Augmented intelligence brings artificial intelligence into the workplace, allowing organizations to gain new insights, boost team performance, and keep a step ahead of the competition.
Gartner defines augmented intelligence as a human-centered partnership model of people and AI working jointly to enhance cognitive performance in areas such as learning, decision making, and new experiences. The market researcher predicts that by 2021, artificial intelligence augmentation will create US $2.9 trillion of business value and 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity globally.
Beena Ammanath, AI managing director at professional services firm Deloitte Consulting, said she’s beginning to see organizations implementing augmented intelligence in strategically identified business areas. Expectations differ, however. Ammanath noted that while one organization might view streamlining financial operations as the best augmented intelligence use, another might see the biggest benefit in increasing manufacturing efficiency. “What’s most important is making sure augmented intelligence adoption aligns to business goals and is backed by a clear strategy,” she observed.
One of the biggest misconceptions about augmented intelligence is that it sacrifices the human experience to drive efficiencies, noted Leroy Farrell, vice president and general manager, engineering service and solutions, at digital imaging technology giant Canon USA. “In reality, augmented intelligence is designed to work alongside people to unleash the combined power of technology with human intelligence and empathy,” he explained.
Making the business case
AI and its ability to assist human workers is one of the most influential forces shaping the future of work, enabling adopters to harness the best talents of humans and machines, empowering both to perform the tasks that they’re inherently best suited for, Ammanath said. “With augmented intelligence, human workers can be relieved from mundane responsibilities to focus on what’s most important and do more creative work.”
Arnab Chakraborty, global managing director/applied intelligence, at IT services organization Accenture AI, noted that augmented intelligence can help organizations uncover new insights, discover new opportunities, create new products and services, and define new ways of working. “We’re helping clients use AI to create more personalized interactions with their customers, provide better recommendations and customer service, improve dynamic pricing and offers in a retail setting, find new sources of revenue growth, re-imagine new efficiencies in enterprise functions, and improve public health and safety,” he explained.
Such applications are not only transforming how enterprises operate, but also how they think through what they’re able to achieve. “By realizing their own agility and capacity to expand into new areas, they’re finding new markets and customers for their services,” Chakraborty noted.
Successfully embedding and integrating AI into workstreams creates benefits for all stakeholders, including employees, managers, and customers, observed Pegah Ebrahimi, chief operating officer of Cisco Collaboration. “For example, in the contact center, AI can be used to augment agents with tools that make them more efficient and effective at their job,” she said. “AI can understand the intent of what callers are asking and route them to the appropriate agent based on case complexity, allowing customers to self-serve simple requests and agents to focus on Tier 2 support.”
Farrell noted that Canon USA has fully embraced augmented intelligence, and has now applied the technology to its Customer Solutions Center and field service operations. “With help from augmented intelligence assets, like virtual presence and predictive logic, we’re able to understand and interpret what our customers are experiencing in real-time and then customize our service to directly meet their specific needs — sometimes before they even realize there is a need,” he explained. One way Canon does this is through remote diagnostics and predictive maintenance solutions that process and directly deliver device status, parts, and metering information to service providers in real-time. “This allows technicians to proactively take action to handle a device issue before it’s noticed or experienced by a customer,” Farrell observed.
CIOs have more sophisticated tools at their disposal than ever before. “The challenge for technology leaders today is to find ways to integrate these tools quickly while minimizing disruption, achieve buy-in from the people on the front lines, and create a more intelligent organization that collaborates to its full potential,” Ebrahimi said.
Before launching an augmented intelligence initiative, organizations need to ensure that their human employees are fully on board with the idea. If presented properly, push-back should be minimal. “In this case, humans are working withmachines — they aren’t ceding ground to them entirely,” Ammanath noted.
Augmented intelligence promises to become a powerful tool that will benefit enterprises, employees, business partners, and customers alike. “Organizations that embrace this [concept] will be better equipped to adopt the various forms of artificial intelligence that will inevitably become a staple in the workplace sooner than we think,” Farrell predicted.
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John Edwards is a veteran business technology journalist. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and numerous business and technology publications, including Computerworld, CFO Magazine, IBM Data Management Magazine, RFID Journal, and Electronic … View Full Bio