A Message to Businesses: Invest in Technology — and Your Employees

AI, automation, and rigorous employee training will refine business efficacy in today’s modern workplace.

by Mark Greenaway

posted on 05-01-2018

Do you remember your first computer? Chances are it was a desktop and to connect to the internet from home, you had to dial-in through your phone line. Your printer, too, was hardwired, and if you wanted to share a document before printing it, you’d save it to a floppy disk.

Technology sped up quite a bit over the years, of course, and soon we had PDFs, Firefox and Facebook, and many of our desktops had been replaced by laptops, allowing us to work on the go. Although email, flash drives, and Dropbox made it easier to share files, we were still in our work silos — collaborating on a document meant you had to download the file, add your input, upload or attach the file, then forward it along. We were still printing documents too, especially if they needed a signature. We would print, sign, scan, attach, and email the document, which would be downloaded and printed again on the other side — if a scanned signature was accepted at all.

These days, we carry a computer in our pocket, and on it, many of our important documents — boarding passes, theater and train tickets, even contracts. Like the old desktop, documents have transformed. We’ve gone from a paper-based world to one that’s more fluid, with living documents that promise to transform the workplace.

And now, with the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, there’s no excuse not to make the transformation complete. The technology is available and accessible, and our employees — the people driving adoption and integration — are ready, willing, and able.

Avoiding the low-tech missteps

If you as business leaders are still shaking your heads or, for one reason or another, are hesitant to start with AI and automation, consider this: 84 percent of small businesses still rely on manual processes, and three in five still keep important files in a filing cabinet. Although it’s simple, streamlined, and often anchored in years or even decades of workflow history, many businesses without automated processes would fail in weeks if they lost these paper-based records.

On the flip side, by embracing automation and the employee enthusiasm that comes with new technology, companies can avoid some of the all-too-common pitfalls and losses that can destroy an otherwise sound business. For example, integrating a simple automated backup and cloud-based solution could keep massive slowdowns and business-breaking losses at bay. At the very least, automation can mitigate the risk of a catastrophic loss.

Collaboration through AI and automation

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Collaboration is also a key benefit tied to these fast-growing opportunities, and the cloud gives companies countless collaboration tools, with living documents leading the charge. This not only enables and encourages ongoing teamwork and collaboration but, by creating an always-evolving document, participants and stakeholders can ensure evolution and relevant growth over time. Think of it as Wikipedia versus a printed encyclopedia. Both have value, but one has the power to be truly broad-reaching and of the moment — no matter when the initial draft went into circulation.

Layer in AI and documents like these have the potential to cross office, city, and country boundaries. It’s clear, then, that the benefit isn’t just in reducing risk. It’s also in enhancing employee productivity while enabling deeper insights and enhanced collaboration.

In many ways, it’s the next step to improving team content. With automation and AI working in tandem, documents can truly come to life, with automated suggestions or corrections that are instantly communicated to team members for an entirely seamless, entirely real-time experience. Not only will this increase your team’s productivity, but your employees will see their successes accelerate their career trajectories. How’s that for a boost in morale?

Integrating and activating employees

It’s not just managers and stakeholders who can see the benefit here. Overall, enterprise workers are eager to be tapped for these high-tech advances. Nearly nine in 10 people surveyed said technology makes them more productive, and that enhanced innovation would make their workdays easier. There’s one condition, though — they get the training and support they need to properly leverage these opportunities. Because while more than four in five U.S. workers agree that technology boosts co-worker connections, and the overwhelming majority supports AI technology, two-thirds said they don’t possess the skills they need for a technology-rich future, according to Adobe’s “The Future of Work: More Than a Machine.”

This becomes the one-two punch for companies looking to tap these technologies. It’s not enough to invest in the systems — you also need to invest in the people who keep the proverbial trains running. Invest in one over the other, and either the technology is underused or employees are unable to give their best. The optimum way to benefit from innovation is to invest in the new platforms and the rigorous employee training that, together, elevate and accelerate a business.

What comes next

Today, AI and automation are business-critical, and failure to adapt could drive a company to its breakpoint. The technology and innovation are more actionable and available than they were even a year or two ago — and, equally important, your employees are ready to roll up their sleeves and take this next step with you. They only ask that you give them the training and ongoing support they need to thrive in this new high-tech world order.

Topics: Digital Transformation