Only by nailing the workflow will a user grant you the time and permission to wow them with machine learning.ML, while “smart” must also be applied in a smart way to significantly improve a business workflow to the point it adds significant value for users. Tunguz cites several examples stating “ML can improve the workflow by reducing data entry time (RelateIQ), improving efficiency (Infer), providing novel insight (Chorus), among many other use cases.” Tunguz’s thoughts were influenced by Salesforce Chief Scientist, Richard Socher’s comments on the importance of workflows when employing these new technologies:
There are three key phases of enterprise A.I. rollout: data, algorithms, and workflows…you have to be very careful to think about how to empower users and customers with your A.I. features. This is very complex but very specific. Workflow integration for sales processes is very different from those for self-driving cars.However, in response to Socher’s statement, Tunguz emphasis further the critical challenge of workflow:
Of the three, workflows are the hardest. Only by nailing the workflow will a user grant you the time and permission to wow them with machine learning. Designing software that fits a user workflow is difficult. Better workflow is the hallmark of great software.
Smart Apps TodayBeyond the three examples Tunguz lists, there’s a wave of hundreds of new smart apps that impact the way we work and do business. The calendar app Sunrise, acquired by Microsoft and incorporated into Outlook’s calendar features, streamlined the workflow of planning and coordinating your schedule by detecting words and phrases you enter, then taking action for you. Begin to type an address and the app suggests the real addresses and lets you select it, rather than type it in full possibly with errors. Time saved. Accuracy improved. Amy from x.ai is an AI powered personal assistant service that schedules meetings. Amy eliminates the tedious back and forth manual effort required to find a common meeting time that works for everyone. Amy also fits into the workflow you already use: sending email. However, Amy improves on that workflow by doing all the back and forth for you while you put your time to better uses. Just Cc Amy on your invitation message to other attendees and Amy immediately goes to work for you. Time saved. Faster results. Fewer mistakes. (And no more thinking through all the time zone shifts.) However, is email alone, truly the most convenient way to schedule a meeting? Services like Calendly.com enable you to send a link to other meeting attendees so that they can view openings in your calendar and pick a time that’s best for them. That’s a “smart” and very convenient workflow without any fancy AI or ML required to get the job done. So what’s more convenient for you?
Does AI Mean Ease of Use?The challenge of applying AI to business problems, according to Tunguz, comes down to net value of the increased ease of use of the workflow itself asking:
How can software improve a current workflow to such an extent that a user is willing to stop their current workflow and learn a new one?