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AI and workplace automation

Whilst I’m not much of a believer in trickle-down economics, I’m a firm believer in the power of trickle-down technology.

Business along with the rest of our civilisation, is undergoing a rapid transformative period as a new raft of technological advances become accessible to the masses. Artificial intelligence (AI) and workplace automation, often the antagonists in dystopian fiction, are now becoming real actors, and having a profound impact on our lives. Whether you choose to look at self-driving cars, or the relatively simple algorithms that control your automated marketing campaigns, you will find evidence of these new technologies everywhere you look.

It is generally accepted that this trend towards automation is only gaining in momentum. Virtually every aspect of business from customer service, to production, and even accounting, is undergoing some type of transformation as technology becomes increasingly sophisticated. While Karen in accounts probably won’t walk into the office one day, and be expected to train her robotic replacement, it's likely that machine learning algorithms are already at work in the background, analysing the intricacies of her daily tasks and building up the library of knowledge necessary to eliminate many of the repetitive actions currently being performed.

Here are some of the technologies that your business should probably be looking at as part of your digital transformation journey:


Chatbots are a vital tool in increasing efficiency while decreasing overhead costs. A chatbot can use personalised information for each customer it speaks to, allowing it to provide real-time, valuable assistance or service in a targeted and friendly manner.

Some of the ways in which a chatbot can be utilised within your business include:

  • as a personal assistant (helping to keep your calendar and emails under control)
  • gathering feedback (solicit real-time feedback without having to call a meeting)
  • news and reminders (keep your team fully up to date on industry news, internal meetings and more)
  • automating business processes (update sales order statuses, cross and up-sell customers).

Talent acquisition

According to McKinsey’s Delivering Through Diversity Report, companies with the most ethnically diverse executive teams are 33% more profitable, with similar figures for teams with a balanced gender makeup. However both women and ethnic minorities remain under-represented, pointing to a big opportunity for companies willing to address the issue.

Unconscious bias is often pointed to as being at least partially responsible for these imbalances, and it’s where AI can help mitigate the issue from at least two angles. As part of the recruiting process AI can be configured to screen candidates only on ability, specifically excluding any bias factors including gender, ethnicity, or age. In larger organisations, AI can also spot hiring patterns that could be harming your diversity programme.

Marketing automation

AI allows marketers to analyse their customers' interests, buying habits, and website interactions to determine what products to develop, and promote, along with the best channels to reach customers. It allows them to engage with new customers who best match existing profiles more efficiently, helping to reduce the total cost of acquisition.

AI also allows marketers to keep customer data up to date with minimal manual intervention, this helps to ensure that customers are contactable, and facilitates one-to-one human-like assistance in digital channels. Email marketing, ad content, social media marketing and search engine optimisation all benefit from the intelligent analysis of customer data that would not be possible without the processing power of AI.

Predictive lead scoring

Predictive lead scoring uses factors such as demographics, social information, online posts and behavioural data to analyse potential leads and assign them a score to predict whether the lead is qualified or not.

This enormously enhances the efficiency of lead generation and allows marketers to create and deliver content targeted at exactly the right people. Lengthy efforts to identify and tier leads can now be completely automated.

The increases in efficiency that AI and workplace automation offer, result in healthier more competitive businesses. Of course there will be an impact on the workforce, as if a task can be automated – then it almost certainly will be.  Jobs will be lost in some areas, and created in others.

Perhaps a topic for another post.

By Rowan Schaaf