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Most people feel pressured to be productive rather than creative at work, but imaginative thinking can improve efficiency, solve difficult problems, and grow profits. So, how can businesses introduce more creative thinking into their employees’ daily work lives?

Artificial intelligence is going to be one of the main resources helping businesses improve creative thinking in the workplace. AI is quickly becoming indispensable for all types of businesses and can be used to enhance business innovation now and in the not-so-distance future.

AI will reshape talent and recruitment

Instead of hiring the most qualified person for a certain task, many companies are now putting greater weight on cultural fit and malleability. We’ll start to hire individuals based more on their natural talent and creativity because, in the future, administrative and task-orientated job elements will be undertaken by AI.

HR’s role will begin to shift away from traditional assessment and recruiting. Take, for example, the time-intensive process of hiring new employees. A San Francisco-based startup, Mya Systems, is developing an AI recruiter to rate resumes, schedule interviews, and speak to applicants. Such developments mean HR advisors will have more time to focus on driving other workplace policies and improvements because they’re not spending their time on boilerplate tasks.

It will test and develop creative thinking

According to Rob High, vice president and chief technology officer at IBM Watson, AI doesn’t exist to recreate the human mind. It should be used to interact with humans to improve their creative process and should be helping teams come up with new ideas on a much more regular basis.

This is where businesses have a huge opportunity. For example, Netflix has been successful in using AI to make sense of consumer data, to the extent it knows which shows and casts will become hits before they’ve even been filmed. Machine learning will give us more freedom to test out innovative ideas and accelerate prototypes, solving the scalability problem, which has blocked truly personalized services for years.

We’ll have more confidence to suggest and test ideas that aren’t necessarily fail-proof, because AI will be able to give some indication as to whether these concepts will thrive.

We’ll have personalized, 3D insight

One big issue is a lot of data isn’t smart. Often, it doesn’t recognize the human element — lifestyle attitudes and sentiment, for example — from its results and takes a lot of analysis and even guesswork to come up with insights that will enhance a creative business strategy.

It’s the growth of new interfaces and communications such as one-to-one messaging, voice-enabled amenities, and interactive channels like WeChat, Line, and Slack that will result in a new rise of “smart data.” This will enable businesses to comprehend people on a whole new level.

One brand starting to bridge the gap between human and machine learning is Spotify, which marries user habits such as playlist creations with crowd-sourced behaviors to create personalized playlist suggestions.

Such examples demonstrate how AI can classify interactions from consumers, giving businesses platforms a truer concept of what a person is saying so they can react accordingly. It’s a way to better understand and anticipate your customers and their wants and needs.

It’ll speed up the creative process

While serving as inspiration is one role AI can play in the creative process, it can also help with more mundane tasks because machines can learn more quickly than humans.

Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, says AI isn’t about eliminating jobs, but eliminating “tasks of jobs” and creating new roles more suited to humans that require traits robots haven’t yet grasped, such as empathy, communication, and interdisciplinary problem-solving.

Businesses should consider how AI can take over menial, data-heavy workplace chores. This will free up employees’ emergent individual qualities, which push us to access the more complex parts of our brains. That’s why the emergence of machine learning is so appealing. Computers free us up to concentrate on more creative tasks that can make a real difference. It gives people time to think instead of just doing.

It will dissolve limits to global communication

Earlier this year, Facebook announced that the company’s artificial intelligence research team had completed a yearlong project aimed at boosting language translation efficiency. This technique is apparently about nine times more efficient than current systems.

This project is still in its early stages, but it may not be long until AI is being used to increase interconnectivity across many international businesses. Without language barriers and mistranslations slowing down communications, we’ll be able to share creative ideas more widely and develop these on a much faster global scale.

Machines aren’t about to take over the world and lead the creative sphere, but it’s clear AI could become the supreme creative business tool that allows space for innovative thinking — helping to shape richer experiences with lasting value.

Tim Sox is the director of innovation at Colonial Life, an insurance company.

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