5 Areas of Your Business Where AI Can Help Increase Productivity
A State of Work survey conducted in 2023 by Slack Technologies, LLC revealed that employees currently using automation are 71% more likely to exceed manager expectations, while half can save 3.5 hours a week. According to the survey, for teams consisting of just five employees, that’s 17.5 hours of time; more than two business days. How many days could an entire company win back with the use of automation? What would that mean for teams struggling amidst a down economy, tight budgets, and not enough employees to do the work?
Jensen Huang, co-founder and CEO of NVIDIA, claims that companies who adopt AI now will position themselves for success. Huang believes “agile companies [that] take advantage of AI [will] boost their position,” while companies less so will perish.” The “all or nothing” perspective might be true down the road, but right now most companies can start small. While many are convinced of AI’s potential, some are left wondering where to start.
Why some business leaders are slow to move on AI
According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index Annual Report in 2023, in just one year, LinkedIn posts discussing generative AI and GPT have grown by 33x, showing the intense interest in AI for business. While business leaders may recognize the potential of AI, some may be hesitant to jump in. Some appear to be stuck in a holding pattern, working to compare the costs and benefits. Others appear to have already decided it’s the right move, but may not know when or where to get started.
If you want to champion AI at your company, understanding the most common concerns can help you prepare a strong justification for the use of AI automation at your company:
- Your company has technical debt: Inefficient code, poorly-documented “quick fixes” and bloated tech stacks add up to 86% of company technical debt. Ironically, AI could eventually remedy some of these challenges, yet IT departments may have too much on their plates to add another digital priority.
- There are too many AI tools to choose from: With an overwhelming amount of AI-assisted tools, platforms and bots available, how do you know where to start? Begin by defining your biggest business needs. Choosing tools will be easier once you know what business needs you’re trying to address.
- There’s uncertainty with how best to leverage AI by a company’s workforce: AI comes with a learning curve. Right now, 82% of leaders say their employees need new skills to thrive in an AI-enabled workplace. As AI spreads across many aspects of business, employees will likely need training.
- Leaders do not see the need to prioritize AI immediately: Without sponsorship from the C-suite and other leaders, you likely won't see an organization widely adopt AI. To attempt to get leaders on board with the implementation of AI, propose starting a pilot program at a smaller scale. If the results are promising, leaders might see the value in prioritizing AI after looking at the numbers and up-and-to-the-right graphs.
With these AI justifications in mind, let’s look at five ways to implement AI to boost productivity.
Five areas of your business where AI can help
To make sure AI is a worthwhile investment and the right tool for your situation, you should ask yourself questions such as:
- What burning questions are you trying to answer?
- Where would better data make the biggest impact on your business results?
- What could you improve or accelerate if you had immediate access to better data?
- Where are your teams spending the most time on manual processes?
To help you envision what starting small with AI could look like, here are five areas where AI can help:
1. Uncover the hidden value in your contracts
Contracts are a core aspect of business operations. Yet, the experience of contract signing and management is often a source of frustration and risk. Almost half of businesses surveyed said they have been unable to find a completed contract, limiting their ability to find problematic contract language or track important deadlines. Luckily, analyzing your contract portfolio is easier than ever, especially with support from AI.
DocuSign has been helping organizations use AI-based technologies including natural language processing and rules-based logic to manage and analyze agreements for several years now. These technologies can be found in our eSignature, CLM and Identify services, including the latest Agreement Summarization feature in eSignature. Using AI-powered contract analysis can increase productivity in the contract process by helping to:
- Speed up contract reviews: Locate key parts of an agreement to save time and make informed decisions faster during the contract review process.
- Increase contract visibility: Turn text-based agreements into structured, searchable data that’s easier to manage across the entire contract lifecycle.
- Find opportunities and risk: Drive business decisions with powerful contract analytics that uncover unseen risks and hidden opportunities.
DocuSign is “actively looking at ways in which AI can empower our customers to be more productive in their agreement processes,” which is “why we built capabilities rooted in AI to help transform the way our customers work,” as explained by Inhi Cho Suh, president of product, technology, and operations at DocuSign.
