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Neon Smoke

Is AI Out To Byte Us?

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

GenAI tools are one of the most talked-about technologies of our time. They can revolutionize many aspects of our lives, from the way we work to the way we interact with the world around us. For example, the AI-generated art market is expected to reach $10 billion by 2026 (Grand View Research), and the AI-generated code market $20 billion by 2027 (MarketsandMarkets).

But should we be afraid of it? Welcome to AI Judgement Day-blog edition, where we'll explore the three most common questions:

  • Is AI hype?

  • Is AI out to take our jobs?

  • Is AI a systemic evolution to embrace?

We will also look at some real-life scenarios and the key areas YOU can focus on TODAY.

Buckle up and come with me if you want to live (in a geeky world where blogs like this insert humor and humanity into our tech rollercoasters).

I wonder if Sarah Connor ever asked: Will everyone have their own terminator?

There's no doubt that AI is a hot topic. But is it hype or the next big thing? The truth is, AI already has a major impact on our lives. And it's only going to become more and more important. In its core, it targets productivity in areas which complement and empower the human mind to explore new frontiers.

For example, Microsoft Copilot can help developers write faster, better, more scalable code. To enjoy, as Satya Nadella said in Build earlier this year, the flow of programming. We can have our very own pair programmer to bounce ideas off and get inspiration from for increased productivity.

Hypes do not usually tell a compelling story, but rather an emotional one. Yet Copilot, again in the example of GitHub, focuses on some staggering numbers. The GitHub Next team conducted research, which led to some interesting finds about Copilot’s benefits for developers:

  • 74% focus on more satisfying work

  • 88% feel more productive

  • 96% are faster with repetitive tasks

Stats from this year’s Work Trend Index Annual Report from Microsoft also show this is not just hype:

  • Companies were x2 more likely to say that AI would be most valuable in their workplace by boosting productivity rather than cutting headcount.

  • 70% shared they would delegate as much as possible to AI to lessen their workloads.

Is AI out to take our jobs and replace us?

One of the biggest fears about AI is that it will take over our jobs and replace us. Could that be?

AI is not going to take our jobs. As Simon Sinek said, let’s start with WHY. When we discovered fire, we were burned a few times. Dazed and confused, we scratched our heads to figure out its properties (just like trying to catch up with Copilot features). Yet to this day, we have handymen, plumbers and certified heating engineers handling heating. Like the tech world with citizen developers, makers and certified pro developers, we are here to stay.

This is NOT a precursor of replacement. In fact, it is a celebration of emPOWERment.

1. AI is going to augment our learning abilities, strategic and creative thinking; AI will stand for Applied Innovation rather than Artificial Intelligence.

There is a growing trend for specialists in the industry. Microsoft has applied it in their corporate and sales teams, and we are now seeing it more and more in partners and end-users. This makes sense as there is an ever-increasing set of tech and market trends we need to keep up with in order to innovate. On top of that, Microsoft just launched the Microsoft Applied Skills initiative as another route to showcase expertise. This learning direction demonstrates the emphasis on strategic thinking outside of the classroom powered by AI. We all know traditional learning and certifications do not always equal applicable knowledge and primarily suit neurotypical people. With this new initiative, we are valuing that out-of-the-class and out-of-the-box thinking in labs and real-life scenarios. For neurodiverse people, it’s a major shift towards making learning more accessible.

2. Collaboration will be more meaningful and leadership will be more authentic:

Based on Sidney Yoshida and the Iceberg of Ignorance, execs see 4% of problems, whilst staff see 100%. What if we used Copilot Lab to decide with anonymized prompts where to focus IT work, what biases we have and how to shape the employee value proposition.

Let’s take the example of Dynamics 365 Sales and Copilot. In our thought experiment, let’s consider a company with unlimited budget. The client is keen on extra features. They have purchased licenses so they can have Copilot, LinkedIn Sales Navigator Enterprise, Sales Accelerator, Forecasting etc. They are a client with a big frontline sales team on the go and ready to level up their outputs. Whilst unlimited budgets are a dream scenario, the question is: What do they do with all these features? Could they just use Copilot and ignore the other features? Or even, can Copilot replace a whole team by having 1 individual salesperson performing the role of many?

