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AI Goes to Work: Three Big Takeaways from Microsoft Envision 2023

“I need to tell you something,” my colleague said, catching me totally off guard.

Right before this, he had asked me for feedback on a draft article. I told him it was strong, clear, and ready to hand off for light edits before publication.

With his tight draft in hand, we were ahead of schedule against a tough deadline. I was excited and relieved. But when I looked across Zoom I didn’t see the smile I expected. His eyes cast down and he took a long breath, then looked at me.

“I used ChatGPT for a lot of it.” This was a confession; his body language and tone were unmistakable.

I laughed and reassured him that if he thought his admission would deflate my enthusiasm for the draft, the opposite was true. In fact, in the next team meeting we had, I highlighted his work and asked everyone on my team to look for ways that AI can make their lives easier.

This was less than a year ago. Since then, teams everywhere have normalized AI-assisted writing, summarization, image generation, task automation—you name it. And while real questions and caution persist, I’m struck by how quickly we’ve mainstreamed such a wide range of AI business use cases in truly short order.

That’s my first takeaway from Microsoft Envision 2023, where 1E was proud to present on the intersection of AI and Digital Employee Experience (DEX) and was the only DEX software partner Microsoft invited to participate.

Innovators send AI deeper into projects and work experiences

It won’t shock you to learn that technology execs believe AI will—directly or indirectly—shift the work of every person, in every function, in every organization, in every industry on the planet. The prediction is nothing new, but what struck me was the range, depth, and sophistication of the use cases they cited.

Judson Althoff, Microsoft EVP and Chief Commercial Officer, recalled an internal debate about how to describe something his team was building. They settled the question by asking Copilot to summarize the offering’s code in a way that clarified its value to the end user.

Althoff and other speakers came ready with examples of unambiguous AI assists across common project components, including data wrangling, analysis, visualization, note-taking, summarization, copywriting, and design. And even though a single project may require all these pieces to fit together cohesively, each needs a different set of skills and standards.

Notably, I didn’t see any examples where AI agents replaced workers. An EY exec described the company’s AI approach as “letting employees play to their highest IQ,” and a Moody’s exec praised AI’s way of “adding value in the flow of your work each day.”

“By accelerating the time it takes to get through the mundane, it helps them get back to the things they really love,” said Althoff. He was talking about “elite developers,” but he could easily have been talking about any knowledge worker.

EX and CX are two sides of the same coin—AI can improve both

When AI helps companies create a better employee experience (EX) internally, customers get a better customer experience (CX) externally.

Microsoft Marketing Director Nikisha Reyes-Grange shared two examples of this connection. AI which helps credit card company analysts detect more instances of fraud clearly benefits cardholders by flagging fishy charges that they might miss. AI that helps tax professionals prepare better for client meetings with personalized customer record summaries clearly benefits clients by making those meetings more productive.

And in his opening keynote, Judson Althoff explained how AI that increases support specialist efficiency can increase net satisfaction because it can give customers better answers, faster.

In 1E’s talk, our CEO Mark Banfield, and VP of Product Marketing Josh Thompson explored the relationship between AI and digital employee experience (DEX). The key question is: How do we quickly find and fix issues that actually affect the end user?

Some anomalies, after all, don’t create friction and frustration. And some IT fixes may create more friction than the issue itself, or waste hours of IT time with no discernable DEX benefit.

Surveys are a good first step, but it’s hard to scale them across an IT estate because they are subjective, and making sense of survey results takes a lot of time today. 1E’s AI approach targets drift, friction, and frustration by synthesizing what endpoint agents learn from individual users and aggregating the data to create a context-aware understanding of an anomaly’s impact.

AI power is proportional to the strength of its connection to company strategy and values

“I see so many organizations are jumping into the what and the how,” observed Avanade CTO Florin Rotar. “It’s being used to create yet another funky bot…and then they get disappointed when reality bites. It goes back to the why.”

Companies that do well with AI “codify” their values and purpose into their AI solutions. In these companies, AI follows corporate strategy. They don’t chase shiny objects or build an AI feature just because a competitor did.

And then he crystallized it: “The path to production is easy. The path to value is not.”


The FORRESTER WAVE™: End-User Experience Management, Q3 2022

The FORRESTER WAVE™: End-User Experience Management, Q3 2022