What Internal Communicators Need to Know About Artificial Intelligence

By Rachel Folz

Each time you load the map for your commute, pick a new series on Netflix, load your Instagram feed, or order a new phone case from Amazon, you are interacting with artificial intelligence or A.I.

Don’t panic. These friendly robots are here to make your experiences more successful and personal. They can remove the long, boring tactical stuff off your plate.

Part of you might be scared that A.I. will automate you out of a job. Well good news, communicator… your work can be complemented and enhanced by A.I. but not replaced. Think these applications less like the Terminator, and more like Rosie from the “Jetsons.”

“One area of great optimism about AI and machine learning is their potential to improve people’s lives by helping to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges and inefficiencies." Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence, National Science and Technology Council

If figuring out how A.I. can help your organization work smarter keeps getting pushed down the list of objectives, a recent article in “Harvard Business Review” might help light a fire. The article’s title, “Why Companies That Wait to Adopt AI May Never Catch Up” makes the message pretty clear – now’s the time to start building A.I.-empowered processes in your organization or risk being left behind.

A.I.’s place in the work world is no longer confined to the halls of giant tech companies, or futuristic marketing departments – A.I. is being used and it’s practice perfected in the internal corporate comms departments around the world.

If you are new to A.I.’s use in employee engagement, the options, language, and use cases can seem overwhelming. Let’s break down a few ways communicators are using A.I. to better engage employees and measure success.

Sustainable Growth

As a communicator, it seems like each week there is a new thing you are now a part of. Another process to manage, another item to order, another goal to meet. Ugh. The best part is that your bosses are allowing you hire to staff to help you keep up – right? If they are, that’s fantastic. If they are not, A.I. can help.

 “The intention of Machine Learning is to enable machines to learn by themselves using the provided data and make accurate predictions.” Dr. Michael J. Garbade, Towards Data Science

Artificial intelligence can handle repetitive processes through Machine Learning. Okay, I know I snuck that techie-sounding term on you. Let me explain.

Machine Learning is a fancy way of saying that a computer can learn to solve problems as long as you give it the rules. Over time, Machine Learning enabled processes observe how humans complete tasks and work to complete them the same way. It’s that cloning machine you’ve been looking for.

Better Spam Control

May 3, 1978 should be a national holiday for shady marketers. Why? Well, that’s the day that the first Spam email was sent.

Like a buzzing fly on a summer day, Spam emails can be annoying and hard to get rid of. But if you’ve noticed a drop in your Spam, you have A.I. to thank. Many email service providers and IT departments are using Artificial Intelligence-powered Neural Networks to detect spam senders, headlines, and body text and thwarting them before they hit your box.

Here’s how it works – another user in your organization, or on your email service provider’s network flags a message as spam. The A.I. dissects the message’s sender, message, and internet address and then begins to look for other messages on the network that could be Spam. The more people mark, the more the network learns what could be marked and bounces it out before it hits your box.

Looking for Patterns

Some months it can feel like you spend more time looking for, and attempting to analyze the correct data than you do creating the actual stuff that makes the data. Artificial Intelligence can help with that.

A.I. is great at looking for patterns in large data sets to give you insights on how you and your company can communicate more effectively. “Over the next two years, machine learning will become increasingly integrated within workplace communications systems, helping to analyse complex patterns in user data and, ultimately, improving productivity across each interaction,” “Information Age” editor Nick Ismail predicted in a 2018 article.

Think of it this way – if you know who on your staff prefers video communications over print, that’s one less question on the annual survey and another way you can begin to make your big company feel like a tight knit, well-connected clan.

People Analytics

If you are in an industry where competition for talent is tight, you need insight into what gets valuable employees to stay. Since 2010, organizations have been attempting to get a handle on their “People Analytics.”

Despite all the hubbub, Deloitte reports that only a small fraction of HR departments feel like they have handle on great People Analytics, “After years of discussing this issue, only 8 percent report they have usable data; only 9 percent believe they have a good understanding of which talent dimensions drive performance in their organizations; and only 15 percent have broadly deployed HR and talent scorecards for line managers.”

Bummer. But A.I. can give your People Analytics a major data-backed boost. A.I. can analyze the activities that lead up to an employee’s departure and warn their supervisors. On the other side, A.I. can help you decode what actions got valuable employees to stay, keeping that turnover rate on the right side of your industry’s average.

What’s Next

We are just scratching the surface on what A.I. can do for business communicators. As we enter a new era of work, A.I. can help us decode the complicated, communicate more clearly, and maximize our time with stuff that really counts.

"You should get started now if you haven’t already, and hope that it’s not too late." Vikram Mahidhar and Thomas H. Davenport, Harvard Business Review