August 3, 2023

How to make AI work for you (not instead of you)

20 min read
It’s an inescapable truth that AI is now playing a pivotal role in modern society. It’s revolutionising various industries and transforming the way we interact with technology. But what does AI really mean? Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the advancement of computer systems capable of undertaking tasks typically associated with human intelligence. These systems simulate human cognitive functions like learning, reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making. AI uses an array of techniques, algorithms, and methodologies that allow machines to process massive datasets to derive valuable patterns and insights.

Understanding the role of AI

The capabilities of AI are vast and continually expanding. Already people are relying on it on a daily basis, in virtual assistants, language translation, and personalised content recommendations. Automating processes in industries like manufacturing, healthcare, and finance is also becoming increasingly common. Here are some of the AI capabilities that are most commonly talked about:

  • Machine Learning: AI systems can learn from data and improve their performance over time without being explicitly programmed through various techniques like supervised, unsupervised, and reinforcement learning.
  • Natural Language Processing: AI can process and understand human language, enabling interactions with chatbots, virtual assistants, and language translation services.
  • Robotics: AI-powered robots can perform tasks autonomously or collaboratively with humans, revolutionising manufacturing, healthcare, and other industries.
  • Computer Vision: AI can interpret and understand visual information from images and videos, enabling applications like facial recognition, object detection, and autonomous vehicles.

With the surge of interest in, and use of, AI chatbots like ChatGPT and Bard, and art-generators such as DALL-E and Midjourney, there’s an increasing level of distrust around the use of AI. Nonetheless, it has found its way into various aspects of daily life, offering numerous benefits:

  • Personal Assistants: virtual assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa help users with tasks such as setting reminders, answering queries, and controlling smart home devices. According to Insider Intelligence, in 2023 “123.5 million US adults will use voice assistants at least once per month, and that base will continue to increase over the next few years”. Improving our personal organisation and effectiveness enables us to work and use our time more efficiently.
  • Healthcare: AI is being used now in medical diagnosis and treatment planning by analysing patient data and medical images, leading to faster and more accurate diagnoses. Machine learning is used to recognise rare and complex patterns in medical data to help doctors identify these illnesses. In recognising cases such as cancer, AI has even been proven to be more effective than doctors, enabling patients to get the fastest care and providing healthcare teams the ability to recognise the earliest symptoms.
(Source - Google Health)
  • Transportation: from self-driving cars to increasing fuel efficiency, to delivery robots, AI is being used across the board. Perhaps most excitingly, it’s also being used to help reduce accidents through real-time data analysis and decision-making.
  • Entertainment: Netflix’s ‘Because you watched...” recommendations are all down to artificial intelligence. In fact, AI is used in all video and music recommendation systems, content curation, and even much of the artwork and storytelling filling your social media feeds. Whether you’re tuning in to a podcast on Spotify or watching cat videos on YouTube, AI is responsible for finding your next must-watch/listen choices.
  • E-Commerce: from your grocery shopping to homeware and clothing buys, AI-based recommendation systems suggest products based on user preferences. Not only do customers receive an enhanced shopping experience, but this solution serves businesses as well, helping to increase sales and product awareness.
  • Finance: AI has become a cornerstone in various financial applications, bolstering security and efficiency. In fact, artificial intelligence is playing a crucial role in fraud detection, risk assessment, and algorithmic trading, enhancing your overall financial safety. Machine learning algorithms can identify anomalies like fraudulent transactions, financial crime, and cyber threats. AI can also be used to monitor compliance and regulations, as well as streamlining operational procedures through automation. Cybersecurity benefits from AI, where continuous monitoring of network traffic enables proactive detection, prevention, and response to cyberattacks and threats.

So, while you may not think you already rely on AI on a daily basis, the chances are that you’re already benefiting from it to increase your productivity and efficiency, to find great deals when you’re shopping, or to keep your hard-earned money safe. However, while we may be benefiting from it in certain areas of our lives, it's crucial to strike a balance between harnessing its potential and addressing the challenges it presents.

Is AI really stealing our jobs?

It’s one thing to use Siri to set your multiple alarms for the morning, and another to introduce it to the workplace and have it take over previously human-run tasks. So, it’s not unexpected that people will fear that their jobs can also be replaced. The widespread integration of AI has sparked many debates about its impact on the job market and the fear of it "stealing" jobs.