In this scenario, we need to reimagine frontline operations with a BETTER TOGETHER story:

  • Connect the dots when it comes to demystifying client profiles: LinkedIn Sales Navigator can kickstart the initial profiling and network mapping, but Copilot can help on key trends in spending patterns and purchase influence between different clients. Thus, going from accounts and contacts to segment building in Dynamics 365 Customer Insights – Journeys.

  • Define best practices for structuring an optimal workflow of tasks and daily routines: Sales Accelerator is a great start for CRM teams with the lead and relationship scoring on top of setting up sequences. But using Copilot can help see further which client is more likely to pick up stock leftovers, saving so much time compared to individual account checks.

  • Own their performance and data better: Forecasting is a great tool to guide teams when it comes to business targets. It makes performance management clearer and showcases where to focus efforts. But that does not mean the team cannot use Copilot to understand what new ways they can try to reach those targets in the 80-20 Pareto principle.

3. We will be empowered to understand data in a deeper way to shape decisions.

  • Real-time interactions: Satya Nadella recently mentioned in London’s Microsoft Envision that he uses Copilot to "interrogate" meeting data not only to understand key themes and actions, but to also dig deeper into the bigger, strategic picture and be a more efficient leader.

  • Actionable diversity: AI tools are great for diversity and inclusion because results are non-deterministic and lie in the pilot’s hands. Imagine what voices of different backgrounds and skills can do when answering the same problem e.g., as members of Parliament or C-suite.

  • Job evolution: The way we view data will also be shaped by how AI will displace tasks rather than jobs to allow for more strategic and productive tasks. For example, an AI system might be able to automate answering customer inquiries. However, not all customer service jobs will be eliminated as agents will focus on more complex tasks for relationship building.

As the tagline of Microsoft Learn puts it, it is about sparking possibility.

So, is AI a systemic evolution that we should embrace?

Human resistance to change and unsettled feelings are natural. But let’s not go as far as say it is like the evolution of Skynet, the self-aware AI system that tried to wipe out humanity in the Terminator franchise. In fact, this is like other major tech revolutions.

  • The rise of the personal computer: In the 1970s, it was new, pricey and available to few people. Over time, cost decreased and features amazed. This led to the rise of new markets, such as software and video games.

  • The rise of the internet: In the 1990s, it was a new and uncharted territory hailed as an academics-only area. But over time, it became an essential part of connecting people.

  • The rise of the smartphone: In the 2000s, it was a new and innovative device branded as a gimmick compared to the love for Nokia 3310. Over time, it became ubiquitous and created new industries and markets, such as the app and mobile gaming industry.

Doing more with less, whilst being user-first

We are ushered into a new world where laborious tasks can be automated beyond past expectations. Remaining positive is key to driving reassurance, creativity and productivity whist harnessing AI’s potential. However, remaining vigilant and focused is important. Regardless of your role or industry, here is what YOU should do TODAY in your teams:

1. Be a data guardian

Cherish your data with a clear data strategy and center of enablement. This will help you prepare for tools like Copilot, improve performance and reinforce data accountability. Be careful to NOT ANTHROPOMORPHISIZE AI as implementing such tools requires cultural and behavioral change.

2. Experiment like a mad scientist

AI’s value is determined by its consumer: YOU. Get to know the tool, common use cases, maybe try a few certifications or see what the community is up to with them. But ultimately, determine how it will best serve you and your role by not being afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

3. Bring diverse voices to the journey

There is nothing more impactful than navigating experimental times together. Collaborate bottom up to give everyone a voice just like the Microsoft Community does. Build a Copilot club to mingle over tea or Teams. If a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, there sure is hope!

So, who will YOU be in this new world?

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