In recent months, we’ve created a dedicated AI development team that is rapid prototyping a range of enhancements to our platform, and our Product team has their ear to the ground, actively listening to our customers and placing bets on where this transformative technology will lead our industry.
At the same time, we’ve also recognized the need for Silverchair’s internal operations to evolve to match the exciting challenges we are already facing. This means not only implementing technologies that unlock access to higher quality and greater efficiency, but also bringing our people along the change curve so that they might fully realize the potential of AI to augment their contributions and create a professional context replete with imaginative opportunity.
Here’s what our AI upskilling journey at Silverchair has looked like so far, and what we’d recommend to other organizations looking to build these strengths internally.
From Skepticism to StrategyAs the AI tsunami began to crest earlier this year, our Chief Technology Officer, Stuart Leitch, quickly grasped the enormity of the changes to come and stepped into the role of evangelist-in-chief. Stuart dove into the technology as well as related critiques and philosophical considerations, generating compelling communications that have humanized the capabilities and risks of AI for internal and external audiences alike. (If you are interested in a taste of Stuart’s captivating oratory, watch his five-minute DisruptHR talk from October.)
Stuart’s messaging was at first received by a number of Silverchairians as eccentric at best and, at worst, dystopian. As the world began to quickly organize around these principles, however, the chatter began to quiet and our people instead began to wonder how best to navigate the inevitable changes AI will bring to our work and our world.
One of our earliest actions was to create a dedicated space in our internal wiki site to centralize AI-related learning, activities, and policies. The space now includes a regularly updated reading list (highlights of which we share in our new monthly series), role-specific use cases and examples, overviews of various AI tools and their strengths and weaknesses, and companywide communications related to AI and LLMs.
Enhancing Job Effectiveness with AI PrecisionNext, we recognized the need to support our AI activities with actual resources. To centralize and operationalize AI activities, we elevated Micah Jones, previously our Program Director overseeing platform features and analytics, to be Director of AI Transformation. Micah has been working in partnership with me to engage our internal community in surfacing and testing the distinct applications of AI to each of our major role groups and departments.
Micah also now leads a team solely dedicated to rapid iteration and experimentation with AI tools and applications. The team has defined a great number of use cases both for internal workflows as well as publisher applications. One such use case involved converting the transcripts of the 2023 Platform Strategies sessions into concise summaries—an act that previously took many days and weeks but was achieved instead in a matter of seconds. The AI team also demoed publisher use cases to clients in a recent virtual event and are hosting client workshops to identify more areas for investigation and development.
Internally, we’re encouraging adoption by providing everyone at Silverchair with a collection of SilverPrompts™ they can use to upgrade the quality and speed of a range of job-related activities. These prompts have been developed with our AI power-users in various roles to optimize the prompt generation process and yield the best possible results. Based on the feedback we gather during this testing period, we will start 2024 with a clear understanding of which prompts will be essential to continued effectiveness in certain roles, versus which can continue to remain experimental.
Concurrently, we have provided our teams with universal access to AI using SilverchairGPT™ – an AI enterprise solution that protects Silverchair’s confidential information. More recently, our AI team has started to feed internal operational data to a vector database (Azure Cognitive Search), thus creating SilverChat™, a knowledge management system that will learn our ways of working and become an invaluable resource to current and future Silverchairians. In the future, for example, a Silverchairian will be able to ask SilverChat to explain the major features of the Silverchair Platform, how to register for benefits, what relevant professional development opportunities are available for their job, and just about anything else related to what it means to work here. Naturally, our People Operations team is already in the process of designing a new employee onboarding component using SilverChat technology.
Revolutionizing Reviews: AI-Driven Performance InsightsWe are also unveiling a 2023 annual review process that is fully AI-driven, taking advantage of the ease with which this technology can analyze, synthesize, and summarize complex information. We’ve been delighted to see, for example, how AI can generate startling performance and developmental insights by consuming a list of someone’s top 5 Clifton Strengths (Silverchair embraces a strengths-based performance management system), their job description, their goals, and their peer feedback. We’ve started to tap into the enormous potential of AI technology to dialogue with people to provide not only real-time feedback on work product, but also genuine insights regarding how they can best leverage their unique talents to outperform expectations.
We do not expect everyone at Silverchair to participate in new AI product development. At the same time, we recognize that the ability to competently interact with large language models will soon be an essential skill required of all knowledge workers. We take seriously our obligation to signal this change clearly and prepare our people to metabolize the AI transformation well and emerge stronger and more capable than ever.
Five Steps to AI UpskillingTrying to incorporate AI more seamlessly into your organization? Based on our learnings, we recommend:
- Get organized: To help avoid duplication of efforts and to maximize knowledge sharing, establish clear and regular venues for disparate team members to exchange learnings and experiences.
- Empower your teams: Organizational efforts to incorporate AI will only be as successful as your team members are comfortable. So, give clear guidelines for organizational use, then encourage people to experiment on their own to gain experience and fluency with these tools.
- Put your money where your mouth is: You’ll only get but so far by piling AI-related duties onto existing job functions. For true progress, dedicate organizational resources to the effort by carving out time, people, and/or funds to support your AI goals.
- Work with what you have: In addition to exploring exciting new products, features, and business models, investigate what existing organizational workflows and bottlenecks could be streamlined with the use of AI.
- Stay flexible: With the incredible speed at which AI is evolving, be careful not to build any fixed structures or place all your bets on in a single AI application or model. New products and related capabilities are emerging daily, so build in the agility to adapt as these changes unfold.