Procurement · 25 October 2017

UK office workers reveal what they’d do with a personal AI-powered assistant

Could you trust artificial intelligence to contribute creative ideas to a project?
Could you trust artificial intelligence to contribute creative ideas to a project?

Two thirds of UK office workers want their own AI-powered assistant, new survey findings have revealed, but what tasks would they expect their new sidekick to take on?

After polling over 2,000 full and part-time office professionals in UK workplaces, software firm Adobe found that the vast majority were not phased at the prospect of being replaced by a robot, believing that certain human abilities could never be replaced by technology.

In fact, most would relish a personal AI-powered assistant for certain everyday tasks.

The most popular response, cited by almost half of respondents, was to deliver reminders of project deadlines or appointments. This was followed by assistance with research on a work topic. Admin-based tasks ended with the hope an AI-powered assistant could quickly scan electronic documents for information.

Read more: Why losing the human touch can harm a company’s customer service experience

Researchers found that workers were less open to leaning on their assistant for creative or strategic tasks. Only 16 per cent would use AI to help with content or writing ideas, with the same number expecting feedback on the tone and style of a document.

Just one in ten respondents said they would welcome suggestions on how to grow their network of colleagues.

Commenting on the study, Adobe’s head of emerging business for EMEA, Mark Greenaway, said its findings confirmed UK office workers had been won over by the potential of AI in streamlining day to day tasks.

“Considering the often sensationalist and innacurate reports given about AI technology, its important that workers remember that AI can help make their lives easier, so they have more free time innovating and being productive,” Greenaway said. 

However, many employees were hesitant about the introduction of smart technology in their workplace. Fewer than one in five said they felt “very equipped” to deal with advanced AI in the near future.

Nonetheless, on average workers expected 60 per cent of admin tasks to be overtaken by technology in the next 20 years, while 87 per cent of respondents saw their role changing significantly in the next five.

“Humans don’t feel like they’re just a cog in a machine,” Greenaway added.

“Office workers are confident that they’ll continue to matter in the workplace, even in a world of fast-developing technology.

“Our findings show that workers want to be confident when using new technologies – currently the majority don’t feel they have the skills necessary to do so – so more needs to be done by businesses.

“As long as employees adopt a learn-it-all mindset, and companies design user-centric technology that’s intuitive, technology and work patterns should evolve hand in hand.”

Find out what business tasks employers want to see overtaken by AI in the coming years

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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