The top three ways to use generative AI to empower knowledge workers

The future of generative AI is exciting, but there can be implications if innovations are not built responsibly.

By Cynthia Stoddard

Though generative AI is still a nascent technology, it is already being adopted by teams across companies to unleash new levels of productivity and creativity. Marketers are deploying generative AI to create personalized customer journeys. Designers are using the technology to boost brainstorming and iterate between different content layouts more quickly. The future of technology is exciting, but there can be implications if these innovations are not built responsibly.

As Adobe’s CIO, I get questions from both our internal teams and other technology leaders: how can generative AI add real value for knowledge workers—at an enterprise level? Adobe is a producer and consumer of generative AI technologies, and this question is urgent for us in both capacities. It’s also a question that CIOs of large companies are uniquely positioned to answer. We have a distinct view into different teams across our organizations, and working with customers gives us more opportunities to enhance business functions.

Our approach

When it comes to AI at Adobe, my team has taken a comprehensive approach that includes investment in foundational AI, strategic adoption, an AI ethics framework, legal considerations, security, and content authentication. ​The rollout follows a phased approach, starting with pilot groups and building communities around AI. ​

This approach includes experimenting with and documenting use cases like writing and editing, data analysis, presentations and employee onboarding, corporate training, employee portals, and improved personalization across HR channels. The rollouts are accompanied by training podcasts and other resources to educate and empower employees to use AI in ways that improve their work and keep them more engaged. ​

Unlocking productivity with documents

While there are innumerable ways that CIOs can leverage generative AI to help surface value at scale for knowledge workers, I’d like to focus on digital documents—a space in which Adobe has been a leader for over 30 years. Whether they are sales associates who spend hours responding to requests for proposals (RFPs) or customizing presentations, marketers who need competitive intel for their next campaign, or legal and finance teams who need to consume, analyze, and summarize massive amounts of complex information—documents are a core part of knowledge workers’ daily work life. Despite their ubiquity and the fact that critical information lives inside companies’ documents (from research reports to contracts to white papers to confidential strategies and even intellectual property), most knowledge workers are experiencing information overload. The impact on both employee productivity and engagement is real.

Lessons from customer zero

Adobe invented the PDF and we’ve been innovating new ways for knowledge workers to get more productive with their digital documents for decades. Earlier this year, the Acrobat team approached my team about launching an all-employee beta for the new generative AI-powered AI Assistant. The tool is designed to help people consume the information in documents faster and enable them to consolidate and format information into business content.

I faced all the same questions every CIO is asking about deploying generative AI across their business— from security and governance to use cases and value. We discovered the following three specific ways where generative AI helped (and is still helping) our employees work smarter and improve productivity.

  1. Faster time to knowledge
    Our employees used AI Assistant to close the gap between understanding and action for large, complicated documents. The generative AI-powered tool’s summary feature automatically generates an overview to give readers a quick understanding of the content. A conversational interface allows employees to “chat” with their documents and provides a list of suggested questions to help them get started. To get more details, employees can ask the assistant to generate top takeaways or surface only the information on a specific topic. At Adobe, our R&D teams used to spend more than 10 hours a week reading and analyzing technical white papers and industry reports. With generative AI, they’ve been able to nearly halve that time by asking questions and getting answers about exactly what they need to know and instantly identifying trends or surfacing inconsistencies across multiple documents.
  2. Easy navigation and verification
    AI-powered chat is gaining ground on traditional search when it comes to navigating the internet. However, there are still challenges when it comes to accuracy and connecting responses to the source. Acrobat AI Assistant takes a more focused approach, applying generative AI to the set of documents employees select and providing hot links and clickable citations along with responses. So instead of using the search function to locate random words or trying to scan through dozens of pages for the information they need, AI Assistant generates both responses and clickable citations and links, allowing employees to navigate quickly to the source where they can quickly verify the information and move on, or spend time deep diving to learn more. One example of where generative AI is having a huge productivity impact is with our sales teams who spend hours researching prospects by reading materials like annual reports as well as responding to RFPs. Consuming that information and finding just the right details for RPFs can cost each salesperson more than eight hours a week. Armed with AI Assistant, sales associates quickly navigate pages of documents and identify critical intelligence to personalize pitch decks and instantly find and verify technical details for RFPs, cutting the time they spend down to about four hours.
  3. Creating business content
    One of the most interesting use cases we helped validate is taking information in documents and formatting and repurposing that information into business content. With nearly 30,000 employees dispersed across regions, we have a lot of employees who work asynchronously and depend on technology and colleagues to keep them up to date. Using generative AI, employees can now summarize meeting transcripts, surface action items, and instantly format the information into an email for sharing with their teams or a report for their manager. Before starting the beta, our communications teams reported spending a full workday (seven to 10 hours) per week transforming documents like white papers and research reports into derivative content like media briefing decks, social media posts, blogs, and other thought leadership content. Today they’re saving more than five hours a week by instantly generating first drafts with the help of generative AI.

Simple, safe, and responsible

CIOs love learning about and testing new technologies, but at times they can require lengthy evaluations and implementation processes. Acrobat AI Assistant can be deployed in minutes on the desktop, web, or mobile apps employees already know and use every day. Acrobat AI Assistant leverages a variety of processes, protocols, and technologies so our customers’ data remains their data and they can deploy the features with confidence. No document content is stored or used to train AI Assistant without customers’ consent, and the features only deliver insights from documents users provide. For more information about Adobe is deploying generative AI safely, visit here.

Generative AI is an incredibly exciting technology with incredible potential to help every knowledge worker work smarter and more productively. By having the right guardrails in place, identifying high-value use cases, and providing ongoing training and education to encourage successful adoption, technology leaders can support their workforce and companies to be wildly successful in our AI-accelerated world.

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