Powering Workforce Innovation with Generative AI

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Data Society
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July 2023
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Necessity is the mother of invention. This adage holds true in the workplace, where employees across roles and teams are often tasked with delivering products and services for unique situations.  Now, with the evolution of generative AI and the support of their organizational leaders, workplace innovators can harness the power of this technology to discover new solutions to persistent challenges.

Generative AI’s Potential to Improve Human Workflow

Many workers who spend a considerable amount of time managing routine tasks might appreciate the possibilities technology offers for streamlining their workflows. According to a recent survey of workers from across the world, 44 percent of respondents want to play a role in developing AI-enabled automations in their workplace, and 57 percent report that they hold a more favorable view of employers who have adopted AI-enabled automation than of employers who have not. 

Generative AI in particular can contribute to transformative tools for automating repetitive work. By implementing such tools, organizations can help their human workers focus on pursuing projects that are more engaging and meaningful to them.

While anxieties about workplace adoption of generative AI remain, the emerging technology is a subject of widespread fascination. This fact might signal a trend toward employees embracing its presence in the workplace. A survey conducted in April found that one in three US adults has tried generative AI tools. In addition, with the introduction of generative AI capabilities, McKinsey researchers have raised their estimate of time that employees could potentially save due to automation from 50 percent to 60 to 70 percent. The study further notes that generative AI could drive a growth in annual labor productivity of 0.1 to 0.6 percent.

Democratizing Innovation with Generative AI

Generative AI, especially with the evolution of foundation models, is becoming more applicable to a broad spectrum of use cases. With low-code or no-code requirements, it also offers a relatively accessible point of entry. These advances can support the democratization of innovation. Equipped with generative AI technologies and the skills to implement them responsibly, teams can leverage these tools to synthesize and assess ideas in new ways, discover connections between remote data points, and use these insights to conceive novel approaches to the workplace challenges they face each day.

Professionals across roles and industries can customize and expand upon the capabilities of their generative AI tools for improved productivity, communication, collaboration, creativity, and customer service. By applying human imagination and experience to these technologies, workplace innovators can develop original generative AI solutions that set their organizations apart. Some of the ways that generative AI can bring value to the workforce include:

  • Summarizing, classifying, and comparing information.
  • Personalizing marketing and sales messaging.
  • Drafting business communications.
  • Producing responses to customer inquiries.
  • Automating repetitive tasks.
  • Facilitating product research and design.
  • Creating synthetic data.
  • Informing decisions with insights from large data sets.
  • Writing code.

An example of how this technology is helping enterprises break new ground is CarMax’s AI-generated car review summaries, which synthesize details and sentiments about cars to provide prospective customers with easy reference sources. Other examples of generative AI-powered innovations already at work in industry range from applications that accelerate drug discovery and facilitate the development of new materials for manufacturing.  

Nurturing Generative AI-Driven Workplace Innovation

The fact that generative AI is emerging as a potent force for operational efficiency and competitive edge is not lost on industrial leaders. The McKinsey researchers estimate that generative AI could add value equaling $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion dollars each year across the 63 use cases analyzed in the report. 

These numbers offer powerful incentives for organizations to enlist their human resources in the effort to capture generative AI’s potential value. Supporting innovation based on these technologies requires an ongoing commitment to:

  • Encourage all employees to share their ideas.
  • Cultivate a culture that nurtures experimentation.
  • Empower the workforce with the tools and skills they need to progress.
  • Facilitate collaboration across teams.
  • Provide a framework of best practices and procedural guidelines for the responsible use of AI. 

Progress happens when human experience, imagination, and determination join forces with technology. By nurturing their employees’ creative visions and empowering them with tools such as generative AI, organizations can build powerful cultures of workplace innovation.

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