A Culture of Yes: How to Prepare for AI and Manage Internal Change

3 minute read

AI implementations can be scary for your employees. Finding the right way to prepare for an AI transition could mean the difference between workers who are hesitant and workers who are enthusiastic. Read this article to find out how to build a culture of yes.

[Note: The topics and subjects covered in this article will be discussed in-depth during IPsoft’s second annual Digital Workforce Summit on June 7. See registration link below.]

AI systems might scare your workers. But cognitive AI will make the whole company smarter, faster, and happier.

We’ve all heard the sky-is-falling predictions: Artificial Intelligence (AI) will steal our jobs. AI will wage war against humanity. AI will cause nuclear winter. The truth of the matter is this: AI will improve the way we work by making us faster and more intelligent. Still, people hate change, especially at work, so when companies tell employees they are going to deploy a cognitive solution, there will inevitably be criticism, especially if you don’t take the time to educate your workers about the benefits of cognitive AI.

It’s critical that any team adopting a cognitive solution start by building out a team of super users. This should be a small group of passionate and imaginative workers who are willing to withhold their prejudices. Let them be part of the process of creating and building out a digital assistant, whether it be for internal employees or external customers. Ask them how digital colleagues can make their work easier and more interesting.

When the digital colleague is ready to begin fielding questions, let them interact and engage with the technology. At first it will be a humorous experience; they’ll see the cognitive solution make mistakes and misinterpret common phrases. But as the digital colleague uses its cognition to learn and develop human-like characteristics, your employees will quickly be impressed. After a while they’ll also begin to understand that digital colleagues are meant to serve as complementary labor and not as replacements for human workers.

It’s critical that any team adopting a cognitive solution start by building out a team of super users.

The super users will realize that thanks to the digital colleague, they’re tasked with less repetitive work, and they’re armed with powerful information at all times. They’ll tell their colleagues about the work that’s been taken off their plate. They’ll tell their coworkers how easy it is for them to find information. They’ll tell them the technology is making their job easier, not eliminating or diminishing it. People in other departments start getting jealous. They’ll start to ask when they’ll have a chance to work with the technology. Demand will spread.

What we’re describing here is an ideal scenario – after all, even the best planned tech project hits speedbumps. However, we’ve worked with our clients to take these steps to deploy our digital colleague Amelia and manage the cultural change that AI can bring, so we know they can be effective.

After initial success with a first super user group, you might be tempted to deploy across the entire enterprise. Don’t. Start with another, slightly larger group of super users. Have them go through the same process as the previous group. Remember, this second group might not be as open-minded as the first group, so you’ll have to do a bit more hand-holding. They may be less willing to sit through the digital colleague’s initial learning period. They may be less amused by the funny mistakes the digital colleague will make during the initial stages of the process. Don’t get discouraged. After a while they’ll come around. When you’re ready to deploy en masse, hit your workforce with this stat: According to Gartner Research, AI will create 2.3 million jobs, while eliminating only 1.8 million jobs by 2020, and by 2025 AI will have resulted in 2 million net-new jobs.

Getting employees involved early in a deployment project, keeping them engaged and allowing them to see the benefits first-hand are critical to turn the corporate culture in favor of cognitive AI. Remind your workforce consistently that you’re hiring a digital colleague to help make their lives easier, and that this reasoning is at the core of why you’ve decided to make this cognitive AI investment.

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