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How is AI shaping the future of internal communications?

Content writing bots, sentiment analysis, automated campaigns. AI is no longer on the horizon but here and ready to play its part in transforming the future of work. What does an engagement strategy that leverages AI and automation look like? How can internal comms embrace AI and automation to solve some of their biggest challenges to date?

A brave new world for internal comms

For many departments, AI’s role is commonsense: IT, Finance – even Marketing, all involve resource-intensive tasks that can be efficiently automated. At a glance, internal comms seem less compatible with AI partly because tools like content-writing bots are perceived more as a threat than a productivity enabler. But in reality, AI and automation innovations stand to solve some of the biggest internal comms challenges to date, including:

  • Combating communications overload and cutting through excess noise as the volume of content increases
  • Battling for employee attention against other channels, sources, and consumer media and marketing
  • Alleviating employees’ engagement fatigue while still keeping people updated
  • Meeting the growing desire for more personalized, relevant experiences
  • Reducing the burden on communicators to deliver consumer-grade campaigns
  • Driving organic engagement and human connection in a more digital world of work

Once the dream of sci-fi novels and dystopian films, today artificial intelligence is the driving force behind the way we find and consume content, how we turn big data into insight, and how we go about our work – even when we don’t realize it.

Many people fear AI and automation, many more don’t understand how it works. Almost all of us fail to realize just how many things that we take for granted use AI in some form. As consumers AI is already shaping our expectations, delivering hyper-relevant, personalized experiences that turn user-data into fuel for engagement. There’s so much more to internal comms AI than bots that write articles for you – so how exactly are AI and automation bringing new capabilities to the IC arsenal?

5 ways AI is creating value for internal comms

AI can provide significant value to internal communications in a variety of ways, and business leaders are taking note: 72% of decision-makers agree that AI can enable humans to focus on more meaningful work, per PwC.

"What if real innovation happens instead in the blossoming relationship between man and machine? A fully engaged workforce, free to explore more open, strategic approaches, can only be motivated and inspired to create game-changing work. [...] We are living in an ever-changing world, where AI might free us up to create, like in the Renaissance."

Beyond the Hype: AI and the Digital Workplace

AI and the digital workplace guide pages

Guides

Beyond the hype: AI and the digital workplace

Will AI take over your job? Or is it changing the fundamental nature of the digital workplace? Together with AI experts from Microsoft and ClearBox's Sam Marshall, Unily aims to dispel popular myths surrounding AI in the digital workplace and bring you real-world examples of how you can employ AI technologies in your digital workplace.

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It's important to briefly note the difference between AI and automation and their application in the workplace. Internal comms can leverage automation to outsource menial, repetitive tasks and free up time for more creative, human jobs. This means automated tracking and analytics, automated workflows for campaigns, even automated content delivery. AI, on the other hand, is the underlying technology (or intelligence) that powers this automation – think the algorithms that determine which content is shown to users, or that processes and finds patterns in data to then measure and analyze. Put simply, automation is powered by formulas and rules, whereas AI focuses on the creation of hyper-intelligent tools, like its subset ‘machine-learning.’

#1. Intelligent, personal experiences for every user

In our personal lives, content finds us. With little effort we are recommended almost anything we want to watch, listen to, or read. As a result, employee expectations demand the same kind of personalization at work that we’ve grown accustomed to as consumers.

Communications homepage with personalized content and experiences on iPad

Machine-learning and intelligent content delivery – putting the right content in front of the right people at the right time, and through the right channel – will play a big role in the future of employee engagement. Analyzing user activity and predicting what will engage them most, and building unique profiles for users and continually improving recommendations based on activity, helps deliver experiences the modern employee demands without asking communicators to granularly target each individual.

Future of workplace guide

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Future of the workplace 2030+

How will technology and artificial intelligence change the way we work? What will the offices of the future look like? What skills will be valued and how can we futureproof both our business' and our personal success? Download our brand new report in partnership with Kjaer Global for answers to these questions and more...

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#2. Automated campaigns build organic engagement

The marketer’s secret weapon has made its way inside the workforce. Internal communicators can make use of Engagement Automation to plan, schedule, automate, and track comms campaigns from one hub and take content to the next level.

