Will AI make you and your employees instantly more productive? Not necessarily.

Practically every article on generative AI affirms employee productivity as its reason for existence. Apparently, we’re going to be falling over ourselves with efficiency. But when it comes to productivity, we say, ‘Whoa, hold your horses’; you’re thinking about running before you can even walk.

According to the hype, generative AI is an easy cure-all for accelerating the resolution of pretty much every problem or challenge. It’s not.

The path to true productivity requires your business to identify how and where AI will add value and how you’ll ensure your people have the capability to use it. This requires human thought, intelligent decision-making and strategies, governance, security, and purposeful learning—before you even think about the ‘P’ word.

Direction, vision, and training will transform generative AI from a valuable and fun tool (much as Mr Clippy, the world’s most hated virtual assistant, was intended when Bill Gates launched it in 1995) to a business powerhouse. It will be what turns many workers (but not all) from relatively productive team members to highly productive, highly paid, and invaluable employees – eventually.

However, generative AI has its limits – and understanding these is important. In a recent CIO article, they reference a new study that concludes, “Productivity increases are particularly notable in areas where the AI is proficient, but when it’s used for tasks beyond its ability, it can fall dramatically.”

Along with ‘Productivity’ results based on an experiment involving more than 700 consultants who work at an American global management consulting firm, CIO observed that below-average consultants benefitted the most, while those more skilled benefitted least. Tellingly, they observed, “For tasks beyond the capabilities of gen AI, consultants saw a 19% decline in performance.”

Launching generative AI tools on your employees without training, a strategy, or a purpose can have a detrimental impact on your business. Consequences can range from collective employee resistance to using AI tools in the workplace due to the perception of job losses, to tarnishing your brand through poorly curated content, or raising trust issues in the C-Suite with compromised ethics and obscured transparency.

Failing to invest in governance and training means that your employees may struggle to interpret gen AI insights accurately. Or they could expose sensitive information such as Personal Identifiable Information (PII) or company IP. Poor outcomes can include misinformed decisions, data breaches, and missed opportunities. And your data security can be compromised.

As one of our own senior managers said in a recent meeting, “When you bring on a new hire, you expect low productivity for six months as they get up to speed and take the time to understand the business and how and why we work. And generative AI is today’s new team member. Expect downtime and mistakes.”

We’re not saying that generative AI isn’t great - because it is. But you need to lay the groundwork to support your business vision and drive valuable outcomes, not let overenthusiasm create chaos.

Yes, generative AI will make the boat go faster. But it will take discipline and time. And an AI-savvy technology partner who can help you lay down the careful, strategic groundwork is needed to get it up to speed and earn its keep.

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2024 April
Great outcomes start with great conversations


Great outcomes start with great conversations

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