A significant number of workers across the globe have been forced to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Enterprises saw a temporary dip in workforce productivity; however, with time, employee productivity has surged. A survey with 42 Indian CXOs by Deloitte says that 60% of the companies have reported an increase in individual employee productivity. Many organizations who were earlier not in favor of remote working, have been forced to try it and have realized that with certain policy changes, a remote working model can be beneficial for their organizations.

There is no doubt that working from home is going to be the “New Normal” for knowledge workers. This also means that there will be an increased dependency and more working hours spent on collaboration tools for meetings. Team meetings will become even more frequent and integral to the company culture than what they are today. These meetings help in building team dynamics and achieving the team’s objectives. However, we all know that these meetings can be more productive if the mechanics of the meetings were designed to help participants rather than distract them. This is where AI can help.

Let us delve deeper into a few examples of how AI can help make these meetings smarter and channel the energies of the participants into increasing their creative outputs and ideas.

Automated meeting notes for a free flow of ideas

Have you ever been the person responsible for taking meeting notes and find yourself in constant pursuit of what the last speaker just said? I have been in a similar position quite a few times, and at the end of the meeting, I could barely summarize the entire session if asked to do so. Also, there is a limit to how much we can remember and comprehend.

Automated meeting notes are one of the simplest examples of how AI can help make meetings smarter. Participants can focus more on sharing ideas rather than making discussion notes. Transcript generated at the end of every meeting can later be searched for more details and keywords. This will ensure active participation from all the participants, uninterrupted discussion, and a free flow of ideas.

Intelligent capture of ‘Action Items’ to track and reflect on progress

As meetings are going to be more frequent, knowledge workers will have to jump from one meeting to another, giving them less time to remember all the action items and track them. This means a risk of missing an important deadline.

A more complex task than capturing meeting notes is that of identifying the action items, their owners, and their respective deadlines. Natural Language Programming (NLP), with extensive training on data, can be used to capture such action items. This can further be made more intelligent by sending reminders to the respective owners as deadline approaches. This will ensure that none of the necessary follow-ups and deadlines are missed.

Measure contributions from participants and analyze overall team sentiment

Meetings are fruitful when they are moderated based on participant reactions and their enthusiasm. This is easier in face-to-face meetings where facial expressions and body language can give several cues to drive the meeting in the right direction. However, this will be a challenge in remote meetings and can affect the overall contribution of team members.

A combination of audio & video processing and NLP can help capture and analyze cues such as facial expressions, nods, laughter, peak in audio, etc., which can help understand the overall sentiment of the team or individuals on the topic being discussed. This can also help measure the contribution of participants, such as the number of times they have spoken, ideas accepted or rejected by the team, etc. Such patterns can give valuable insights into team dynamics and nudge participants towards more positive contributions.

AI-driven ‘Meeting Assistant’ for mundane tasks and enhanced experience

Quite often, we see that meetings are dragged on endlessly, and significant time is spent on mundane tasks such as taking attendance, scheduling the next meetings, waiting for someone to open reports, etc.

An AI-driven “meeting assistant” that is also interactive and tends to the needs of the participants can bring a different experience into team meetings altogether. AI bots can be trained to understand “situational context,” which can help in the automatic set up of the future meetings based on the conversation, prompt a person involved in the discussion to unmute in case they are on mute, eliminate discussions on repeated topics that have already been discussed. A more advanced and intelligent meeting assistant can be created when we integrate these bots with the organization’s knowledge repository and databases. This will enable meeting assistants to show relevant reports, articles, data points, and remind the group of similar work being done within the organization based on the conversations.

As we move towards a new era of digital workforce, calendars of knowledge workers will be busier than ever. Meeting dynamics will change dramatically, and we will observe a significant increase in AI capabilities being incorporated into collaboration tools. Employees will have an enhanced meeting experience, increasing the usefulness of these meetings by manifold.

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Samyadeep Saha

Posted by Samyadeep Saha

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