Productivity is slowing: Here’s how AI can help

February 24, 2024
Eilon Reshef

Eilon Reshef

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After reaching record heights during the pandemic, U.S. worker productivity metrics have leveled out. Productivity—measured by output per hour worked—has traditionally increased apace with new technologies becoming available to boost efficiencies. So, what gives?

From my vantage point, it’s not for lack of motivation or office culture problems. It comes down to the fact that there are still only 24 hours in a day and more demands to meet than ever. Administrative tasks such as reporting and the persistence of legacy tools creates a downward drag on workers’ productivity.

Let’s look at revenue generation, for example. Sales reps are spending more time than ever completing administrative tasks—think updating CRM systems, following up with prospects and chasing cold leads. Forrester researchers report that tasks like this comprise a full 77% of sales reps’ time. That’s less than one-quarter of their time reps are spending on revenue-generating activities—and that’s got to change.

As with many grand challenges in history, technology can be one solution. I believe AI offers a meaningful path forward for businesses struggling with low team productivity. A year into the revolution, businesses have steadily been turning to AI as a true copilot to boost teams’ productivity by streamlining and automating away some of the drudgery.

Using AI To Jumpstart Productivity

Inform


One of generative AI’s strongest distinguishing capabilities is that it can produce text far more quickly than humans. Businesses can leverage generative AI to ensure key stakeholders are always up to date with the information they need. For example, in the world of sales, AI can figure out who is involved with an account, what they need to know based on their role and their company’s playbooks, and ensure that the right information can be pushed to the right people at the right time for execution.


One of generative AI’s strongest distinguishing capabilities is that it can produce text far more quickly than humans. Businesses can leverage generative AI to ensure key stakeholders are always up to date with the information they need. For example, in the world of sales, AI can figure out who is involved with an account, what they need to know based on their role and their company’s playbooks, and ensure that the right information can be pushed to the right people at the right time for execution.

This works at all levels of the organization. Account managers may need to know about others’ interactions with their account, whereas executives may need aggregate information such as changes to the status of a deal or market patterns. Generative AI can produce these accurate summaries and deliver relevant information across company roles.

Guide

AI can carry out work at scale such as finding coachable moments, providing playbooks and guiding teams to take the next steps to drive results. AI tools can give teams a sense of which next steps will be most useful and how to focus only on these—therefore optimizing their efforts.

This can include:

• How and when to follow up with a prospect who has seen a demo but not committed to a trial.

• How to coach certain employees who might be struggling or falling behind.

• Best practices to help achieve strategic outcomes.

By being trained on high volumes of relevant data, AI can provide precise guidance to teams on the best next steps to take to drive results.

Optimize

Generative AI has become an extremely useful tool for many in its ability to streamline and automate certain tasks, optimizing its utility as well as a company’s resources. What are those tasks? Simple touchpoints that don’t put the credibility of your company at risk but that are still crucial to day-to-day operations. Tasks like:

• Drafting follow-up emails.

• Rephrasing content for a different audience.

• Summarizing meetings into a succinct brief.

• Filling information into systems (like a CRM).

AI that produces outcomes can substantially boost employee productivity by simplifying these tasks. For example, our internal research revealed that reviewing meeting summaries can deliver 66% greater time savings as compared to listening to call recordings.

The Power Of AI: Automate And Operationalize Your Workflows

AI is here, and it’s deeply ingraining itself into companies’ workflows. And, by and large, we aren’t seeing it replace salespeople or other professionals but instead streamlining and automating some of the drudgery that previously ate up so much of their time and effort. AI is indeed taking its spot as a valuable copilot.

As companies begin to operationalize AI, they know that a key productivity killer is change management. By finding the right AI tools that easily plug into teams’ existing workflows and offload some of the more straightforward tasks, teams can take advantage of the technology and the efficiencies it delivers without undergoing an extensive change management process. Productivity gains can be realized right away. And the more productivity it can hand back to the sales reps, the more they’ll be able to drive their companies’ growth engines.