12 need-to-know statistics to harness AI in operations

Headshot Whitney VigeWhitney Vige
24 Januari 2024
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Operations leaders are at the forefront of driving innovation and fostering long-term growth. With the ever-changing business environment and current emerging technologies, it's crucial that they also stay ahead of AI in the workplace.

The Work Innovation Lab, a think tank by Asana, conducted research and found that operations leaders are AI realists—they see the technology’s vast potential and acknowledge its complexities. This playbook from The Work Innovation Lab provides insights into how AI is currently being used in the workplace and offers actionable steps operations leaders can take to ensure successful AI implementation.

An operator's playbook for powering your organization with AI

Leverage AI to amplify human potential and drive organizational success. Download our AI playbook, designed specifically for operations professionals, for actionable insights on how to use AI in operations—including how to build a unified AI strategy.

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The current state of AI at work

There’s no doubt about it—AI is transforming how we work across all industries. In July 2023, The Work Innovation Lab surveyed more than 4,500 individual contributors, middle and senior managers, and executives in the U.S. and U.K. to uncover current views and attitudes toward AI among knowledge workers. Key findings reveal how these workers currently view and engage with AI:

  • Workers have a generally positive outlook on AI, with 52% of knowledge workers anticipating that AI will have a positive impact on their work. 

  • Engagement with AI is becoming commonplace at work, and more than one-third (36%) of knowledge workers are already using AI’s capabilities at least weekly in their roles.

  • Employees recognize the importance of data accuracy when it comes to AI, with 89% of knowledge workers saying it’s important that AI tools are created with accurate underlying data. 

  • Ethical implications aren’t overlooked, with 92% of knowledge workers expressing concerns regarding potential unethical AI applications. 

  • Not all knowledge workers have confidence in their organizations’ commitment to investing in AI tools, with only 31% expecting their organizations to invest in generative AI tools in Q4 2023. 

Operations leaders play a crucial role in guiding the success of AI in their organizations. The Work Innovation Lab’s research reveals that while operations executives understand the importance of AI, they tend to take a conservative approach toward its integration. This cautious stance largely stems from the complexities seen as obstacles to widespread adoption and effective use. These need-to-know statistics shed light on the unique challenges and perspectives of operations professionals when it comes to AI adoption:

  • Operations professionals feel they lack training, with only 16% saying they feel they’ve received role-specific AI training. 

  • Productivity concerns are significant—63% of operations professionals doubt AI’s ability to boost productivity, fearing it might even reduce it.

  • Forward-thinking operations professionals foresee AI playing a crucial role in operational tasks:

    • 50% foresee AI playing a role in goal-setting.

    • 55% believe AI can help achieve objectives more effectively than traditional methods.

    • 39% want to use AI for project planning.

  • Investment hesitancy is evident in operations, with only 31% of operations professionals anticipating their companies investing in AI in Q4 2023—a more conservative stance than other teams.

  • Communication gaps persist within the function, and a mere 32% of operations professionals feel there’s been transparent communication about AI plans.

5 ways operations leaders can spearhead AI success

Setting your organization up for AI success involves more than just an understanding of the technology—it requires a strategic approach tailored to the unique challenges and opportunities in operations. Here are some key ways to help your team embrace AI and steer your organization toward a more operationally efficient future:

  • Adopt a human-first approach: Your AI strategy should augment—not replace—your human workforce. Put your people at the center of the AI journey by championing ethical AI and leveraging the technology to free up employee time, enabling them to focus on strategic, high-value work.

  • Address the training gap head-on: Advocate for role-specific AI training within your organization to upskill your team and alleviate the skepticism surrounding AI. 

  • Tackle productivity concerns with data: Ease doubts by spotlighting concrete examples where AI has made a difference. Showcase data-driven case studies or successful pilot projects demonstrating how AI can streamline workflows and reduce operational bottlenecks. 

  • Make collaboration a priority: Initiate–and sustain—the AI conversation by emphasizing cross-functional collaboration. Leverage joint workshops and shared goals to elevate the operations team from participants to key stakeholders in your organization's AI journey.

  • Emphasize transparency to smooth adoption: Foster an environment of trust by being upfront about your AI initiatives. Keep your operations team in the loop about AI investments, project statuses, and future plans with regular updates and open lines of communication. 

Dig deeper

Ready to harness the full power of AI in your operations? Download the full report for more insights on how operations leaders are navigating the AI landscape. Plus, walk away with actionable strategies to embrace AI and elevate your team.

An operator's playbook for powering your organization with AI

Leverage AI to amplify human potential and drive organizational success. Download our AI playbook, designed specifically for operations professionals, for actionable insights on how to use AI in operations—including how to build a unified AI strategy.

CTA banner image for a playbook about the state of AI in operations. Features humans and machines collaborating in a business setting.

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