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Why Nolij Thinks AI Will Lead to A More Collaborative Workforce

Why Nolij Thinks AI Will Lead to A More Collaborative Workforce

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being rapidly incorporated into the workplace and our daily lives, fundamentally disrupting the way we live and work. Machines are transforming the nature of work and the workplace itself by taking over more of the tasks performed by people, complementing the work that we do, and even performing certain tasks that go beyond human abilities. In medicine, machine learning algorithms are used to assess images such as scans and x-rays, looking for early warning signs of disease. New generations of AI-powered autonomous systems are increasingly being employed in a variety of fields, ranging from self-driving cars to customer service bots and automated supermarket check-outs. Concern over this looming shift is widespread. AI is often perceived as something that will eventually replace people, lead to widespread job losses and devalued interpersonal relations at work.

When reflecting on AI in the workplace many people envision a dystopian environment where robots take control of day-to-day activities or decisions, essentially making people obsolete. It is emerging AI systems beyond-human cognitive abilities that many fear will dehumanization the future workforce. So, how will AI technologies really change the role of people in the workplace of the future? AI will automate repetitive, process-oriented, schedule-related tasks, which will allow employees to focus on more people-oriented activities, like employee engagement, and utilize skills such as empathy, social skills, and emotional intelligence, analysis and big-picture decision making. Taking these factors into account, we built an AI product called Renaissance to help procurement and acquisition professionals. Renaissance scans millions of documents at lightning speed to locate relevant data and frees up the workforce to focus on mission-critical work. Our AI product allows employees to concentrate on the soft skills required to move the business forward while automating operational processes.

As people skills become the focus, higher cognitive skills such as analysis, creativity and critical thinking will be even more valuable. These skills will give organizations the competencies to be more innovative, which will in turn lead to rapid growth. Therefore, organizations benefit from an increased in productivity generated by greater automation, meaning more revenue that can be spent on creating jobs throughout all the sectors.

Renaissance demonstrates that the dystopian perception of AI domination over people in the workplace is not wholly accurate. The unique capabilities of human beings are more relevant than ever, even in the face of rapid technological progress. We embrace AI technologies by exploring how it will augment human capabilities to cultivate a broader view of systems. In direct contrast to dystopian perceptions, AI could lead to a workforce based on enhanced human collaboration. 

However, what we do anticipate is that employees will need to contend with significant workforce transitions by acquiring new skills and adapting to the increasingly proficient machines in the workplace. As company leaders, it will be imperative for us to navigate large-scale change in a variety of areas while keeping human capabilities and values front and center. While AI will undoubtedly displace some jobs, such displacement will create new opportunities as adoption to new technologies have done previously. For example, we have seen a near eradication of jobs like switchboard operator, travel agent, or elevator operator. Meanwhile, new titles like data scientist, app developer, and social media director have emerged. We at Nolij promote forging a partnership between AI and the workforce to create optimal outcomes for our clients, rather than a competition between people and machines.

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Nolij Blends Microservices and AI to Help HHS “Buy Smarter”

Nolij Blends Microservices and AI to Help HHS “Buy Smarter”

Nolij Consulting, LLC, a NITAAC CIO-SP3-Small Business Contract Holder, successfully combined microservices with AI to help one federal department modernize and transform its procurement processes. Procurement can be a time-consuming, arduous process. Sometimes the overall cost and time invested are actually disproportionate to the benefits. Because multiple people buy the same or similar items at different times, from different vendors, and at different costs, it can be nearly impossible to compare purchases and identify departmental or organizational needs – and opportunities for economies of scale.

When the Office of Management and Budget tasked federal agencies in May 2017 with submitting a reform plan to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of their programs, the Department of Health and Human Services embarked on a multi-faceted department-wide transformation effort known as ReImagine HHS. A key component of that effort is HHS’ BuySmarter initiative, designed to transform and modernize the way the Department acquires goods and services. With more than $24 Billion in annual spend, HHS saw an opportunity to leverage Artificial Intelligence and e-commerce solutions to establish a cohesive acquisition structure across the department and drive better pricing, better terms, and recognize greater economies of scale. And shift the focus of its acquisition professionals to higher-priority mission-critical work.

Nolij Consulting developed a first-of-its-kind Artificial Intelligence tool for use in HHS’ BuySmarter initiative. The tool uses AI to compare and contrast purchases from almost two million current contract documents comprising 5-7 billion words, as well as schedules and public price lists, to enable strategic sourcing and group purchasing functions. By extracting information directly from the text of existing contracts, the tool enables HHS acquisition professionals, their subject matter experts and customers to easily access and compare similar purchases. This readily-accessible knowledge enables them to create more informed solicitations and more effectively negotiate the terms of new purchases.

The tool’s “human-centered” acquisition approach doesn’t require the user to have a perfect definition to search for an item – it walks them through a specific process of descriptive terms to provide the most relevant results.

Acquisition professionals, their Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), and customers can use this valuable information to craft more informed solicitations, more effectively negotiate the terms of new purchases, and unlock the potential for large group purchases. Daily procurement activities are ultimately faster, more accurate and less complicated.