However, rather than solely viewing AI as a threat, it's essential to understand how it can be a valuable tool to enhance our professional lives. AI excels in areas that involve data processing, pattern recognition, and automation, making it particularly beneficial in certain domains and can be used alongside a human workforce to further improve a company’s overall performance.

Looking at the facts, we know that AI can revolutionise industries by streamlining repetitive and time-consuming tasks. It can analyse vast datasets, identify trends, and generate valuable insights, enabling businesses to make informed decisions quickly and efficiently. AI-powered tools can handle customer support, automating responses and improving service availability. We also know that in some companies, and widely across some industries such as manufacturing, human roles have been replaced by automation and robotics.

Identifying tasks that AI can streamline involves recognising activities that are data-driven, rule-based, and require pattern recognition. Jobs that consist mainly of mundane, repetitive tasks are more likely to be automated – coincidentally, they’re also tasks more likely to generate employee churn. Embracing AI's integration doesn't necessarily mean a complete displacement of human jobs. Instead, it presents an opportunity to focus on more creative and strategic roles that leverage human skills like critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and problem-solving.

For certain aspects of AI, such as machine learning, there will always be a dependency on humans to provide the ongoing training needed for the AI to operate accurately. Those who were originally fulfilling the manual work are most likely to be the experts needed to provide such ongoing training data. Although technically the original human job has been replaced, these employees are still very much needed in the process and their expertise will constantly be required.

While concerns about job displacement are valid, history has shown that technological advancements often create new job opportunities. By intelligently integrating AI into workflows and decision-making processes, businesses can achieve a balance between human expertise and AI capabilities. Human-AI collaboration can lead to better outcomes, where AI handles data analysis and generates insights, while humans interpret those insights, apply contextual understanding, and make informed decisions. This partnership can result in increased efficiency, productivity, and innovative solutions. More efficient company operations also leads to more growth, meaning companies can scale more effectively and provide further opportunities to their workforce as they expand.

Embracing AI as a tool

AI's impact on jobs is undoubtedly transformative, but it doesn't mean we are facing a scenario in which AI takes away all human roles. Unfortunately for some, there is a high chance that AI may be brought in to streamline company efficiencies, but by recognising the areas where AI can be most beneficial, AI can also provide opportunity for companies to create new roles. By identifying tasks that AI can streamline, and integrating it into our workflows, we can create a collaborative environment where AI empowers human potential rather than threatening it.

In the finance industry, AI-powered algorithms can be used to analyse market data, the findings of which can be used to help human traders make better investment decisions. This benefits not only the traders in achieving better results, but also those on whose behalf they are trading. Similarly, AI-driven virtual assistants can help professionals who didn’t previously have an administrative or secretarial aid to better manage their schedules and prioritise tasks, enhancing productivity and work-life balance. Such technology can help smaller companies (which perhaps don’t have the budget for a salaried role anyway) become more efficient, more likely to succeed, and more likely to scale in the future and provide more skilled jobs to their community.

For those still not convinced, comfort can be found in some recent examples of AI ‘taking over’. AI in the arts is a hotly disputed topic at the moment. With the film industry striking and protesting at the use and ethics of AI in their industry, and artists and companies such as Getty Images attempting to sue AI companies for copying their original works, the arts is not an area in which AI has been welcomed.

However, proof is in the pudding when it comes to what AI can effectively achieve. A reasonably well-put-together trailer? Perhaps. One that is accurate and recognisable as a well-known children’s story, Heidi? Uh, no. The AI-created trailer in question has gone viral for presenting something that looks like a dystopian, nightmare-like recreation of the much-loved children’s book. There’s definitely a level of humanity missing from this trailer that would more accurately portray Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Even the relative success of Tesla’s AI sales call that has taken the internet by storm doesn’t quite hit the mark for many. While the recording of the call rings alarm bells for those who work in sales, they can perhaps recognise that even with a ‘human’ voice, some limited intonation, and surprisingly realistic conversation skills, it still doesn’t sound entirely convincing. The call has sparked debate amongst sales professionals with many noting that if they received a sales call from someone sounding so dull and with such low energy, they likely wouldn’t get far.

So, BDRs, nothing to fear – yet! While Tesla’s sales call is perhaps also a wake-up call, fears that BDRs are about to be replaced may be a little premature. What this does tell us though, is that now is a good time for us to be upskilling our teams, adding to our existing practices, and learning how to harness AI to strengthen our own individual processes.

