Want your people to adopt AI? It has to be a team effort

Damir Kostic, Practice Leader & Partner, Talent Technologies, IBM Consulting Canada, says AI-first approach boosts productivity

Want your people to adopt AI? It has to be a team effort

For Damir Kostic, Partner & Practice Area Leader at IBM, AI is a gamechanger – especially where HR is concerned.

And, with over 80% of businesses already working with AI – or planning to – he tells HRD that this trend is set to redefine productivity. Kostic explains how generative AI augments employees by taking over repetitive tasks, freeing them to focus on more creative and strategic work.

"This shift drives better employee engagement and experience, which ultimately drives better customer experience," he says. 

The necessity of preparing the workforce for AI integration is critical, as Kostic stresses that the goal is not to turn every employee into an AI expert but to ensure a broad understanding of AI's impact across various fields.

In an effort to facilitate this transition, IBM has launched new generative AI coursework.

“At a very high level, this is part of our commitment to skill up to 30 million people by 2030 around the world,” says Kostic. “It’s effectively a free online learning platform. Think of it as a university or college where you can enrol in over thousands  of free courses, including AI, in over 20 languages. This gives you the opportunity to earn an IBM branded digital credential - almost like a degree or certificate, if you will.”

AI used to reduce managerial errors

And AI is a critical component in this. An AI chatbot in IBM's HR system has drastically reduced managerial errors and processing time for employee transfers. This improvement has not only optimized operational efficiency but also allowed HR professionals to allocate more time to strategic functions like talent and leadership development.

“By introducing an AI chatbot that connects into our HR system, we’re able to get the chatbot to prompt managers in the right direction. So if they're about to make a mistake, it can help them correct that,” Kostic says.  

Emphasizing the need for an AI-centric approach, Kostic advises organizations to embrace AI to enhance workforce capabilities and address contemporary productivity challenges. He proposes a three-step strategy for successful AI integration.

Firstly, placing AI skills at the core of workforce development; secondly, creating an integrated strategy that identifies potential areas for AI augmentation; and thirdly, maintaining a focus on employee experience to directly improve customer satisfaction.

“My advice to organizations and leaders out there is to adopt an AI-first approach because this will enable your workforce with AI skills, which will tackle the productivity challenges that we face today,” he says. 

Engage employee in rolling out transformation

And Kostic’s not alone in his passion for AI integration. According to data from Gartner, 84% of HR leaders believe that generative AI will make existing HR activities more productive – while two-thirds says AI could eradicate redundant activities in their field.

But AI isn’t a magic pill to solve all HR’s aliments – for companies that decide to adopt new tech, a carefully planned rollout is essential. And leaders really need to involve their people in this – or risk losing their confidence.

“It's really important to engage your employees in the whole process of transforming their roles and their experience,” says Kostic. “Hearing from them about what parts of the job should be augmented with AI is crucial... If you genuinely want to get it done right, you need to make an enterprise-wide effort.”

It's about getting all stakeholders involved, he says, from HR to IT to individual functions that will be transformed by that technology, “to sit down collectively and understand how is this technology, especially AI, going to augment what they're doing today. IT and HR have critical roles to play in that.”

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