When IC guru Shel Holtz joined Katie Macaulay for episode 92 of The Internal Comms Podcast, they examined the risks and rewards of using AI at work.
So, from AI CEOs to cutting the crap out of our working lives, how is this rapidly evolving tech transforming internal communications?
Could managers be replaced by AI? As Shel explained: “There’s actually an AI CEO out there now – their name is Mika. It’s a research project between Hanson Robots and a rum company in Poland called Dictator, and they’ve customised an AI CEO to represent the company and the company values.”
Mika helps spot potential clients and selects artists to design bottles. They’ve been trained on data analysis and the company’s strategic objectives, and as they demonstrate no personal biases, their choices are purely strategic.
“Does Mika have all the responsibilities of a traditional CEO? No,” says Shel. “But if you think about the CEO’s role of looking at the big picture and guiding the organisation in the right direction, it seems to me they’ve got the right idea.”
Help you say ‘bye bye!’ to boring
“I think the landscape will look a lot like it does now,” says Shel. “But as we start to use these tools more, we will be spending more time on the high value dimensions of our work and less time on the drudgery the AI can take on for us.
“If you don’t know how to use these tools, you’re going to be at a severe disadvantage.”
Boost your output
Shel explains that, soon after the release of Chat GPT, a university professor analysed the productivity of workers who had decided to use it – not been told to by a company mandate. The result? A 35% increase.
“That’s more than the productivity increase with the introduction of the steam engine during the Industrial Revolution,” says Shel. “So, that’s considerable.”
Be your personal assistant
“For me, the fact that it writes is the least interesting thing about AI,” says Shel. “From my perspective, whereas some technologies require department wide adoption… AI is more a personal assistant. You use it one on one.
“In internal communications its use is going to increase when there’s greater understanding of the benefits of using it. I think we’re also going to need to see this unreasonable fear evaporate eventually.”
And do your reading
Shel listed a whole range of different AI tools he uses every day. (“Not a day goes by when I’m not using at least a couple of the tools available,” he tells Katie).
One of those tools is Claude from Anthropic, which helps to analyse multiple documents of different types and produces useful summaries or pertinent questions. “It gives you a kick start on a synopsis of what all [all that data] means,” says Shel.
“If you’re working on an article, and somebody says, ‘Here’s some background material,’ and you don’t want to read all of this, have the AI do it for you.
“I think you can use it to develop communication strategies, too. I’m not saying you want to replace your experience and understanding of the organisation and the conditions. But it can certainly produce some ideas that you hadn’t thought of.”