The future of work involves disruption. AI illuminates how to prepare

By | 2 minute read | January 14, 2020

people in meetings

What is the future of global business in the digital age? That’s our focus at The Conference Board, a nonprofit member driven think tank. We collaborate with enterprise executives around the world to answer such questions so they can better serve society.

Our research tells us that new digital technologies will disrupt the structure of work—and, in turn, the structure of business and leadership profiles. To shed light on this disruption, we launched “The Future of Work” event series, enlisting more than 300 executives from different job functions, industries and geographies to discuss the cultural drivers of a digital economy.

To help attendees prep for one of the events in this series, we populated a LinkedIn group with more than 5,000 documents and studies, each based on our research on the impact of digitization, AI and analytics on corporate leadership. We found, however, that this format didn’t help attendees prepare. Overwhelming data dumps aren’t useful; rather attendees benefit from a few select, customized items.

To achieve this end, we used the CAITO platform from IBM Business Partner CBA Strategic IT Ltd. in New Zealand. Short for Cognitive Artificial Intelligence Technology for Organizations, CAITO puts IBM Watson and other AI technologies to work in a knowledge repository that delivers instant insights. Because of the platform’s speed and intelligence, attendees could search it during roundtable discussions, even in the midst of a conversation. This helped enrich the event and raised awareness of our research.

 Real-time polling of executive strategies

We call events like The Future of Work “unconferences” since they’re designed to limit stand-up speakers in order to capture the collective wisdom of the attendees. We organized the participants into 16 subgroups, and after they answered questions about their strategic intent, we polled them in real time about the strategies they defined.

Given we’re published in the global press hundreds of thousands of times each year, even we can forget work that we’ve done. But CAITO can capture this intellectual capacity and deliver it on demand.

Powered by AI technologies

CAITO’s capabilities are enabled by CBA’s proprietary AI technologies such as machine learning, neural networks, natural language processing, rules engines and robotic process automation. It also capitalizes on Watson Discovery from IBM Cloud, an intuitive AI engine for gleaning analytical insights from unstructured data using everyday language.

For example, if the discussion focuses on how to manage millennials in the workforce, attendees could ask for relevant research and CAITO would pull it up. But the beauty is it could also understand the question’s intent and say, “You really should focus on how to deal with a multigenerational workforce. And here are some studies on that as well.”

Additionally, the platform personalizes search results to each participant’s role and industry. An HR executive, for instance, has different interests from a CEO. AI can discover insights aligned with each of their perspectives.

Key insights into The Future of Work

In evaluating the event, we found the platform drove engagement with our members and expanded the range of conversations by 50 percent. Attendees told us, “CAITO suggested this. We never knew your research covered this. Can you talk to us about it?”

These types of discussions will help The Conference Board better provide our members with key insights and strategic direction to address the challenges of transformation and disruption that will accompany the future of work. AI is helping to show us how.