Finding AI solutions to help

If we’re to integrate an AI system into our workflow to optimise our processes, it’s essential to consider where we need assistance and at what cost such a system might have. To make an informed decision consider the following points:

  • What are your specific needs? By identifying the specific tasks or processes that could benefit from AI support, we can understand where we’re currently wasting time and resources. Temptation will be to find a solution that stacks up the best compared to their competition. However, for effective implementation of an AI tool, you need one that will address only the issues you have now. Looking for areas where it can enhance efficiency, accuracy, or decision-making without completely taking over human involvement is the first step to maximising efficiencies without a cost to human roles. Future-proofing by ensuring your selected solution is scalable is also wise, but more important is that it can serve you now, as well in the future.
  • Understand AI’s capabilities: There are so many different AI solutions available that you’ll need to do your homework to find a solution suitable for you. Selligence, for example, provides an all-round solution that removes hours of research and admin time from revenue teams’ workloads. Integrating a system such as this enables those teams to focus on more of the human tasks, such as building relationships. You’ll need to consider if your needs require narrow AI (focused on specific tasks) or general AI (with broader cognitive abilities). Choose solutions that align with your needs rather than opting for a solution that offers more than you need, costs you more, and is only partly useful to you now.
  • If it’s not easy, is it worth it? User-friendliness is essential for successful AI integration. Choose a solution that is intuitive, easy to use, and requires minimal training. A well-designed user interface will encourage faster uptake and adoption among your team and will start paying off that bit quicker. As companies face challenging economic conditions, ensuring good and quick ROI is important. A platform that is hard to navigate or unintuitive may cause more disruption than the benefits it offers.
  • Human-AI collaboration is key: Identify solutions that prioritise human-AI collaboration rather than full automation. As an employer you don’t want to alienate your workforce, but rather provide them with the tools to be and perform at their best. As an employee, finding a tool that can support your efforts, or free up some time to work on other more high-value tasks, is a great way to harness the potential of AI without reducing your own value. The goal is to grow human abilities and improve decision-making, not replace them entirely. AI tools that offer insights are a great way to add weight to your own reasoning and decisions.
  • Keep your data safe: AI solutions often rely on accessing your data for tasks such as training, decision-making, and generating accurate, data-driven reports. Therefore, it’s crucial to select a solution that adheres to rigorous data privacy and security standards. By doing so, you can rest assured that your data will be protected from misuse or compromise. It's also worth considering the ethics around the AI you’re considering. Ensure that any solution you pick complies with ethical guidelines and avoids bias in decision-making. Not only do these checks mean you’re keeping your data safe, but they also help to keep your operations ethical too.

The future of a human-AI workforce

The outlook for the workforce and AI is a complex one. As always, technology will continue to develop, and people will continue to integrate these developments into their daily lives. While AI promises numerous benefits and opportunities, it also poses challenges and potential disruptions to traditional employment models. Research by Adobe suggests that 87% of UK office workers believe that the implementation of AI in the workplace will cause their roles to change within the next five years.

(Source - Adobe)

It’s more than likely that AI and automation will continue to replace repetitive and mundane tasks across various industries. Jobs that involve predictable and repetitive activities are at higher risk of automation and shifting these roles to automated processes will lead to increased efficiency and productivity for most companies. However, it will also result in job displacement for some workers.

But rather than replacing humans entirely, in most cases AI is being used to support human capabilities in the workforce. By automating certain tasks, AI can free up time for workers to focus on more strategic and creative aspects of their roles. This can lead to an increase in the emergence of new job opportunities that require a blend of human and AI skills. As AI technology continues to advance, there will be an increasing demand for AI specialists, data scientists, and AI trainers, amongst others. This will provide current employees a chance to upskill or reskill to enable them to continue their careers, take on new opportunities, and perhaps even align themselves for promotion.

In light of the obvious impact of AI on the human workforce, it’s likely that we’ll see increased regulation around the use and implementation of AI. As we continue to see such technological advancements, there will be increased need to assess potential risks and impacts of AI on the workforce. It’s expected that many governments will introduce their own laws to regulate and control AI's use, particularly in sensitive areas like healthcare and finance. With concerns such as data privacy already a hot topic in financial and healthcare institutions, businesses using such solutions, and any policymakers, will need to prioritise ethical practices to ensure fair and responsible applications of AI systems.

Ultimately, it seems that organisations that foster innovation and effectively embrace AI will likely gain a competitive edge and contribute to the overall economic progress of their community. This spells good news for their growth strategies and headcount, with new roles and team expansion likely to follow. It’s worth noting that many UK workers are keen to integrate more AI into their workflow. In fact, according to a study by Adobe, approximately two thirds of UK office workers want to use AI at work to allow them to work more efficiently and effectively.

