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SXSW continues to do its yearly magic. Wandering from keynote to keynote, diving into to workshops, interviewing keynote speakers and “thinkers”, debating, listening… it resets and feeds my curious brain.

The utopian voices get the upper hand on the dystopian voices, that much is sure. The energy crackles and fizzles. We have our destiny in hand, and we have the technology and progress curve to do pretty much whatever we want… if we make the best choices, and if we delegate (read: vote) for the right people: in our life, our company, our respective countries.

Don’t be afraid of the dark

As a tech-optimist (I plead gladly guilty), it pleases me that the unnecessary abyss between artificial intelligence and us, humans, is being bridged. It is not us, humans, against them, artificial brains. We have collectively seen way too many bad Hollywood movies, and have a tendency of hyper projecting an artificial intelligence into a certain robot-overlord. Ridicule.

Admit, us humans we are afraid of change: we ove our old habits, and we’re afraid of te unknown, the dark, progress, new ways. Listening to the buzz here at SXSW, there is no doubt: that change-train is coming, fast, hard, with no intention to slowing down. As far as I can tell, it is still accelerating.

We live. We Work. We Balance

As we continue to navigate this extremely rapidly changing world, the future of work has become a topic of increased importance. Tim Ferriss, American entrepreneur, investor, podcaster, ifestyle guruand autor of the famous  “The 4-Hour Work Week” ; Indeed CEO Chris Hyams  and countless others point out that the key for companies and individuals alike is going to be finding a balance on the surfboard riding the technological acceleration.

The COVID-19 pandemic, alongside disruptive technologies and profound  value based cultural shifts, have created significant changes in the job market. While conversations around the future of work are still typically focused on futuristic technologies such as robots and virtual reality, the reality is that the future of the past is already here. Disruptive innovations and trends such as RPA’s, robots, generative AI, autonomous production lines, autonomous paper flow, self-driving vehicles, remote working, platformization, alongside inflation and recession, have already started to impact jobs and people.

Chris Hyams discussed the impact of labor transformation amid these significant shifts. One of the key takeaways was the importance of communicating change, creating a transparent culture, prioritizing respect, inclusion and equity in the workplace. The disruptive innovation needs to be counterbalanced by a continuous dialogue across the different levels of the organization: critical to soften the impact of change on all workers and employees.

The great realization

Hyams emphasized that it is crucial to consider the human factor when designing and implementing new technological tools. He advocates for CTO’s to embed skilled communicators and psychologists in their teams, and for techies to  soundboard themselves regularly with philosophy, history, and even poetry to have a more well-rounded understanding of the moral and societal impact of technologies.

Hyams discussed the “great realization” or “great resignation,” where workers are seeking out new job opportunities that align with their values and priorities. The pandemic has made people rethink what they want out of their careers, and companies need to adapt to these changing priorities. Hyams stressed the importance of connecting with marginalized groups and broadening one’s perspective on equity as a leader to better understand the diverse needs of employees in the workplace.

New roles for Media and Marketing

There are new horizons, and new roles for media and marketing. While they were traditionally mostly outbound, mostly focused on sales (products or ideas), and mostly directed on what companies offered, things are shifting. The need is for a more inwards communication and marketing, backed by the data science of media, to install a culture of change, of dialogue. A deeper focus on why it matters, projecting a clear path to the internal and external audiences of where the puck is going.

Augmented Intelligence

One of the newer terms that I like is “Augmented intelligence”. It takes the juxtaposition away between humans and artificial intelligence, focussing on the “togetherness” of humans and advanced tech. (Admit, your smartphone is your best friend).  It pictures a future focusessing on using artificial intelligence (AI) systems to enhance and support human intelligence rather than replacing it. The main goal of augmented intelligence is to improve human decision-making, problem-solving, and overall cognitive abilities by leveraging AI technologies. The impact on the workplace, and the future of work is clear.

Reshaping the workplace and workspace

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, leading to a spectacular re-evaluation of the workplace, workspace, work ethics, and the overall employee experience. As companies adapt to this new reality, there is a growing focus on Digital Employee Experience (DEX), which refers to the entire range of digital interactions that employees have with their organizations, their clients and their co-workers.  Augmented intelligence, an approach that aims to enhance human intelligence through collaboration with artificial intelligence systems, is poised to play a critical role in shaping this new way of working.

Facilitating, enhancing, personalizing

Throughout the different sessions here at SXSW, I distill three clear fields where Augmented Intellience will play a key role:

First of all : Facilitating remote collaboration: AI-powered tools can help bridge the gap between remote and in-person team members, enabling seamless communication, project management, and knowledge sharing. Video conferencing tools, virtual presentations Metaverse platforms, are just amongst the expanding  toolbox allowing (ad hoc or permanent) remote work.  This first block is crucial, because it gives employees more freedom on where, and even when they work. Crucial in the vital work-life balance.

Secondly: Enhancing productivity: Generative AI (ChatGPT 4 just launched 😊),Virtual assistants, RPA and AI-driven task automation, and generative coding can help employees manage their daily tasks more efficiently, allowing them to focus on higher-value activities. This block is crucial for the employer. Giving the employee the freedom of working moe remotely, should not change the productivity. Augmented Intelligence helps accelerate the ROI, the margin, and the bottom line. Neat.

And, last but not least: Personalizing workspaces: AI algorithms can analyze individual work patterns and preferences to create customized digital workspaces that improve employee focus and productivity. Eliminating dead-ends, irritations,  and inefficiencies. Creating an ‘à la carte’ environment where the employee can thrive.

Focus on DEX (Digital Employee Experience)

Augmented intelligence significantly impact the digital employee experience by providing employees with intelligent tools that amplify their natural cognitive abilities.

AI-powered systems streamline,  personalize and automate the onboarding process, ensuring that new employees have a smooth and engaging introduction to their organization. Augmented intelligence can support continuous learning by providing personalized training recommendations, identifying skill gaps, and offering real-time performance feedback.

AI-driven analytics and decision support systems can help employees make better-informed decisions by providing relevant insights, predictions, and recommendations based on large datasets. Crucial in the run for the data driven society.

Communication, communication, communication!

Companies must rapidly adapt to a new way of working that emphasizes digital interactions, employee well-being, and ethical considerations. Augmented intelligence can play a pivotal role in this transformation, providing the tools and support necessary to create an engaging, efficient, and inclusive work environment that empowers employees to succeed.

It will take skilled change and powerful communications to unlock the full potential…

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