Tired of distracting your home office? Do you need a little encouragement from the «boss»? Artificial intelligence could one day come to the rescue.
Conversational AI is basically a new interface in computing, in which the computer learns how to work better with a human being, rather than vice versa. Although it focuses mainly on distance selling, for now, it has several other potential uses, including personal tutors or virtual bosses. Being a digital boss myself, the latter can be especially critical during a pandemic, as those who work from home can be distracted by things that may not have been intrusive when they were in the office.
What will make conversational AI different from other AI implementations is understanding the context. If it were related to your browser and productivity suite, you would know if you were working or if you were diverted by another social media discussion. (In the latter case, you should finally know how to get back to work, as a good supervisor or boss at the office could have done.
As I see it, conversational AI could help with productivity and should eventually become part of every productivity suite. I can think of three ways in which conversational AI can serve as a sounding board, virtual boss, or supervisor, or as a way to change your mood.
Let’s analyze each one in turn.
AI sound card
One of the things I miss about going to an office is sitting down and talking about a project or developing an action plan with my colleagues. You have a task, but initially it is difficult for you to start, let alone complete the task. For example, I write several columns like this and I often get stuck with what to write and how to approach the subject. (Editor: presented).
A properly trained conversational AI could suggest topics, remember things I have written in the past that have been successful, and allow me to express ideas and comment on their value. In the office, there were often cases where everyone else was busy, and the higher you got into an organization, the less willing you were to have these discussions; they can make you look less competent.
Having something that we could understand as someone else (without judgment or risk perception) would be especially useful for the best directors. Even front-line employees would see a benefit. I know I miss being able to talk about challenges and projects and I bet you do a lot too; in a productivity suite, this could create an excellent application.
A virtual supervisor
There are two aspects to this; the idea that we need some kind of legal defense against stupid sayings on social media. A browser-related conversational AI could use the sentence structure and Grammarly punctuation and warn us of possible results before publication. (Another big issue is how easy it is to distract yourself and get through the day without reaching your goals.)
It’s not just about making sure you don’t post anything on social media; It is also about recognizing when you have been tied to a commitment and wasting your time. Microsoft already puts productivity reports in Outlook and Exchange (I receive a weekly report on involvement), and Cisco has included reports for managers and employees on WebEx. But that’s only on WebEx. It does not focus on productivity, but focuses on commitment and behavior in the meeting.
Here I talk about using conversational AI to identify when you’ve been distracted, to warn you about your tone, and to help you better manage your day around the multitude of fun you have when working from home.
Was managing the mood easy?
When you’re in the office and having a bad day, a co-worker might ask you what’s wrong with you and help you discuss what’s going on. At home, we generally try to hide what happens at work from family members, because they have their own problems. Not having that shoulder to cry on becomes a critical resource wasted when you are at home.
Interacting with conversational AI depending on your mood (and suggests that maybe a walk would do you good) would go a long way.
The only thing I miss about Clippy (that annoying little avatar that Microsoft once put in Office) is that it made me smile. But the concept of conversational AI that could say «Hey, it was intense, maybe it’s time to watch a video of a cat» or «Looks like you’re angry, maybe go for a walk before sending the next email.» «It would be helpful for those of us who are increasingly isolated at home.
In short, conversational AI is a potential game changer – it’s a technology that can talk to you the way another person would. The tool has already been useful in distance selling (with much higher closing rates and fewer problems for customers than the robots we have come to hate). But when applied to employee productivity, conversational AI could be much more. Especially for those of us who work remotely, it could become a sounding board, a defense against distraction, and a better way to help us control our mood swings.
Conversational AI could be the main feature for the next generation of a series of productivity applications.