It seems most likely that the future of our workforce will involve a combination of automation, new job opportunities, upskilling initiatives, and ethical considerations. While AI presents challenges, a proactive approach to managing its impact can lead to positive outcomes for businesses and individuals alike.

The other big problem with AI

Concerns around job displacement aside, there’s another hot topic that is centred in the integration-of-AI debate. Ethical concerns become increasingly prominent as AI integration grows within our work operations. To address these concerns, researchers, policymakers, and developers are actively incorporating ethical principles into AI design and deployment.

(Source - UNESCO)

This involves creating ethical guidelines, frameworks, and regulations to ensure responsible AI use, while also promoting transparency, fairness, and accountability in AI systems. Organisations such as UNESCO have long been having discussions about the ethical implications of AI and it’s thought that 2023 will bring more laws and regulations to protect personal data and restrict and govern AI applications.

In no other field is the ethical compass more relevant than in artificial intelligence. These general-purpose technologies are re-shaping the way we work, interact, and live. The world is set to change at a pace not seen since the deployment of the printing press six centuries ago. AI technology brings major benefits in many areas, but without the ethical guardrails, it risks reproducing real world biases and discrimination, fueling divisions and threatening fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Gabriela Ramos Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO

In the creative sector this is a more difficult one to police, but with more and more debate on this issue, questions are being raised as to whether AI-generated images, films, etc., ought to be watermarked as such. Whatever the solution, this is likely a topic that won’t be being laid to rest for a while yet.

While ethical challenges exist, it's crucial to acknowledge that AI can also be used for positive and ethical purposes, such as advancing healthcare, mitigating climate change, and improving education. The key lies in the responsible and transparent development and implementation of AI, prioritising human-centred practices. As AI technology progresses, ongoing discussions and collaboration is vital to navigate any ethical complexities.


While there’s undoubtedly a large resistance to the use of artificial intelligence in some industries, for many office workers AI also offers solutions that are very much coveted. Perhaps there’s more a concern that it won’t be AI that steals their jobs, but rather the person that embraces AI that will. For organisations, the focus will always be on looking forward, examining paths that improve output and reduce costs to allow for healthy, sustainable growth. The employee who embraces these changes and works to improve their own systems as well as company processes is one who’ll be kept as a guiding light, leading their teams into a new AI-human hybrid era.

Whole industries have already seen a huge impact from the implementation of AI into existing workflows but the question of whether AI will replace human roles works to the assumption that humans and AI share the same abilities and capacity. That couldn’t be further from the truth. An AI machine’s strengths lie in the fact that it can be fast, accurate, and consistently rational without prejudice. Humans, in contrast, have intuition, emotions, and cultural sensitivity which all add to the decision-making process. Surely combining these two opposing skillsets is the most pragmatic way to move forward, fully optimised?  

It’s believed that with wider integration of AI across different industries, by 2030 AI could be responsible for growing the global economy by as much as $15.7 trillion. With such big numbers being thrown around, it’s unlikely that governments would do anything but promote the continued research, development, and implementation of AI systems into more industry-wide ecosystems. Business owners and managers are likely to continue to integrate artificial intelligence solutions into their workflows as they continue to support their existing workforces, while also exploring ways to deliver new and sustainable growth.

(Source - PwC’s Global Artificial Intelligence Study: Exploiting the AI Revolution)

While artificial intelligence seems here to stay, it doesn’t mean the office as you know it will change forever. You don’t yet need to worry about The Terminator being appointed as your new manager. Sadly, that also means we won’t all be able to benefit from the likes of Iron Man’s JARVIS any time soon either. However, being open to timesaving, menial-task-reducing solutions will likely see you step into a new role in the near future.

Being more than just an ambivalent AI solution means that you can bring your very human-centric skills to the fore. Employing emotional sensitivity and intuition alongside your new AI personal assistant will keep you ahead of any simple solution, and this is where human strength in the workforce will lie. As former executive chairman and CEO of IBM, Ginni Rometty, said:

“Some people call this artificial intelligence, but the reality is this technology will enhance us. So instead of artificial intelligence, I think we’ll augment our intelligence”.

Working in sales and want to know more about how Selligence’s AI solution will help you save time, increase leads, and ensure you’re always reaching out with relevance? Book a demo of the Selligence platform to learn how you can cut back on admin and research time while getting ahead of your competition.

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