Unleashing the power of AI for remote workers

Male remote worker using artificial intelligence on his computer

It's hard to overstate the impact that artificial intelligence (AI) technology is forecast to have on the world in the years ahead.

According to McKinsey and Co, AI is expected to contribute as much as $6.5 trillion dollars to the global economy, changing the way we work in almost every industry.

However, there is also a great deal of opportunity that comes with AI, allowing businesses and remote/hybrid workers to change how work is done to be more efficient and effective.

Here's what you need to know about this machine-learning tech and how it could help you get more out of your workday.

What is AI and what are its forms?

At its essence, AI refers to the capacity of machines to do tasks that in the past would have required human intelligence, such as learning, problem-solving, and decision-making.

There are a few different types of AI, ranging from basic to the futuristic:

Reactive AI

The simplest type of artificial intelligence is known as reactive AI. With limited memory, this type of AI is programmed to provide a predictable output based on the inputs it receives.

Reactive machines always respond to the same situations in the same way, and they're not able to learn actions or conceptualise past or future. Examples include spam filters, Netflix's show recommendation engine, or even a chess-playing supercomputer.

Limited Memory AI

Limited memory AI is a more advanced version and builds in experiential knowledge by observing actions or data. In other words, it 'learns' from the past to perform complex tasks. Self-driving cars are an example of limited memory AI, using data from past trips to make future decisions.

Theory of Mind AI

Theory of mind AI refers to even more advanced technology that has decision-making abilities on a par with humans. These machines can understand and recall emotions, then shift their behaviour based on those emotions, as they interact with people.

Some argue that large AI language models like Microsoft-backed OpenAI's chatbot, Chat GPT-4 have achieved theory of mind, while others contest we aren't there just yet.

Self Aware AI

The most advanced model, still the stuff of science fiction, is self-aware AI. It's conscious of its own - and others - emotions and has an IQ of a similar range to humans.

AI developments over time

The rise of AI hasn't happened overnight. In fact, it was back in the 1950s when AI started to build momentum in line with computers being able to store more data. It wasn't until the 1990s and 2000s that AI really thrived and entered the mainstream, especially when a headline-grabbing event saw a world reigning chess champion being defeated by IBM's 'Deep Blue' supercomputer.

Nowadays, AI is involved in countless applications across the globe.

One of the most common applications is in eCommerce, with organisations using AI to predict trends, analyse performance, and assist with inventory management. For instance, a chatbot - a ubiquitous eCommerce tool - is a super common AI entity for customer support.

Online fraud detection is another key area for AI. Here, it helps track money flows, and usage patterns and verifies information, making it a useful tool to combat credit card fraud, bogus online reviews, and identify suspicious online transactions.

AI is also increasingly playing a part in marketing, partly due to the tech's ability to analyse data fast for the production of insights that can be actioned quickly. In this context, AI can be used for campaign reports, online retargeting campaigns, and real-time language translation for multi-language online marketing efforts.

Recent AI breakthroughs

Without a doubt, the biggest breakthrough in AI has occurred in the past year with Chat GPT, the natural language processing chatbot that can provide detailed, written responses based on simple prompts.

From there, AI image development tools such as DALL-E have also captured the attention of the world, creating realistic images and art from a basic description.

AI: Benefits and challenges

Of course, with these developments in technology come a host of benefits and challenges.

Benefits of working with AI

A key reason for the explosion in popularity of AI is its potential upside for business.

In the case of small businesses - often stretched for things like time, money and manpower - AI can help ease the burden, taking over many tasks previously done by humans by running online ads and assisting with customer enquiries.

AI can also help businesses by automating routine tasks like data entry and improving compliance processes and workflows.

Brands such as Microsoft point out many other benefits, including improved workplace communication and saved time by asking AI to draft emails, quickly create summaries of various content to get yourself up to speed, or provide suggestions to improve grammar.

The tech can also help to analyse and explore spreadsheet data, turn written documents into presentations for meetings and even create meeting agendas based on chat history.

What are the challenges of working with AI?

While most of the talk around the potential of AI is upbeat, the tech is still far from perfect.

AI has no way yet to fact-check its own answers and so reviewing content for accuracy remains difficult.

What's more, there's potential bias as argued by UNESCO. Most AI tools scrape their information off the internet, meaning users will mostly, never know what web-based source material contains biases and inaccuracies.

