Although enterprise adoption of AI technology is growing, there is still a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt within the knowledge workers, which might stymie its deployment and, ultimately, the success of crucial initiatives.
Of course, resistance to new processes and software is nothing new in an organization, but given the drastic transformation AI brings to data environments and the depth to which it is expected to permeate the IT stack, it could become a critical factor for AI. Many of the daily duties performed by knowledge workers are expected to be subsumed by AI technology, necessitating a rethinking of the individual’s proper role in the company. Meanwhile, leaders are concerned about losing control of AI and causing serious harm to their company’s key processes, as well as their own careers.
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The fear of the unknown
However, a major part of this anxiety originates from the fact that AI is still relatively unknown in the workforce. It will be incumbent on the organization to not only introduce AI technology in a gradual, non-threatening way but also to take steps to ensure that it seamlessly integrates into existing environments before it starts to do any heavy lifting.
According to a recent Infosys research titled “Enterprise AI: Turning Skeptics into Evangelists,” one method to do this is to convert today’s AI skeptics into AI evangelists. The report demonstrates how identifying the key employees who will benefit the most from AI is a crucial first step in assuaging the concerns of less enthusiastic employees. Organizations can develop a groundswell of support for AI by demonstrating how it improves overall business value and increases the value of individuals who know how to use it.
Transparency is another important aspect in establishing trust and reducing fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Because people are afraid of what they don’t understand, exposing AI to scrutiny and demonstrating how it makes crucial decisions can considerably enhance workplace acceptability. Finally, the company must ensure that AI is employed ethically; otherwise the evangelists may lose faith and become skeptics.
Furthermore, organizations should not overlook the threat that AI poses to both individual and collective identity in the workspace. “The Rise of Artificial Intelligence – Understanding the AI Identity Threat at the Workplace”, a new study from Germany’s Paderborn University and the University of Duisberg-Essen, highlights the ways in which AI can negatively influence perceptions of employees of themselves and their role in the company. To combat this, management must remain acutely aware of how artificial intelligence alters the nature of work in the business and leads to the loss of status and position. However, the irony is that AI will be a useful tool in assessing its own danger to identity and projecting the impact on the business model.
Familiarity leads to acceptance
One of the biggest challenges is dispelling common misconceptions about technology before it is deployed. To successfully convert AI from finite projects to a refined system, businesses still have a lot of work to do.
Despite the fact that not every AI project will succeed, industry experts recommend utilizing AI with caution at first, as the last thing anyone wants is a confusing, contradicting launch on a large scale all at once. However, companies should not be overly cautious. After achieving success on a limited scale, the focus should shift to operationalization and expansion, because AI enthusiasm will wane if it fails to produce significant results within a given time frame.
AI is the new guy in the office, and the new guy is usually under a lot of stress. He or she must first earn the trust of co-workers before dealing with the mounting workload that will certainly come their way. The issue is that people are far less forgiving of technology than they are of real people. Only once AI has demonstrated it can perform the job and do it effectively will fear, uncertainty, and doubt be overcome.