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Understanding AI: where can it take your business?

Posted 4th September 2023

The pace of work is changing. Technology is driving faster processes, yet at the same time business leaders and the boards they report to need to see rapid results.

As a consequence, employees can feel like they’re constantly chasing their tails. They do the best they can, with the systems they have in place, to complete tasks as quickly and successfully as possible.

Yet many long for the day when tech will take away the tasks that weigh them down, allowing them to focus on more valuable aspects of their roles. According to Microsoft, nearly two-thirds (64%) of people struggle to find the time and energy to do their job well. In fact, 70% would happily delegate as much of their current workload as possible to be more productive.

Against this backdrop, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is proliferating, bringing with it the promise of a whole new way of working.

In this article, we’ll answer the big questions your business may have about AI in the workplace – and discover where it could take your organisation.

What is AI and why is it taking off?

Decades of research & development by big tech companies and smart start-ups are finally coming to fruition.

The term AI was first coined in the 1950s, since when the technology has raced through developmental phases, from the first ‘intelligent robots’ of the 1960s, to speech and video processing in the Nineties, and the emergence of personal assistants like Alexa during the past decade.

But it’s the arrival of generative AI that is turbocharging curiosity about, and use of, the technology for business. So many tools and capabilities are coming on-stream that it can be hard to keep up.

Microsoft defines generative AI as: “A subset of AI that involves the use of algorithms and techniques to generate new data – things that have not existed in the world before being created by the models.”

In practice, AI promises to be the most disruptive influence on industry since the last Industrial Revolution. An IBM survey discovered four in five senior business leaders believe generative AI has the potential to irrevocably change employee roles and skills at their organisation.

What are the benefits for business?

Here at BCN, we’ve identified multiple areas where organisations can get ahead by bringing AI technologies into their operations.

It seems those seven in 10 workers mentioned earlier might soon get their wish to offload black-hole tasks, like logging meeting notes and actions. Instead, they’ll get time back to focus on engaging work that adds more value.

But there are many AI advantages for business leaders and the wider organisation, too:

  • More accurate decision-making fuelled by data-driven insights
  • Building skills for the future to ensure humans and tech work in harmony
  • A recruitment boom to fill new rules that are already being created
  • Improved reputation – happier customers thanks to better interactions

In short, AI is set to break the stagnant productivity cycle, setting the stage for a new era of innovation.

What should we consider when introducing AI?

You may be surprised to hear that a large share of your workforce is already using AI tools in their day-to-day tasks. They’ll be experimenting to cut corners, and attempting to improve the way they work.

For instance, it’s worth noting that more than one in 10 (11%) employees globally say they have already used ChatGPT to do their job. It’s the type of initiative many managers praise – but it can also come with consequences.

In the same study, 5% of workers admitted they had entered confidential corporate data into AI-powered tools. That can be the stuff of nightmares: without proper training to stay secure when using AI, your organisation could succumb to a rising tide of cyber attacks – with financial and reputational damage a real possibility.

To ensure awareness and control of AI tools being used within your business, consider integrating market-leading ‘copilots’. They dovetail with existing tools and apps in your system, offering benefits that include:

  • Enterprise-grade security
  • Simplified permissions management
  • Faster incident detection/response

All while boosting productivity, collaboration and innovation across the business.

How can we get started with an AI copilot?

It’s important to walk before you run. If you’re considering Copilot as a solution to bottlenecks at your business, you’ll first need to get the following things ship-shape before making a start:

  • Permissions – ‘Just enough access’ – allow access to the information users need and nothing else. Data should also be in the right place on your server, classified correctly to restrict access to sensitive information.
  • Data governance – the effectiveness of Copilot will depend on the data sources indexed by M365 – abundant data = best results from Copilot.
  • Security – Copilot aligns to the privacy and security policies you have in place. It’s therefore critical that permissions and access across your M365 environment is setup in the way you want Copilot to access.

With the basics in place you can then move on to the installation of inspiring AI tools. BCN recommends getting started with Bing Chat Enterprise. The generative AI ‘chat for work’ service will help your teams get used to the speed and simplicity of a process that would otherwise eat time. For instance: ask complex questions, receive comprehensive answers or handy summaries in no time. In addition, there is no risk of internal information being shared externally; you can count on the tool’s security.

When you’re on board with Bing Chat it’s time to embed AI more deeply within your organisation. Copilot is a holistic AI technology, working alongside your employees to unlock innovation and unshackle productivity. It comes with all of the standard Microsoft 365 apps your employees use daily, but will rapidly reduce the cumbersome tasks that drain their time. With Copilot they can now do the following – and much more besides:

  • Instantly sort meeting minutes and remind individual team members of their actions
  • Rapidly apply original thought to tricky creative work, with no need to start from scratch
  • Connect with colleagues efficiently and securely, no matter the devices being used

As you build your expertise using Copilot, a truly exciting aspect is the ability to choose and implement applications that match the objectives and operations of your organisation. Where will it take your business next?

Should we/our workforce worry about AI?

We’ve all seen scary headlines about AI taking over the workplace and concerns about traditional roles being replaced by technology.

As the IBM survey mentioned earlier states, it’s true that many roles will change. But business leaders should see this as an evolution, and recognise that technology will always need the human touch to seize the opportunities it provides.

In fact, AI is a chance to augment your workforce as a whole, and for individual employees to enhance their performance without fearing being replaced. The successful businesses will be those willing to disrupt by embracing all of the benefits and features that AI has to offer.


Find out how we can help you get ready for AI and where it will take your business next.

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