Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already providing a return on investment for many brands, with more than 80% of decision-makers surveyed for the 2020 Global Growth Index reporting that AI insights delivered business value in two years or less, and around 90% confirming that AI is driving business growth.
As we learn to work alongside AI, the technology is reshaping the organizational chart by liberating workers, transforming roles and flattening top-down company hierarchies. As these advances in structural changes are becoming more apparent, many questions arise.
“What does AI mean to people? How do their roles change compared to how they were doing things before? Will they work fewer hours, will they be more productive?” asks Kriti Sharma, VP of Product at GfK.
The technology ingests enormous volumes of previously siloed data, connecting the dots to expose patterns and trends that it uses to power AI insights, predictions and recommendations. Its huge processing power means AI is capable of generating a holistic, 360-degree view of business performance and operations in a way that has never been possible before.
It is clear increased collaboration between teams is an important goal for businesses. Almost half of executives are taking significant steps toward making their organizations more cross-functional and another 37% say they are working to focus individuals more on teaming and tasks, less on functions. By unifying previously separate teams through access to data, AI insights can support companies in fostering collaboration both within and between teams, redrawing organizational charts.
AI generates insights that are relevant to multiple business functions and packages them into digestible formats that everyone can understand. In this way, teams have access to actionable data that was previously off-limits. For example, predictive analytics on consumer purchase behavior not only guides marketing, it also informs pricing, product and supply chain management. And demand forecasts that were previously siloed to operational teams can be used by sales to tailor their approach. For example, telecoms manufacturer Infinera uses machine-learning to analyze production times and logistics to better predict delivery dates. AI insights are provided to sales teams and customers so they know what products are available and when they can be delivered.
Some 44% of companies are empowering knowledge workers by having AI shoulder the burden of repetitive tasks, according to Forbes Insights. And as many as 60% of respondents to a Deloitte survey say their organization is using AI to assist workers.
“It will be tasks that are automated as opposed to entire jobs,” says Sharma. “Their role might be less about data-crunching and more about defining strategies and creating an environment where everyone can implement those strategies.”
The business value of AI insights extends beyond productivity wins and cost-cutting. By releasing skilled workers from lower-value tasks, companies can redeploy talent to other, more lucrative parts of the business, such as those focused on innovation thereby changing the fabric of the company’s organizational chart.
AI in combination with automation enables businesses to reap the benefits of greater efficiencies with valuable insights, equipping multiple teams with the data they need to continually innovate their approach in response to evolving customer needs. For example, the Starbucks mobile app captures huge amounts of data such as what, where and when users are buying their coffee. It uses AI insights to make personalized recommendations that even account for factors such as weather, time of day and store inventory. And the brand uses this same intelligence to identify new store locations, update its menus and expand its product lines.
Chatbots and other customer service channels generate huge amounts of data from direct interactions with customers. AI can capture this unstructured data and turn it into powerful insights for multiple teams. Marketers can use it to craft campaigns, product teams to improve design or identify new lines, and sales teams to re-define their pitch.
According to Forbes, 15% of executives want to flatten their organizational charts to improve agility and speed up decision making. By consolidating data and packaging it into digestible insights, AI reduces hierarchies and democratizes decision making. Where once technical data could only be understood by engineers, AI makes it accessible to everyone, fostering collaboration where it wasn’t possible before and enabling decisions to be made much faster.
Unilever launched an online talent marketplace for its employees that uses AI to help them spot new opportunities and areas for upskilling. The marketplace aims to break down organizational silos and democratize learning through greater transparency and access to opportunities, while also fostering innovation. The company says it’s already seeing the benefits, citing the example of one of its US brand managers who is now working on an innovation project in Europe after using the system to find experience in another market.
Find out more about the power of predictive insights, AI decision making and the human-machine partnership that is transforming the modern business world.
AI insights have the power to fuel cross-pollination within organizational structures, transforming teams into collaborative, lean and agile units that can adapt quickly to changing environments. But it is the human mind that puts the beating heart behind AI.
“We are finding that happy balance between humans and machines working together,” explains Sharma. “AI can accelerate business transformation, uncover insights and help companies chart a course.”
Whether it’s spotting opportunities from the data or using it to drive better decision-making, companies need to empower their employees to come together and share in the benefits that AI insights can bring.
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