Welcome to the very near future. You’ve just arrived at the offices of AcmeFutureCo where you’re confidently awaiting your first on-site interview for an exciting new job. As artificial intelligence and automation have reshaped the American economy over the past 10 years, you’ve immersed yourself in developing new skills and honing your creative and critical thinking to stay competitive in the modern automated workforce.
Since you’ve worked as an independent solopreneur for years, you notice immediately that you’re not visiting anything like the corporate workspaces of old. You’re visiting the office of the future.
Goodbye routine work, hello extra time
As you step into the airy and well-lit office, you’re greeted by a virtual receptionist, a perfectly poised, natural-sounding holographic assistant: “Welcome to AcmeFutureCo. How may I assist you?” These days automated systems like this, using natural language processing (NLP), optical character recognition (OCR), and conversational interfaces, handle repetitive tasks large and small. The company’s former receptionist was promoted just a year earlier to manage logistics and procurement.
The first wave of AI’s takeover of administrative tasks was cheered by employees at all levels of the organization. Freed from mundane repetitive work, they were able to focus on high-value projects that were in many cases also personally relevant and fulfilling. The company’s front-line managers saw their jobs redefined. Pre-AI, they would spend more than 50% of their time on administrative coordination tasks and only 10% of their time on strategy and innovation. Artificial intelligence reversed the equation. With AI systems handling everything from scheduling to report generation, employees have more time to invest into high-level strategy sessions and employee development, initiatives that have boosted morale and retention rates within the company.
That’s true across the AcmeFutureCo organization where team members are using their working hours far more productively. Back in 2014, it was estimated that people wasted more than half of their workday on email and other distractions. At the company, every one of those lost hours has been reclaimed by offloading low-level correspondence and necessary but monotonous tasks to AI systems.
New capabilities in Human Resources
The hiring manager leads you into the sleek conference room where you meet the lead managers of your department. After a few minutes of cheerful small talk—some things never change no matter how advanced workplaces become—the department head launches into a presentation about the position you’re applying for.
If her slides seem especially polished, you can thank AI for that. It used to be that everyone would groan when the boss launched into a series of poorly designed presentation slides littered with hard-to-read text. Artificial intelligence now spares everyone those cringe-worthy presentations by automatically generating context-aware presentations with visually pleasing, easy-to-read slides. For this alone, you are grateful.
After the presentation, the interview panel engages you in a deep discussion about your work philosophy, professional expertise, and fit for the company. They’re already well-versed in your background, experience, and temperament, thanks to their AI-powered candidate vetting system. AcmeFutureCo uses an artificially intelligent voice analysis algorithm to evaluate candidates during their preliminary interview calls. The system gauges vocal tone and inflection to predict the types of roles for which an applicant might be suited. The company’s recruiters use those results to supplement their other evaluation tools, with the voice analysis providing new insight even as it reduces the overall time it takes to manage the process.
You suspect that artificial intelligence played a role during each recruitment step leading up to today.
In the past, recruiters and hiring managers spent hour upon hour reviewing professional profiles and résumés by hand. Without the assistance of AI, a typical recruiter would need to scour 2,000 applications to find qualified candidates to fill 8 to 12 positions each month. To keep up, the average recruiter spent just six seconds reviewing each job application. And that was before time spent scheduling phone screening calls and coordinating interviews with candidates and the hiring team. Very little time was left over to do the deeper vetting necessary to identify superstar talent.
The company uses machine learning to conduct initial application screenings, helping its talent team identify promising candidates sooner and letting them focus more on assessing the candidates’ skillsets and whether there is a cultural fit. Recruiters end up spending far more time working with potential hires and on initiatives like retention strategy and new employee onboarding improvements.
Marketing teams with artificial intelligence
Back to your interview. The members of the hiring panel clearly like what they hear from you because you’re invited to meet more of the team. As you’re led around the office, you see a group of creatives from the Marketing team working from their laptops at a shared table, a set-up that allows them to collaborate as they review that week’s predictive analytics report.
Artificial intelligence helps Marketing anticipate shifts in customer behaviors, providing the data that fuels the creation of high-value marketing content. Armed with up-to-the-second data on the types of messaging that are most likely to resonate with the company’s target audience, the creative team crafts marketing copy, visuals, and other assets that perfectly reflect their audience’s preferences and values.
The team doesn’t use AI to make marketing decisions, but rather to provide them with data-driven insights. The heart of their work lies in how effectively they interpret and implement those insights to shape campaign strategies and tell stories in ways their audience finds interesting and relevant. This sort of complex creative work is a hallmark of creatives in the AI age, and it’s only possible because of automated data collection. Back when marketers would spend 3.5 hours each week gathering data plus another 3.5 hours on email, marketing campaigns were extremely expensive and time-intensive. With AI backing them up, AcmeFutureCo marketers channel their creative resources into crafting better content and serving their customers. Machine learning algorithms revolutionize customers’ online experiences through delivering real-time, context-aware content and recommendations that correspond to the customer or prospect’s stage of the sales funnel.
The new face of Sales and Service
Your next stop is AcmeFutureCo’s Sales team. Sales representatives use AI to connect with prospects and customers more meaningfully, since they enjoy constant access to predictive analytics and rich customer profiles that are continually updated through deep learning and NLP. With a nuanced picture of each customer’s buying history and pain points, sales teams can humanize the sales process—bye bye “cold” calls.
The Customer Service team was among the first departments to enjoy the benefits of AI-powered customer service systems. The company started with basic chatbots that used NLP to interpret and respond to common customer questions, shifting the responsibilities of service agents to more complex queries. With more time to spend with customers, agents were better able to develop a rapport with callers, learning more about their needs and upselling when appropriate.
But AI didn’t just relieve the Customer Service team from answering the same questions over and over. AI platforms also supply agents with dynamic real-time data as they work with customers. This “human in the loop” model is a great example of how AI and humans can work together so effectively.
Off to one side of the office you notice small pods where one or two people work. These folks are the company’s data scientists who spend much of their days pouring over the insights being generated from artificial intelligence programs. Once upon a time, data scientists used to spend almost 80% of their time preparing and managing data for analysis. Largely because 90% of the world’s data used to be unstructured. The team built an AI system using technologies like optical character recognition and voice analysis to turn their data stockpiles into something valuable. Today, that data powers AI systems throughout the company, like a custom system that lets senior management glean insight from customer service call transcripts, helping them better understand the company’s performance and make data-driven strategic decisions.
As your conversation with the data science team draws to a close, you’re led back to the front for farewells and handshakes. You reflect on what you saw: A highly productive workplace built on a foundation of human-AI collaboration. Contrary to fears about machines replacing flesh-and-blood employees, AcmeFutureCo uses artificial intelligence to unleash enormous potential within the organization by removing the constraints of time-wasting and tedious processes.
Your visit gave you a firsthand look into the symbiotic AI-human relationship that is reshaping business. And as your phone buzzes with a new email, you realize you’ll get the chance to learn a lot more about it: Congratulations, you got the job!