Artificial intelligence brings us back to the human touch

Original article was published by Jim Katzaman - Get Debt-Free One Family at a Time on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

With work teams scattered at homes and elsewhere, staying connected has taken on greater importance.

“The pandemic forced us to digitally transform the world overnight,” said Guibert Englebienne, chief technology officer and co-founder of Globant, a digital innovation, design and engineering company.

“Organizations suddenly found themselves in a broadly remote working environment,” he said. “That creates a lot of challenges.”

Technology is coming to the rescue in the form of artificial intelligence, as Englebienne explained to Meghan M. Biro, analyst, brand strategist, podcaster and TalentCulture chief executive officer.

“It was natural, at some point, to start asking, ‘Is our team okay?’ and maybe even ‘Is it there?’” Englebienne said. “When we were at the office, we could see each other’s eyes. We could see if someone was OK. Then very suddenly, that all went away.”

With the world gone astray, Englebienne and his company turned to artificial intelligence-driven collaboration.

“We realized we had created a social operating system that allowed for a more human organization — one in which we each connect to more people,” he said. “We get to know them better.

“At the same time, we create a lot of collective intelligence for the organization, which allows us to be more adaptable,” Englebienne said.

He believes AI plays a major role in creating a culture that inspires while helping to decide what kind of atmosphere companies want to build.

Individual versus team focus

Organizations struggle with team collaboration when workers are evaluated based on individual accomplishments. Giving credit to collaboration can be seen as diminishing their worth.

“If everyone isn’t clear on the company mission and key objectives, it can have a big impact on team collaboration,” Biro said. “People have to get on the same page to innovate and work together.

“How do you get people to be passionate about their work?” she said “If they’re not, that can take the whole team down. The burden is on the work culture to engage and motivate, not the individual.”

Being spread around is a common, if discomforting norm.

“With so many remote teams, the struggle is real,” Biro said. “Managers need eyes on everyone — and a way to track how everyone’s working together.”

Managers’ dilemmas reflect corporate angst at large.

“Organizations are ill-equipped to deal with the adaptability and scalability businesses require today,” Englebienne said. “Replicating a founder’s mindset around certain behaviors — strong culture — and sharing the mission objective are key to achieve autonomy. Autonomy unleashes growth.

“Empowering everyone to become a guardian of those behaviors is key to creating a habit around them,” he said. “Our experiment about digitizing emotions like celebrations, feedback, social posting and so on made us discover team members we wouldn’t know otherwise.”

This has led to unexpected revelations.

“These interactions bring visibility to how the organization works,” Englebienne said. “Such insights can propel each member to become more autonomous, aware and capable to connect better with peers.”

Supporting innovation

Tools driven by artificial intelligence help reduce mundane, repetitive tasks, which frees up time to think about innovative approaches individually or in collaboration with others.

“AI tools are so effective for creating the insights and the visualizations that help managers foster better team collaboration and innovation,” Biro said.

“Employees thrive in a culture that supports creativity,” she said. “AI-driven tools can help connect those like-minded people together in a workplace, which creates that whole culture of creativity. That, in turn, can infuse how we work.”

The truth lies in the numbers.

“Use data to see how everyone is participating, and ensure inclusiveness and equity in your teams,” Biro said. “That way, everyone gets a chance to be creative and come up with ideas.”

That infusion brings welcome new perspectives.

“Diversity of thought fuels creativity,” Englebienne said. “AI helps connect people with complementary skills, different backgrounds, people who maybe wouldn’t stop to chat at the water cooler because they don’t perceive to have much in common.

“That difference is exactly what can help create something much bigger, better, more beautiful than a group with similar experience can,” he said.

Leaders need to get familiar with artificial intelligence tools so they can give their OK for the rest of the workforce to jump aboard. Changes in corporate culture must be embraced from the top down to be accepted and effective.

Culture improvements and possibilities

“AI-driven tools are not just helping to boost culture, they’re shaping it — creating new opportunities for connection and interaction,” Biro said.

“I find what’s happening at Globant really interesting,” she said. “There are great implications for leaders who want to be able to share insights in real time across the workforce.”

This leads to many options for anyone who tests the water.

“AI gives leaders access to so much meaningful data about engagement and disengagement,” Biro said. “It can create a virtual introduction, which means you walk into a meeting already having a sense of who someone is. That’s great for culture.

“What I’d want to know: How is a team working?” she said. “Where are they in the process? Who is taking the lead? Who is cheerleading? Who is being recognized for their input on a given day? That’s AI.”

That knowledge is the first step toward cementing relationships.

“AI can help you foster culture and personal connections,” Englebienne said. “Culture can make or break a company. At Globant, we have successfully implemented AI through our StarMeUp OS platform to help us understand the human fiber within an organization.”

He explained that artificial intelligence augment’s his company’s capability to connect with more people and know them better.

“Another important aspect is diversity and inclusion,” Englebienne said. “Social capital is key to move up the corporate ladder. AI can assist each one to make important connections that can make for environments. Then everyone can thrive, regardless of origin or size of an organization.”

About The Author

Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services and worked in public affairs for the Air Force and federal government. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.