexa (at home) organisations can positively transform how they interact with users and help them get tasks done.
They can use conversations, which are both a more natural and a more widely available form of interaction for humans, combined with automation to provide better access to existing services or create entirely new classes of services while reducing the costs of handling larger numbers of users.
The fuel firing this revolution are artificial intelligence techniques that support the automation of certain aspects of decision-making so we can tackle a wider range of problems at scale. Crucially, this is not about cutting-edge AI that is only properly understood in the research labs of large technology companies or universities.
This is about the judicious application of established techniques in combination with good service design and a deeper understanding of the specific problem space to produce AI-powered applications that solve real problems. In short, this is not about the hype inevitably surrounding AI but its practical application to solve real-world problems.
Over the past year I put together our thoughts around how this revolution is going to affect the workplace in a book called “The AI-powered Workplace”. The premise of the book is that we are at the start of a large-scale transformation of how we do work, with AI as one of the central pillars of this transformation.
It explores what changes are already underway and which are next on the horizon that will affect the type of work we do when we are staring at a computer screen (and how we will hopefully be doing much less staring as time goes by) and coordinating with our co-workers to get things done.
More specifically, it explores how the rise of messaging and collaboration platforms such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Facebook Workplace provide fertile ground for the growth of increasingly more sophisticated applications that work with us in a proactive manner to help us solve problems.
These messaging platforms or, as I redefine them in the book, these “conversational collaboration platforms” will turn into the operating system of our digital workplace. Understanding how AI and these platforms intersect can provide you with a jumpstart towards an AI-powered workplace.
The goal of the book is very practical. To equip you with a solid understanding of what is AI and provide you with decision-making tools that will allow you to chart a plan of action for your team that takes into account and exploits what AI technologies coupled with messaging platforms can offer.
The book is divided in broadly three sections. Firstly, we provide an introduction to AI and a way to think of AI-powered applications that will stand us in good stead now and in the future. We then turn our focus to the application of AI in the workplace, with a specific emphasis on how conversational collaboration platforms motivate and facilitate the introduction of AI-powered applications.
Finally, we deal with the strategic thinking that is required to help you build your own AI-powered workplace by looking at useful principles and methods to develop strategies around data and AI in general. We close with a look at the ethical issues that are raised by the use of AI and discuss some of the guidelines that are being developed to tackle those.
The time to join this particular revolution is now. Organisations that create effective strategies of how they can redefine how they do work by exploiting AI-powered solutions will be able to more effectively tackle the challenges that the complex world we live in will inevitably presents us with. My hope is that the AI-Powered Workplace will accelerate your understanding of the space and give you a head start.
My book will be released on the 28th December is available to pre-order via the following link: