This years theme at the annual Microsoft Future Decoded conference was strongly centred around Artificial Intelligence (AI). Demonstrating how AI, a powerful tool, can be used for good in order to be more sustainable or to tackle environmental issues such as illegal fishing or deforestation, Microsoft were keen to display the worldwide benefits of using modern technology. Further displaying how AI can create positive outcomes, there were also discussions around how organisations can use AI to dispel internal issues of diversity and equality. However, there were concerns around whether companies are implementing or using AI in the most effective way and they reported that this usually comes down to a lack of understanding due to a shortfall of communication within organisations around AI. As a result, there were many discussions and speeches focused on teamwork and working collaboratively to ensure that when a company wishes to implement AI, there is already this communication and training present across the whole organisation to ensure that it is successful.
One afternoon keynote speech was given by two individuals - Helen Sharman who was the first Briton and woman to go into space and Tim Peake the first British European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut. They spoke about the technology that allowed them to go into space and how although their missions wouldn’t have been possible without the technology, they also wouldn’t have been successful unless they could work extremely well as a team. Helen spoke about a piece of equipment malfunctioning and unless each member of the team knew their role and knew exactly what to do in that moment which had come from many hours working together beforehand, they wouldn’t have made it back to earth. Helen and Tim begun their missions in 1991 and 2015 respectively and so technology had dramatically advanced between those two dates, but they both spoke about the most important aspect of the success of their trip being the team around them, showing that however intelligent technology becomes, teamwork and working collaboratively within a team is always a core aspect of success. Helen spoke about how everyone that she worked with lived and breathed the same goals, vision and values. This meant that everyone in the team were unified and on board with accepting new ideas, technologies and ways of working. In this same way, it is vital to build a strong culture and have common goals in the workplace, whatever industry that may be in. Creating an environment which is inclusive of all employees, where everyone feels as though they are part of a team means that new ideas can be discussed and new technology seamlessly implemented.
Although 56% of companies in the UK currently use some form of AI, many employees have said that their teams have not properly spoken about it. To be implemented effectively, AI needs to be understood, however as with any change in an organisation it is less about the product or technology but more about the people. Whilst Microsoft were extremely excited about the possibilities of AI, they wanted to make it clear that organisations will only really be able to successfully implement AI if the foundations of communication and collaboration are there to begin with.
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