If your experience with AI is anything like ours, you’ll soon be wondering why you waited so long to start using it.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing processes for industries of all kinds, but as often happens with significant change, it’s also encountering resistance. Some fear losing their jobs to the “robots,” while others worry that machine-created products will be bland and boring. Both fears are largely unfounded as long as you educate yourself about how to make AI work for you.
An even bigger mistake would be to simply ignore AI, shrugging it off because you don’t think you need it. You could find yourself left behind like the proverbial buggy whip manufacturer who thought cars were just a fad for the super-rich.
AI is a tool—a sophisticated, complex tool, but a tool nonetheless—that can revolutionize your business processes and take the quality of your products and services to the next level. It can help your teams make better decisions, create efficiencies and productivity gains, and improve quality while reducing human error. For us at United Franchise Group, it has enabled our employees to ask more questions and “peel the onion” to get to the heart of an issue.
It does have its drawbacks and should be investigated thoroughly before you start using it, but ignoring it without educating yourself can do more damage than any harm you might imagine it can do.
The marks of an effective business leader are that they have an attitude of constant improvement, seek out lifelong learning, and are always looking for a better way forward. As a leader, I believe you should never stop educating yourself, whether that means earning academic degrees or just reading books and attending lectures on your own. It’s essential to keep up with trends in your industry, and AI is probably one of the most important trends you need to learn about.
In my 39 years in business, I have seen the same story play out many times. New technology is most often resisted and fought. People do not like change and don’t want to learn new ways. And yet, from computers to the internet, from cellphones to social media, the individuals and companies that embrace the change do much better than the ones that fight it.
I understand the hesitancy. I never resisted it when I first learned about AI, but I didn’t see how it differed from Google. Once I dug into it and played with it, I could see the possibilities. We use it in many ways throughout our various companies, more with public relations and bios, but also every day with social media posts.
At UFG, it’s just one of many technologies we embrace. From the consumer side, our front-facing websites utilize the latest enhancements. In our franchise development department, we are always looking for an edge, from auto-calling to texting, from data entry to data analytics.
Although I think they’re largely unfounded, fears of AI are quite real. The employee fears will always be there unless you introduce your team to it, explain that it can only help them, and train them with it. Show your employees that the new technology will only help, and assure them they are not going to lose their jobs because of it. You should also have a history of not laying people off because of new technology.
AI can be successful for you if you embrace it and encourage your teams to do the same and learn how it can help them, just like the internet and social media. Don’t rely on it alone, as it’s not perfect and needs humans to proofread and bring common sense to the table. But if your experience is anything like ours, you’ll soon be wondering why you waited so long.