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The Daily Telegraph: Focus on People, not just AI tech

The Daily Telegraph: Focus on People, not just AI tech

I wrote in The Daily Telegraph about needing more than ChatGPT to fix productivity.  Read the article and opinion below.

Australia’s stubborn holding pattern on boosting productivity means that when a shiny new technology comes along, we find new hope that it will fix all our problems and put us on a surge we haven’t seen since the 1980s.

 ChatGPT is that latest shiny tech, and McKinsey has done its digging to find it (or rather generative AI technology) could raise Australian labour productivity by 1.1 per cent between now and 2030, while automating half our workplace activities.

 This is no doubt true, but it’s not going to happen without people first learning how to correctly use Generative AI, and secondly changing our operational processes to facilitate those users to leverage the technology. Cart. Horse.

 One of the key changes we need to make is getting workplace systems talking to each other. Only then can we enable emerging technologies to increase our productivity.

 A common complaint around the corporate barbeque, particularly in larger organisations, is repeating the same processes over and over again. Research from HR guru Josh Bersin showed that on average, companies use 9.1 ‘core talent applications’, all of which requiring people entering information that then needs to be absorbed by people leaders.

 We see examples of this playing out in all sorts of areas of our lives, whether it’s filling out a form online before seeing your GP just to write it down on paper moments later, or, submitting your last decade of residence and job experience for multiple dwellings you’ve viewed that weekend.

 But this repetition playing out 9.1 times in the workplace in areas ranging from timesheets to feedback reports is not only wasteful, it’s painful at a human level. It puts walls up between executives and the coal face of an enterprise. And unsurprisingly, it hampers productivity.

 ChatGPT can’t fix this. From a technological perspective, the integration technology needed to connect different systems is simpler, has existed for a long time, and is widely used. The core issue is organisations’ own processes and the disconnection between them, their people, and the tech itself.

 The answer isn’t just whittling it all down to one system either. The reality is, it shouldn’t matter if you have one system in place or 50, processes need to be designed so that systems work together and tedious administrative duties most people don’t want to do are minimised.

The Generative AI boom will do little to boost productivity and fall flat on its promises to automate what we don’t want to do if we don’t start making it about people, and their role in the workplace.

Solving these types of issues are a key focus for my consulting company Smart WFM and we’re proud to deliver compliance and productivity consulting to some of Australia’s leading organisations. Find out more about what we do.

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