Unlocking productivity: The impact of Generative AI strategies

From boosting productivity to a 29% increase in speed, discover how AI elevates quality, creativity and staff wellbeing.

Last Updated: 12 Dec 2023

Throughout history, pivotal technological advancements have emerged at critical junctures – think the printing press, the steam engine and the public internet. Now, Generative AI arrives to offer a transformative leap in our ability to democratise knowledge and enhance productivity.

Given the UK’s sluggish productivity growth, a key challenge is overcoming ‘digital debt’. The relentless influx of data, messages, emails and meetings has overwhelmed our capacity to process it all. Users of modern productivity tools get 250+ daily emails and 150 chats, while global meetings per person have surged 300% since 2020. Microsoft's Work Trends Index underscores the toll on daily performance, revealing that 62% spend excessive time searching for information, and 64% struggle to balance job demands.

Business leaders have noticed: 60% are worried about a lack of innovation from their teams. Yet, managing diverse data formats across departments leaves senior executives with minimal time to make informed decisions. 


Assessing AI's impact

The scale and potential impact of AI could cause anxiety in the boldest of business leaders. There’s pressure to learn about the tech, to enable employees to access it responsibly, and find ways to leverage it for bottom-line improvements… quickly. 

As workplace culture expert, Bruce Daisley, comments: “You're not competing against AI, you're competing against someone else using AI.”

To help simplify things, here are three key performance areas worth focusing on, when evaluating the business case for generative AI: 

  • Productivity and speed: Can it accelerate task completion?

  • Quality and creativity: Will it elevate task standards?

  • Focus, effort and energy: Can it enhance staff wellbeing and mental capacity?

It’s worth reflecting on how, as a business leader, an AI assistant with secure, privacy protected access to all the same work documents and information as you, could help. It might be summarising the day ahead and preparing salient data points for your meetings, or interrogating Excel reports to answer your questions, if your background isn’t financial. Or even offering coaching, such as reviewing an important memo to make it more concise or to add a splash of humour.


Insights from early Adopters

Microsoft has been tracking user feedback from early adopters of Copilot for Microsoft 365 – the everyday generative AI companion that’s integrated into the productivity apps people use every day such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Teams – and the results are striking.

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70% of users reported a boost in productivity and a 29% increase in task speed. The impact is profound – perhaps akin to operating with the efficiency of someone with multiple years more experience.

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68% of respondents say quality and creativity also improved, with 85% saying they get to a good first draft faster.. Copilot's efficiency extends to saving time on missed meetings, email processing and file retrieval

If you can make work feel like less of a slog and provide staff with more time and energy to focus on meaningful, higher value activity, from strategic thinking to customer interaction, it can only improve company culture and make organisations better equipped to deal with any challenge they might face. Which is why business leaders need a strategy to unlock the value of AI, right now.


A strategic approach to AI

Business leaders must craft a tailored strategy to unlock AI's value. Here are five key areas to focus on:

  1. Define prioritised business needs

Successful AI projects begin by clearly prioritising business needs. Consider what areas or which departments could benefit from AI assistance – which might include employee experience, customer engagement, or internal business processes. 

  1. Identify use cases

Next, identify the use cases best suited to meeting the business needs you have prioritised. The best use cases deliver value in multiple ways. For example, Copilot’s conversational search saves time and improves the customer experience, while call summarisation helps front-line employees.

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  1. Establish criteria 

The next step is to agree which use cases to prioritise. It’s a good idea to speak to a diverse range of people and teams across multiple areas of expertise within your organisation, and discuss potential business impact, feasibility and implementation time. This will help you develop a robust understanding of where you will achieve the quickest, best results. 

  1. Decide how you will measure value

Track reported changes in employee wellbeing and energy, as well as productivity, to ensure you understand AI’s broader strategic and business value..

  1. Encourage experimentation 

Learning how to unlock the value of AI should be seen as something of an experiment. One that is well prepared and planned for, but also one that empowers people to learn by doing. It’s easy to spend too much time discussing potential use cases, and not enough getting pilot projects into production. 


Seizing the opportunity

Generative AI marks a historic opportunity for business leaders to deepen strategic thinking because it creates a newfound capacity for reflecting on what truly matters for each business. 

To explore further and discover how AI can boost productivity, efficiency and create value, download Microsoft's free eBook, AI Use Cases for Business Leaders, or visit the Copilot home page for more insights relating to your organisation's needs.