2. Obtain business intelligence (BI) through AI
Businesses typically generate a large volume of data, but it may be cumbersome, difficult, and/or near impossible to manually glean insight from large data sets. Typically, it’s an employee’s job to sift through all of the data and find the valuable insight. AI can make this process a lot easier.
AI can have a role to play in many parts of the process when it comes to extracting business intelligence from large data sets. AI has the potential to supercharge by understanding unorganized data and uncovering hidden patterns.. BI tools like ThoughtSpot use AI features to help non-data scientists ask data questions using natural language to get results right away.
Using AI as a tool in developing BI can help free up your human capital (resources) for more strategic work.
3. Use AI-driven insights to build more effective supply chain management
According to a survey conducted by BCG and Aera Technology, AI-enabled supply chain management hasn’t yet matured to its full potential. However according to McKinsey, early adopters of AI lowered logistics costs by 15%, improved inventory levels by 35% and enhanced service levels by 65%, compared to competitors not using AI. In other words, there’s potentially a hidden value in supply chains waiting to be unlocked.
Supply chain related activities for a company are a tempting target for AI applications because they produce more information than humans can process. AI excels at taking in huge quantities of data and finding patterns or insights that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. Accenture highlights three use cases for AI in supply chains to help organizations create intelligent supply chains:
- Advanced scenario modeling by creating a virtual twin of your current supply chain model
- Unified demand planning that integrates internal and external data to support better forecasting
- Supplier risk monitoring and resolution to better understand your whole supply chain and help ensure that it meets your standards
According to Accenture, when advising supply chain organizations, companies may want to combine internal supply chain and trade data with external data like consumption, weather, mobility and macroeconomics, and puts them through advanced algorithms to achieve helpful insight into their supply chain activities. These algorithms can then forecast demand at a customer level and help companies plan for the future.
Going forward, AI may be the key to more esilient and responsible supply chains.
4. AI-enabled chat support can help organizations provide a better customer experience
AI-enabled chatbots can help businesses provide a more consistent customer experience, improve retention and better convert online visitors toward being a customer. AI chatbots that answer frequently asked questions can save time for customer service team members, freeing them up to tackle more difficult asks.
Although AI chatbots can help reduce how much agent effort and attention is required to handle a heavy volume of support tickets, AI can also help empower customer service agents with instant, detailed answers to challenging and common questions alike, according to Salesforce. This approach is intended to make ticket resolution more efficient, without sacrificing the human connection customers need when they have more nuanced requests.
Art supply company DeSerres witnessed the productivity benefits of AI chatbots first-hand. When the pandemic was in full swing, they saw an unexpected spike in customer requests. To avoid overwhelming their customer service teams, they brought on Heyday: an AI chatbot that could quickly address online inquiries 24/7 both in English and en français.
The results speak for themselves. In four months, this AI chatbot:
- Handled over 108,000 conversations (up from 12,500+)
- Saw a 90% automation rate for engaged conversations
- Helped 95% of users track and find their orders with zero human involvement
5. Extend your reach with AI-powered marketing
Data and fresh ideas play an integral role in marketing, making it one of the most promising AI applications. According to McKinsey, AI in marketing could boost productivity and cut 5–15% of total spending. This is before you account for the downstream productivity gains, which can include improved data insights that inform new campaigns and more accurate customer targeting.
Zapier, an automation platform, envisions AI could support marketers by:
- Generating content inspiration for designers
- Providing reliable language translation for campaigns
- Personalizing the customer experience
- Predicting the value of leads
- Assisting with market research
Using AI to assist in these marketing tasks could free up resources for creating higher-quality content, possibly reducing the need for external marketing agencies.
Will AI bring fractional improvements or a cosmic shift?
AI’s future impact is unknown. AI could be a handy competitive tool or an innovation with the potential to change life as we know it.
McKinsey estimates that AI could automate up to 70% of work activities. While that estimate raises many questions, it is clear automation and AI have the potential to meaningfully improve productivity while giving employees a greater sense of purpose and well-being. Smarter tools and workflows can free employees from tedious low-level tasks and accelerate their accomplishments.
The rewards of AI integration could be even bigger: colossal growth for companies and a total reimagining of what it means to work.
Learn more about how DocuSign is exploring the possibilities of AI to improve contract processes.
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