AI will lighten our workloads, free up ‘thinking time’ and drive innovation

 |   Microsoft NZ Newscentre

Illustration by Jon Han with inspiration from Bing Image Creator

Microsoft’s latest Work Trend Index reveals how, alongside tools like Co-Pilot, AI is poised to create a whole new way of working for New Zealand. 

As the intensity of work increases, the pace which we do business has accelerated faster than humans can keep up with and this is impacting innovation, according to a new report from Microsoft. However, the findings from the 2023 New Zealand Work Trend Index report: “Will AI Fix Work? have also confirmed that globally, employees and leaders see AI as an opportunity, not a threat. 

As work evolves with AI, so must we. We want to help business leaders and workers better understand the opportunities around AI, and what steps they need to take to embrace it fully,” said Jane Mackarell, Microsoft’s ANZ Director of Modern Work and Surface . 

The report shares three key insights for business leaders as they look to understand and responsibly adopt AI for their organisation: 

  1. Digital debt is costing us innovation: Over half of New Zealanders (58%) have struggled with finding time and energy to get their work done, and those workers are 2.6 times more likely to say they struggle with innovation, with business leaders (68%) expressing their concerns around this.  
  1. An unexpected AI-employee alliance emerges: While 45% of New Zealanders say they’re worried AI will end up replacing their jobs, 3 in 4 people are comfortable using AI to support their role. Additionally, 62% of Kiwis said they would delegate as much work to AI as possible to lessen their workloads, suggesting they are optimistic about the role of AI in the workplace. Business leaders also indicated AI would be of value to the workplace, helping to boost productivity. 
  1. Work will demand a new AI aptitude: Findings revealed employees feel they need to be educated with new core competencies in AI, saying they currently don’t have the right capabilities to get their work done (61%). Leaders throughout New Zealand (76%) say employees they hire will need new skills to be prepared for the growth of AI.  

“What the research shows is that AI represents a whole new way of working, freeing us from digital debt and fuelling innovation, but we’ve got to invest in helping workers understand how to use it first.” 

“The volume of data, emails and chat conversations we’re expected to keep up with has outpaced our ability to process information efficiently. There’s an opportunity to make our existing communications more productive, as every minute spent managing this digital debt is a minute not spent on creative, innovative or impactful work. When we free the mind, we give ourselves the space to think strategically, and that’s where AI has a role to play,” said Jane. 

To empower businesses in the AI era, Microsoft is also introducing the Microsoft 365 Copilot Early Access Program with an initial wave of 600 enterprise customers worldwide in an invitation-only paid preview program. In addition, new capabilities will be added to Microsoft 365 Copilot and Microsoft Viva. 

“Next-generation AI promises to lift the weight of work, and organisations that move first to embrace it will –dramatically increase creativity and productivity for everyone. Microsoft 365 Copilot was launched earlier this year, bringing powerful new generative AI capabilities to apps people use every day like Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Microsoft Teams and more,” said Jane.  

The 2023 report derived results from an external study of 31,000 people in 31 countries, including 1,000 Kiwis across multiple industries. The report unearthed key insights business leaders should consider as they look to understand and responsibly adopt AI for their organisation. 

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