Create context and provide examples to lower AI adoption barriers

Every company needs to be thinking about how to make artificial intelligence (AI) a seamless extension of its team. How often has an employee said, “I wish there were more hours in the day to get all my work done,” or “This is too much work for just one person.”

AI has the potential to lighten our workload and let us execute on tasks in a less fragmented way, but fostering an AI-friendly company culture is easier said than done.

It’s critical that companies take steps to quell any trepidation around AI while also providing tangible examples of its benefits.

In fact, according to a survey conducted by SnapLogic, 39% of respondents said they believe it will be difficult to get everyone in their organization on board with AI.

There are several barriers to AI adoption, but it mostly comes down to a lack of context and education on the topic. By heeding the following advice, companies have the best chance at integrating AI technologies into their company culture with little disruption — and big benefits.

Demystify AI to support change management

Most humans learn best by metaphor and example. It can be tricky to paint a picture of how AI will impact the workplace since we have so few prior examples. Additionally, some people worry that AI might make their role redundant if it can do their job faster or better than they can.

Despite these concerns and a general lack of context, people for the most part feel optimistic when it comes to AI: In our survey, nearly two-thirds liked the idea of using it in their current role. They believe AI has the potential to save them time (54%), increase productivity (46%), and reduce risk and errors in their work (37%).

It’s critical that companies take steps to quell any trepidation around AI while also providing tangible examples of its benefits. In keeping with change management best practices, this information needs to be disseminated from the top down.

Leadership should do the upfront work of identifying and regularly sharing wins other companies have experienced as a result of implementing AI through blogs, videos, discussions during all-hands meetings, or other methods of communication. In addition to sharing AI triumphs, businesses also need to show what AI misuse and failures look like in order to educate employees on positive and negative emergent patterns in AI adoption.

Ideally, companies would also provide employees with the opportunity to go deeper by chatting with an expert about things that can’t easily be covered in standard communication, like questions around data usage and privacy. These conversations can help inform the company’s policy on AI in the workplace.

Every company will need an AI policy that clearly articulates how employee and customer data is managed from a governance perspective and also defines areas where employees are invited to experiment and innovate. The initial instinct will be to focus on risk management.

While this is important, equally important is proactively creating safe AI usage through sanctioned tools and work practices. Neglecting this will cause AI usage to occur “in the dark” as employees seek to utilize these tools to help them deal with their workloads.

Ensure a smooth introduction

Introducing any new technology into the workplace can certainly shake things up. Think back to the inception of the internet, which completely changed the way every business operates. Companies had to have conversations with employees, create policies, address gray areas, and learn how best to leverage that new technology. AI is no different, and its adoption will undoubtedly pose some challenges.

For example, 19% of employees said they are concerned they won’t be able to figure out how to use AI properly, but 34% would be apt to use it if it fit naturally into their current workflow. Companies need to make AI adoption as seamless as possible for employees in order to realize its full potential.

Businesses need to consider each employee’s workload and carve out the necessary time in their workweek for AI upskilling. Hands-on learning and experimentation are fundamental for embracing new technology, so every organization must ensure its employees have the education and support they need to succeed. This might include some combination of digital materials, one-on-one training, group workshops and other resources.

Encouragement and reassurance go a long way: Companies need to be patient and understanding throughout this process, reassuring those who have concerns around upskilling and seeing the possibilities of AI. Executives and team leaders can get involved by showcasing the positive new opportunities AI brings to the organization as a whole.

Effectively implementing AI technologies will become critical as businesses continue to contend with tight budgets and less talent in a highly competitive market. To reap the benefits of AI, businesses need employee buy-in first and foremost. By giving employees the context, time, and resources necessary to understand and effectively use this new technology, companies can close the AI knowledge gap and experience positive business outcomes.