Other potential red flags with the technology include copyright issues associated with generative AI. For example, writers who utilise AI-generated text without proofing/editing the copy may actually be plagiarising another writer's work.

However, all of these issues pale in comparison to the big worry many people have about AI - fears the technology will replace millions of workers across the globe.

AI-powered job automation is a pressing concern for many of those sceptical about the technology, especially as generative AI software becomes more commonplace in knowledge-working industries like marketing and writing. The recent Hollywood writers' strikes are a strong example of this.

Recent research by Statista on the issue is stark, forecasting that AI could lead to the creation of 69 million more jobs worldwide, but result in 83 million job losses.

While Australia ranks under the global average rate of adopting AI, it is nonetheless set to feel a significant degree of the impact. Indeed, a survey by Microsoft revealed 46% of Australian workers were concerned AI could take over their jobs.

AI and employees working from home

While challenges undoubtedly remain, AI has great potential to support WFH employees in becoming more efficient, cutting human error, and improving the remote work experience.

For example, video conferencing benefits massively from AI, automating composition, lighting, background image, background noise and more. This can help home-based workers look their best on camera, assisting with a professional appearance for internal team meetings and external clients.

AI can also boost efficiency in video meetings and conferences, building in high-tech features like language translation and real-time transcription for those with hearing impairments.

Al tech also automates admin work so home-based workers can focus on more vital duties. For example, by integrating AI into information-sharing systems on organisation-wide resource repositories, remote workers can more quickly locate files to complete tasks, cutting time spent searching for documents or waiting on co-workers to respond to queries.

Paired with a scanner like Brother's ADS-4700W, which can use OCR technology to quickly transform physical documents into digital files, this tech can assist home-based workers level up their document and resource management. OCR software simplifies data extraction and storage by allowing files to be scanned once and stored on secure cloud-based platforms. This convenient solution enables authorised individuals to access essential information from any remote location.

Incorporating AI into home-based work can also be a great productivity hack for remote workers. With the assistance of AI, employees working from home can automate repetitive everyday tasks leaving more time in the day for high-level, mentally stimulating work.

Furthermore, by analysing patterns in remote employees and behaviours such as when a worker usually takes breaks, AI can provide tailored recommendations for optimising productivity, while minimising the risk of burnout.

The introduction of an AI-driven help desk can also assist remote workers, providing technical support without needing access to a physical IT support worker.

However, any AI tools should be used with caution. Be sure to check your organisation's policy on the use of AI in work and if one isn't set, raise this with your managers.

AI and home businesses

For many home businesses, the benefits of AI far outweigh perceived risks given its potential for improved efficiency, better customer response time and cost-savings. Beyond these gains, there is a multitude of other ways AI can support.

One of these is the analytical power of AI to deliver business owners greater insight into customer behaviour and preferences. Bypassing the services of agencies, businesses can use AI with customer data for personalised marketing and sales forecasting.

For businesses that are run from home, AI-run chatbots can be a big help with customer service queries. With chatbots, home-based businesses can compete with bigger companies by giving high-level customer service, while still keeping labour costs down. Another thing to note here is that chatbots can learn from interactions with customers and continuously improve. This function is likely to be refined even more as AI tech advances.

As argued by sitecentre, AI can also be a game-changer for home-based businesses on delivering content. With AI-powered software, business data can be analysed to reveal what types of content perform best with target audiences, then topics can be authored based on that data. Once published on a business's website, this can help search engine optimisation (SEO) and the driving of customer traffic.

Marketing represents another opportunity for home-based businesses to deploy AI. Businesses can use AI to help personalise campaigns by leveraging customer data on things like preferences, behaviour and demographics.

There's also cybersecurity to think about. AI-powered tools can help to ensure the security and privacy of businesses by detecting and stopping cyber attacks with advanced threat intelligence. Unlike human cybersecurity operators, AI never sleeps, so it can monitor networks and devices for any signs of malicious activity around the clock.

Human resources is another potential winner from AI, cutting down the time spent on screening resumes through keyword analysis so business leaders can find candidates that closely match job qualifications and company needs.

How Brother can help with the future of work

As AI continues to evolve, both workers and businesses alike will require the tools and technology to keep up.

With our range of printing, scanning and labelling tools designed for both home and the office, Brother is continuing to develop new products to facilitate the future of work.

To learn more about how Brother can assist your at-home operations, contact us today.


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