Cognitive Consultants? The Future of AI in the Workplace

Businesses like IBM are implementing cognitive capabilities in order to enhance innovation and improve its competitive edge

Future of Work
Nov 3, 2017 · 3 min read
In the cognitive era, virtual agents are transforming the way businesses operate

The Opportunity

Now is the time to leverage cognitive technology in the workplace. With the industry shifting away from purely digital capabilities and towards cognitive enterprises, businesses are increasingly facing pressure to integrate artificial intelligence to maintain a competitive edge.

In fact, 36% of all companies are expected to have added advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to their practice by the end of 2017, with virtual agents standing as one of three top use cases for cognitive computing capabilities.

With the implementation of cognitive assistants, businesses can expect to create rich new sources of data, integrate advanced innovation as a part of an ecosystem, and execute situational analyses, ultimately reinventing the workplace.

The Now

Virtual assistants help businesses like IBM keep up with changes in the cognitive era

IBM’s Institute for Business Value conducted a study with 3069 C-Suite executives from 91 countries and 20 industries and found that 47% expect to redeploy employees to higher-value activities by using AI technology for routine tasks.

In line with this trend, IBM has developed a new cognitive agent, Alfred, to help project managers scale expertise and accelerate research, thereby reducing time spent on administrative tasks.

At the moment, Alfred processes natural language requests via IBM Watson Conversation Services to direct project managers to project financials and operational data.

An informational retrieval process that would have normally taken days of manual lookups is now delivered in under 3 seconds, allowing IBM to keep up with the ongoing changes in the cognitive era.

Cognitive agents can improve a business’ competitive position

The immediacy with which cognitive agents like Alfred deliver resources is the key to shifting workplace operations and improving a business’ competitive position.

Currently, 36% of a typical worker’s day consists of sorting, consolidating, and looking up data spread across various systems, leading to operational inefficiencies.

Automating these tasks gives IBM project managers time to spend side-by-side with clients and project teams.

The Vision

Cognitive agents must learn from feedback and adapt quickly in order to conduct situational analysis

The future of cognitive agents in the workplace, however, extends beyond retrieving current-state information.

To truly drive positive business outcomes, they must be able to conduct real-time situational analysis as well.

Alfred, for example, will soon be able to parse through mass quantities of data, apply sentiment analysis, and produce a qualitative assessment of project confidence for any given team.

The vision is for Alfred and other cognitive agents to serve as an intelligent advisor to the workplace in order to help businesses become more robust and intuitive than ever before.

The Impact

Cognitive agents are transforming the way businesses deliver value to clients

Cognitive capabilities enable businesses to unveil untapped value streams, enhance collective knowledge transfers, and advance innovation.

What businesses ultimately want in today’s data-driven economy is less complexity and more immediacy.

Together, with the help of cognitive agents like Alfred, businesses can work smarter and act faster, transforming the way they deliver value to their clients.

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