Three ways conversational AI could boost productivity

Tired of distractions around the home office? Need some encouragement from the “boss”? Artificial intelligence could one day come to the rescue.

Disclosure: The vendors mentioned are clients of the author.

Conversational AI is, at heart, a new interface in computing where the computer learns how to best work with a human rather than the reverse. While primarily focused for now on tele-sales, it has several other potential uses, including personal tutors or virtual bosses. Being a digital boss myself, this last may be particularly critical during the pandemic because those working from home can get distracted by things  that might not have been intrusive when in the office.

The thing that will make Conversational AI different from other AI implementations is understanding context. Were it tied to your browser and productivity suite, it would know if you’re working or have gotten sidetracked by another social media debate. (In the latter case, it should eventually know how to get you back to work — much like a good supervisor or boss might have done in the office. 

The way I see it, Conversational AI could help productivity and should eventually become part of all productivity suites. I can think of three ways Conversational AI can serve as a sounding board, a virtual boss or supervisor, or as a way to change your mood.

Let’s take each in turn.

The AI sounding board

One of the things I miss about going into an office is sitting down and chatting about a project or developing a plan of action, with co-workers. You have an assignment, but are initially struggling with how to begin, let alone how to complete the task. For instance, I write several columns like this, and I’m often stuck with what to write and how to approach the subject. (Editor: Noted.)

A properly trained Conversational AI would be able to suggest topics, recall things I’ve written in the past that were successful, and allow me to throw out ideas and comment on their value. In the office, there were often cases where everyone else was busy, and the higher you went in an organization, the less willing you were to have these discussions; they might make you look less competent. 

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