Many workers benefit from AI in the office without knowing it, a new study found.
What’s new: MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group surveyed employees on their use of AI in their day-to-day work. Their findings: The technology offers benefits to individuals and organizations, but employers may need to educate and direct workers to realize them.
What it says: The authors surveyed 1,741 respondents in over 20 industries and 100 countries. They also interviewed 17 executives about how AI is used in their organizations.
- Many workers didn’t realize they were using the technology. 34 percent of respondents said they used AI at least “a moderate amount.” When they were prompted about specific AI products, though, an additional 28 percent said they used the products “regularly” or “sometimes.”
- 64 percent of respondents said they got “moderate,” “significant,” or “extensive” value from AI, while 10 percent said they got no value. Respondents who said they received value were 3.4 times more likely to be satisfied in their jobs than those who didn’t.
- Respondents who said they trusted AI were two times more likely to use it regularly. Those who were required to use AI at work were three times more likely to use it regularly and 1.4 times more likely to see value in it.
- Perceived value to organizations and individuals went hand-in-hand. Of respondents who said their organizations got “moderate,” “significant,” or “extensive” value from AI, 85 percent also said they personally obtained value from the technology.
Consumer vs. pro products: The authors polled respondents on their use of AI products in four categories.
- 79 percent used consumer products like Grammarly and Siri.
- 55 percent used business products including customer relationship management systems like Microsoft Dynamics 365 and off-the-shelf imaging tools for radiology.
- 43 percent used customized algorithms that perform a specific task, such as a tool from shipping firm DHL that optimizes loads on cargo planes.
- 37 percent used customized algorithms that perform multiple tasks, such as an Amazon program that automatically sets prices, forecasts demand, and manages inventory.
Behind the news: A recent study supports the notion that AI bolsters workers more than it replaces them. Employment rates rose between 2008 and 2018 in a number of professions subject to AI-powered automation including fast food worker, translator, and financial advisor.
Why it matters: Many workers justifiably worry that AI will make their jobs obsolete. This survey suggests instead that AI is broadly enhancing many workers’ jobs.
We’re thinking: It’s not necessarily bad that many people don’t recognize AI’s role in their everyday lives. Successful technology often disappears into the background. We talk about turning on lights, not electric lights, because electricity works so well that we take it for granted. If AI is the new electricity, we can expect it to be taken for granted, too.