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8th May 2019
3 Min Read

Is internal communications ready for the artificial intelligence revolution?

Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart
IC & Engagement

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the internal communications landscape.

The sci-fi revolution is upon us and AI isn’t just a scary threat in Hollywood movies any more – it’s already embedded in digital tools we use every single day. But if it’s not all Big Brother menace, how can we harness this exciting technology to benefit our work in internal communications?

I was recently invited to join the #commschat team online, alongside IBM’s AI Watson Ecosystem lead Silvia Cambie and other IC pros, to share ideas and insights into how we’re teetering on the brink of an AI transformation in employee engagement. Here are my five must-know takeaways from our discussion.

AI makes conversations and connections more powerful

AI has the power to make smart decisions based on business data and conversations. When it comes to IC, that means it can radically enhance and personalise how we support employee engagement.

An #AI watching over conversations could ‘link’ chats relevant to each other without the employees knowledge and offer to connect. EG Marketers in different teams talking about a common problem; AI could connect them for common purpose of solving #commschat

— Tony Stewart (@TSDigi)

If it sounds a bit sinister to think about AI eavesdropping on your chats, remember collaboration and conversations on employee networks are often visible to several people. And don’t forget, AI doesn’t judge – it’s a non-human process that simply scans for conversations and threads that match, and uses that data to make connection suggestions based on business-wide conversational patterns.

Adding value by making useful connections between disparate colleagues could mean AI becomes an important engine to drive collaboration.

AI spots IC trends and hot topics

Imagine the scene: your CEO has just hosted a Town Hall outlining the businesses ambitions for the next six months, with a focus on customer satisfaction.

Thirty minutes later, your employees are emailing, WhatsApp-ing and posting questions on Yammer about what it means for them. Are they confused or enthused? Have they understood, or are they working on assumptions?

An AI system with secure access to these data sources knows the answer. It uses sentiment tracking to identify confusion, highlighting trending topics and misunderstandings. It lets the IC team know about the mood of the business, creating the opportunity to clarify or share stories that bring the topic to life and help everyone understand this crucial strategy update.

AI is about to have a significant impact on every industry, from healthcare to manufacturing, media to legal services, utilities to transport. And it’s going to be up to us in IC to communicate the business change that it’s going to bring with it.

So we need to know how to talk about this technology-led change. Expect questions about how AI works, concern about data, security, enquiries about impact and regional variations, as well as the big picture about why AI is being introduced.

Faced with tech they don’t understand, employees are likely to be genuinely fearful. Are you and your team ready to lead those conversations?

If you’re going to help your people to understand and embrace these powerful tools for the benefit of the entire business, start now by establishing great collaborative relationships with colleagues in IT and HR.

The great thing about working in IC is the business-wide view that comes with being connected to a whole organisation.

It’s the perfect vantage point to spot collaborative opportunities, see a ‘real world’ view of the business and spot opportunities for a more joined-up workplace.

What projects have you seen or heard of within your business that could benefit from AI technology? Which initiatives could be made better with platforms that can speak to people in a human way, interpret natural language, recognise images and visuals, spot sentiment and emotion and provide meaningful search results across an entire business’s data?

As part of IC, you’re in a strong position to lead the way – if you know what you’re looking out for.

It’s closer than we think

All seems a bit far-fetched? Think again. This tech already exists and is supporting organisations around the world. Silvia’s team at IBM provides a wide range of AI tools for businesses, while solutions are also popping up from Microsoft, Google and others. It’s a matter of when, not if, you’ll find an AI-powered platform being used in your business (if it isn’t already…).

We recently created an AI ‘procurement bot’ for one of our clients. The chat-based platform, hosted in Office 365 Teams, gives employees answers to procurement enquiries and leads them through the process – freeing the legal and procurement team to get on with other things.

How could a platform like this support the IC, facilities, HR or legal processes in your business?

Adopting these tools is the (artificially) intelligent thing to do!

AI is making a huge splash in business, and its applications for IC are wide-reaching and exciting. Keen to explore how this tech can support your employee engagement efforts?

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