AI in the Workplace – 8 Ways to Save Time

May 23, 2019
Thino Ullmann

Author

Thino Ullmann

Go to Market Manager Central Europe at SoftwareONE | Linkedin

Microsoft Azure provides the Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Microsoft Office. It is intended to enable the direct and even predictive use of data – therefore freeing up more time for your important tasks in day-to-day business. But how does it work?

Artificial Intelligence at the office?

Modern digital assistants are built around Artificial Intelligence, or AI for short. We know them from our home life, where we ask Alexa for the weather, Siri for recipes, dictate to-do lists into Google Home and ask Waze to get us through log-jammed traffic.

But has Artificial Intelligence reached our office life as well?

Work routines in 2019 – far removed from the reign of the robots

First off, one thing is certain, so far – Artificial Intelligence will not replace us any time soon.

Instead, Artificial Intelligence at the office will exist in symbiotic relationship with us, the human counterparts. The machine will take routine tasks off our hands, allowing us to concentrate on more complex and demanding tasks.

Below we give seven ideas that represent the smart way of using Office 365 AI. The aim is to boost the productivity of all employees, and by leveraging these seven ideas, you can introduce exponentially more efficiency to your workday.

Example #1 – Scheduling appointments

Anyone who regularly makes appointments is familiar with the same problem, you send out several suggestions for a date in the hope that at least one of them will be convenient for the person you want to meet. Unfortunately, though, this is rarely the case. So the search for a suitable date continues, with emails clogging your inbox on both sides.

You can avoid this effort by using Artificial Intelligence by Microsoft Office 365. All you need is an Office account and the free plug-in FindTime for Outlook.

Below is an example of how easy it is to schedule appointments with AI:

  • As usual, you start by suggesting a few dates.
  • Everyone who receives an email can centrally see which dates would suit the other participants in the meeting (such as with a vote).
  • Each participant submits their preference.

The identified date is then sent automatically to each participant as the official appointment.

Watch this video to see how it works.

Your potential savings: Up to five minutes per meeting, depending on the number of participants, and it helps to ensure less friction among the people invited.

Example #2 – Using images to generate tables

Tables are not always available in a digital form that would enable their continued use. Examples include books, handouts or leaflets. Thus far there are only two options if you wanted to use them elsewhere:

1. Take a photo as a template.
2. Laboriously type up the data table.

Office 365 AI has an answer for this predicament: The Excel Optical Character Recognition Feature.

This tool for mobile devices enables the transfer of analog tables into the digital realm. Just take a photo – and Excel will automatically create an editable, virtual table.

Please note, glitches have continued to occur when dealing with bigger tables, and the feature is currently available for Android only, although iOS support is bound to follow soon.


Source: Microsoft

Your potential savings: Ten minutes per table.

Example #3 – Easier virtualization of tables

Tables written exclusively in Excel are often incomprehensible at first glance. Office 365 AI with Excel Ideas analyzes your data and provides suggestions for virtualization in a separate task area. This virtual data summary gives you a neat and tidy overview of all trends and patterns contained in the data.

In a nutshell, the important aspects of the data that previously required complex, laborious analysis and visualization now appears immediately as attractive highlights.

The following analysis options are currently available:

  • Rank: Shows and highlights the element that is significantly bigger than the other elements.
  • Trend: Highlights a constant trend pattern across a time series of data.
  • Outliers: Highlights outliers in time series’.
  • Majority: Finds cases in which a majority of a total value can be attributed to one particular factor.

Your potential savings: Ten minutes per table.

Example #4 – Translating content

The various translator applications still need to brush up on their language skills, unfortunately, however Artificial Intelligence can help you with the time-consuming task of entering the text you need translated into the input field, putting an end to the annoying copy & pasting.

Example #5 – Translating emails

The Translator Outlook add-in is a single click to translate the content of emails. This is regardless of the language, the device with which you are using Outlook on, and how you receive the email. The tool is compatible with Outlook 2013 and higher, as well as with iOS, Android and Outlook Web.

You potential savings: 3–5 minutes per mail, depending on the amount of text.

Example #6 – Translating PowerPoint texts

This works in a similar fashion as  the mail tool, but this time it is directed at  presentations. The Office 365 AI Presentation Translator for PowerPoint tool puts the texts into your preferred language. We’ve provided a recent review on this feature from Microsoft.

Your potential savings: >10 minutes per presentation, depending on the amount.

Example #7 – Simultaneous translation during a PowerPoint presentation

PowerPoint presentations can only be held in one language, but what happens if the participants do not speak that particular language or have a limited proficiency? This problem is otherwise solved using expensive simultaneous interpreting, but it is rarely used in companies, precisely because of the cost.

Office 365 AI Presentation Translator for PowerPoint Tool finds a way out of this predicament using live subtitles. The presenter merely needs to hold the presentation in one of 11 languages (Arabic, Chinese, Mandarin, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish), which is then translated into more than 60+ languages by means of live subtitles. However, to make sure we understand each other, place your presentation in your native language  – and at the same time a subtitle appears on the screen in whichever language you choose.  If you find it hard to believe, check this video out. 

Your potential savings: Difficult to say, but  the satisfaction of the meeting participants will be priceless.

Example #8 – Translating messages in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams enables international collaboration within working groups. With this feature you will be able to accomplish the translation without the frustration of copy & paste if you want to understand messages in Teams, but do not speak the language well or at all.

Office 365 AI in Microsoft Teams as a translator feature provides one-click online translations of 36 languages.

Source: Microsoft

Your potential savings: 2 minutes, depending on the length of the text.

Saving time with Artificial Intelligence

Let’s assume you use each feature once a day. If so, your potential savings with Microsoft Office 365 AI are a sizeable 40 minutes – every day! That amounts to around 153 hours per year or 19 full working days that you can then have back in your life or your work.

This list concentrated on simple and quick ways to simplify your working life. These days, though, Artificial Intelligence has the potential for much more. and is working to revolutionize entire companies. This might be daunting for some people, so it is best to start with smaller steps to learn how to use and manage AI.

Do you want to learn more about the potential that AI offers for your business?

Get in touch with our experts. Let’s discuss this together.

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