How to Use AI to Help (Not Replace) Your Staff

How to Use AI to Help (Not Replace) Your Staff

By on May 23, 2024 in Artificial Intelligence, IT Consulting

AI seems to have taken the world by storm. The business and technology media are brimming with optimism, often showering praise on large language models like ChatGPT and Google Bard, image generators like Midjourney, and writing tools like NovelAI, along with a long list of similar tools that have emerged in the last year.

There’s no doubt AI is a game changer for small businesses, but we also feel strongly that AI should help your team thrive, not replace human ingenuity and creativity. We thought it’d be helpful to review some of the new AI technologies and explore practical ways that small and medium-sized businesses can start to leverage these tools to help their team get more done.

The Cyborg, the Centaur, and the Luddite

Before you embark on AI adoption, it’s important to understand your employees and their natural approach toward adopting AI in their work. We didn’t invent the following three archetypes, but we feel they do a good job of encapsulating most people’s attitudes.

The Cyborg: These employees are tech-enthusiasts and are eager to incorporate the latest technologies into their workflow. With their eagerness to experiment with new tools, they look forward to AI extending their capabilities and seamlessly integrating it into their workflow.

The Centaur: These employees balance human skills with AI assistance. They leverage AI to enhance their capabilities but rely on their own expertise for tasks best suited for humans while retaining a clear boundary between human and AI contributions.

The Luddite: These employees are hesitant or resistant to adopting new technology due to concerns about technology overpowering the human element in work. They prefer traditional methods and may require more support and training to embrace AI tools.

It’s vital for both businesses and employees to understand that the future of work is not an AI-or-nothing proposition.

As research from MIT Sloan points out, “When artificial intelligence is used within the boundary of its capabilities, it can improve a worker’s performance by as much as 40% compared with workers who don’t use it. But when AI is used outside that boundary to complete a task, worker performance drops by an average of 19 percentage points.” Therefore, businesses must understand these personas and delegate tasks to staff and AI in a way that complements their efforts.

Empower Customer-Facing Teams

Customer experience is paramount for every business. After all, customer interactions with your service reps shape their experiences and perceptions of your brand. This can mean the difference between a happy, satisfied customer that brings in repeat business versus a disgruntled one. However, customer experience and employee experience are deeply intertwined. After all, the happier and more satisfied your employees are, the better they can serve your customers. With vast knowledge bases and employee software being dated and difficult to use, this creates bottlenecks and hinders your reps from being able to do their jobs.

While AI has already affected the jobs of customer service reps, there’s still an irreplaceable need for the human interaction they deliver.

Take the help desk function at Astute Technology Management, for instance.

The human touch is essential in these interactions that are nuanced and require expert assistance. Replacing those interactions entirely with AI wouldn’t be ideal. However, AI-powered knowledge management offers a compelling alternative that strengthens your team instead of replacing it.

By analyzing past interactions, AI-powered knowledge management helps agents anticipate employee needs and resolve issues faster. It can automatically update the knowledge base with new solutions as they are discovered, and even identify areas where content might be missing. This ensures that CSRs always have the most accurate information at their fingertips. Additionally, AI can empower agents to deliver personalized and empathetic responses.

Enhance Decision Making

Although there’s talk about AI replacing CEOs, we don’t think that’s coming anytime soon. However, there are many areas where AI can help strengthen business decision making.

Inventory Management and Resource Planning
Inventory management is a tricky act to balance. Businesses must consider historical trends and current resources, while predicting future needs to keep the supply chain running smoothly. At the same time, they also need to prevent overstocking and stockouts. When you add in external vendors, complex procurement structures, and personnel coordination, the tasks can quickly become overwhelming.

AI-powered tools can forecast demand and provide real-time insights and predictions, easing the burden off employees. This also ensures that you have enough stock to meet customer needs without tying up too much capital in inventory. Incorporating AI into your resource-planning process allows for better allocation of staff, equipment, and budgets, ensuring that your business runs smoothly and can adapt quickly.

Decision Support and Augmentation
It’s getting increasingly harder for decision makers across all industries to gain the right insights from their data.  Businesses today have access to an unprecedented volume of information, but transforming the data into insights at the right time can be extremely challenging.

Here, tools like WatsonX or Microsoft Azure AI can support decision making by providing data-driven insights and recommendations. They can analyze vast amounts of data to identify trends, opportunities, and risks that might not be immediately apparent to human analysts. These insights can make all the difference in staying ahead of the competition.

Strengthen Cybersecurity and Compliance

If there’s one common theme in the security industry worldwide, it’s that security teams are grappling with a shortage of skilled personnel. With the advent of increasing data, threats, devices, and alerts, it’s getting increasingly difficult for understaffed, resource-crunched security teams to stay on top of threats.

With hackers using AI, companies can’t afford to ignore it. Pillsbury’s report highlighted that 44% of global organizations are already leveraging AI to detect security intrusions. From building secure applications from the ground up to identifying suspicious activity and predicting potential attacks, AI allows organizations to take preventative measures.

It brings a few powerful advantages to cybersecurity: scale, speed, and intelligent analysis.

Whereas a human analyst can analyze an email and its context, language, URL, attachments, and behavior anomalies, AI-powered email filters can identify these suspicious indicators at scale. It can block phishing attacks before they reach your employees’ inboxes, reducing the risk of a successful attack.

This extends to log review and network monitoring, two critical functions in cybersecurity. From continuously monitoring network traffic and user behavior 24/7 to sifting through logs, identifying patterns, and highlighting potential security incidents that need urgent attention, integrating AI into your security chain can significantly improve your resilience while easing the burden on security analysts and helping them work more effectively.

It can even help with regulatory compliance by automatically monitoring and auditing activities to ensure that they meet the necessary standards.

Get the Right AI Tools and Support for Your Business

The Astute Technology Management team of IT consultants has been helping businesses in Columbus and Cincinnati adopt the technologies they need to beat competition for decades. If you’d like to make the most of your budget and get the right AI tools to thrive, contact us anytime at [email protected] or 614 389 4102. We look forward to speaking with you!