AI and automation today and tomorrow

21 April 2021

Overinflated expectations, negative connotations and associations with a far-distant future can distort the picture of where we actually are with AI and automation now. Both are technologies of today as much as they are of tomorrow, and the ways in which they are being used may be valuable – but certainly not in the utopian or dystopian ways sometimes imagined.

In fact, look into any organizational digital workplace and you are very likely to find at least some AI and automation in action – in the products and applications already in use, as well as in departmental strategies. Your organization may be using AI technologies with your customers too. Automation in one form or another is also a common workplace capability. As with any digital workplace capability, workplace teams need to start thinking about AI and automation now, considering the relative opportunities and challenges, and then acting where they can add value.

Of course, one of the reasons AI and automation are of such interest to so many is because they present exceptional opportunities for organizations to drive value from their digital workplaces across a huge range of use cases.

But there are also challenges around ownership, data governance, ethics, low maturity, a lack of skills, and more.

In this report we cover what digital workplace teams need to know about AI and automation. We look at what AI and automation actually cover and try to unpack the terminology to drive a more practical consideration of the opportunities and challenges.

We then look at potential use cases and provide some detail and examples relating to current common digital workplace practices, covering chatbots, automation and workflow, content and knowledge management, digital and physical management, and digital employee experience in relation to the human resources (HR) lifecycle.

In the final section we tackle the wider contribution digital workplace teams can make to how their organization carries out AI and automation, considering three main areas: strategy; ethics and governance; skills and digital literacy. Within these areas we also look at some more specific topics such as data dependencies, the prevalence of low-code and no-code solutions, and more.


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About DWG research

The Digital Workplace Group (DWG) carries out research into best practice in intranet and portal deployment. Covering the hottest topics in the intranet world, the studies we undertake are rooted in practical examples from among DWG member organizations as well as leading non-member companies. The results of this in-depth research act as a basis for decision-making, a source of ideas, and the basis for rich interactions between participants at DWG meetings. Generally, members are given exclusive access to our findings, although we do from time to time make a report available to non-members.

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