Twice in one recent day I was shown demos of a relatively new AI implementation:
Give an AI engine access to all of your company's files, emails, text chats, ticketing systems, CRM—whatever—then let it tell you how your company runs.
Need to change your employee benefits? Presto!
Who gets your expense report, what forms do you have to fill out, and what do you need to include? Bada-bing! Bada-boom! Here you go, with links, references, and the name and email address.
I'm on the phone with a customer and they're upset that we didn't deliver what we promised. What's in our latest agreement with them? Bam!
You get the idea.
Sounds amazing, right?
You can already imagine how much more efficient your business could be with that kind of access to everything going on in the business.
But it's also dangerously misleading:
What about conflicting information?
When you've made a change, how do you tell the bot to ignore the old process? Never mind what happens when people move around.
That might be how things work right now, but is that really how you want it to work?
So the bot made something that once took 20 days now takes 2. But what if the right process should really only take 2 minutes? In fact, what if it's something that ought to be eliminated, not just less intrusive?
What about more value-oriented work? You know, what you get paid to do. How hands-off do you want to be? How hands-off should you be?
Businesses are often quick to solve internal problems with technology. This new use of AI certainly fits that bill. But just as with so many other technology "solutions" to business problems, beware. Even more than earlier automation implementations, this technology can even more thoroughly mask problems. Then, these masked problems become engrained along with whatever inefficiencies they included and whatever defects they created. Now it's a part of the DNA.
The technology doesn't (yet) actually know what the right thing is for your business. It doesn't know whether work is waste or value.
Does this mean we shouldn't use it? It does NOT mean that. It means that you shouldn't abdicate your responsiblity to understand and accountability to ensure the success of your business to it.
For example, instead of just figuring out how your business currently operates, I'd suggest using it to figure out what the variation and variability is in your operation. Ask it, "how many ways do we do X?" and "what's the shortest amount of time it took us to do X and the longest amount of time to do X?"
Having AI figure out and expose your processes to you does not actually change or improve your processes. That the work could be faster has a value, but it will be a step in one direction and no more. Your operations will still be messy, you'll just have a very efficient way of coursing through it. You might get a little jump in some aspects of performance, but it will not put you onto a continuous path of improving performance.
By all means, take advantage of this new tech. And, be careful not to be lulled into a sense of complacency and declare victory that your performance and capacity needs are met.
Also, feel free to reach out to discuss how to best implement this for your business. The choice is yours: you can be among those who just sic the AI bot onto their company and celebrate, or, you can be among those who put the AI bot in place and get down to real business.