Engagement Automation comms campaign

Engagement Automation allows internal comms to build out automated campaigns that support a modern approach to employee engagement, rivalling what we see in our personal lives. Bringing together market-leading analytics and workflow engines, communicators can set and track objectives and build in actions that respond in real-time to those goals. Want more people to read your latest CEO update? Build in follow-up push notifications or email broadcasts to retarget employees yet to view content until your goals are met. This is just one of the ways in which AI technology can bring an automated approach to something as personal and human as engagement.

Podcasts

Internal communications trends 2022

In episode 14 of the Unily Podcast we discuss the top internal comms trends of 2022 that IC leaders need to watch out for.

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#3. Automation streamlines tasks

While internal comms and AI may seem incompatible, in truth there are a litany of tasks that could be automated to free up valuable time for communicators and meet the growing demands of employees. Here's where a combination of light-touch AI and automated processes can make a big difference: take resource-intensive tasks and automate them in seconds.

Intranet news article AI translated on iPhone for personalized user experience

Events

Unite 22

Unite 22 is the only employee experience conference you need to attend in 2022. Get ready for 3 half-days that push hybrid event delivery to the MAX with live keynotes, breakouts, and roundtables. Watch online or attend a watch party in London or New York. Get inspired with keynotes from Seth Godin, The Estée Lauder Companies, ADP, Cardinal Health, and more. Get your sweat on with yoga sculpt and HIIT workouts. Soak up island vibes at an after party with reggae, rum, and feel-good fun. Game on.

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Communicators can leverage features like AI-powered multilingual translation to overcome language barriers and provide tailored content experiences to global workforces. You can also use AI content-tagging to automatically add metadata to images, videos, and other assets, so you’ll never lose them in your CMS again.

#4. AI enhances user experiences

Our perceptions of AI and automation have been shaped in large part by our initial interactions with it. In the consumer world, many people’s first introduction to AI came in the form of AI assistants, like Alexa and Siri. Our experiences with these tools became flag-bearers for what we think and believe about AI, which explains why chatbots and search experiences often come to mind first when we talk about AI in the workplace.

Automated chatbots lend a valuable hand in taking FAQs and search queries from users and making them more interactive and immediate – they successfully answer over 80% of all questions. They also provide a useful source of data that allows you to measure what questions and issues arise most often and adjust certain aspects of your comms strategy in response.

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How to supercharge your internal comms

In today’s workplace, effective internal communications are vital to business success. Engaged employees are a company’s greatest asset, but with the workplace transforming at pace, the way we communicate must adapt. This comprehensive guide offers a collection of insights to support internal communicators to supercharge their strategy for the future of work.

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#5. Content-writing bots break writers’ block

As the amount of content we consume increases year-on-year, having doubled since 2020 to almost 7 hours every day, internal communicators are under more and more pressure to keep up with our voracious appetite for content in the attention economy.

Content-writing bots have proven a controversial development in the AI space, as this is where AI seems to encroach on the responsibilities of internal comms most. But this is also where the distinct gap between the abilities of neural networks versus the tone and intuition of human communication is most visible. So don’t rely on content writing bots to replace internal comms. Lean on them to produce structures and body copy for content quickly and at volume. Then come in and edit this down into the desired, high-quality content your employees need.

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This approach saves time, resources, and perfectly symbolizes the future of AI and IC: Working hand-in-hand to solve menial problems and streamline tasks, yet continue to deliver high-quality, emotive, and, most importantly, human communications.

Keep ahead of the game with an agile approach

Internal comms must remain agile to change to be able to capitalize on the value that AI, automation, and other emergent technologies offer. As AI technology continues to develop, the reality of internal communications augmented by AI, but still human at their core, grows closer every day, with plenty of tools available today.

"The narrative of workplace automation and AI is changing from one of fear – pitting machines against individuals – to opportunity. Humans empowered and augmented by the best in smart technology are key to new value creation for all."

David Bent - Strategist & Honorary Senior Research Associate at UCL (AOT)

AI and automation is the future of work, promising unique value to all corners of the workforce. The enterprise and internal comms tech landscape is rapidly changing, so deciding on which tools to support your digital strategy can be make or break. An evergreen employee experience platform provides the agility and flexibility you need to stay at the forefront of technological innovation and deliver the best comms experiences to your employees.

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