When I started my administrative support career oh so many moons ago, the only “tech” we had was email, the first renditions of "smart phones," and basic spreadsheets used mostly for list making.
Since then, the landscape has changed so swiftly that we are left with only two options: attempt to keep up as the world progresses or lead the charge in the spirit of innovation.
Technology in the workplace, specifically within administrative support, touches every aspect of our job and influences strategy, decision-making, and outcomes. For example, we use tech now to alleviate scheduling conflicts, conduct audits, forecast sales, and develop production planning. We also use tech in a class all its own – Artificial Intelligence. Yes, the boogeyman of the future, also known as AI.
Look, I get it. The wild stories shown on the big screen have painted a certain picture, if you will, about AI and the robots who will eventually take over the earth. But AI has started to take over already, with its vast influence reaching you often without you ever knowing it’s there. From chatbots to voice assistants to self-driving cars, AI exists in nearly all facets of our daily lives. But how do we use it in our evolving workplace?
AI, in some basic forms, ranges from predictive text to productivity reporting, recruitment efforts, and document management. You may already be using AI in your workplace and don’t know it.
Making it COUNT
Leveraging technology can help you or your company become more efficient and accurate and produce better outcomes. Think about it this way: AI could make you BETTER at your job, not take it away.
Remember, while it may help alleviate some of your daily administrative tasks (i.e., faster, better, more) AI currently cannot replace what we as humans are uniquely capable of – empathy, exercising moral judgment, and collaborating with and coaching others.
Moving Beyond the Status Quo
Whatever your title may be, your role as an Administrative Support Professional isn’t about getting someone’s coffee. We are so much more than the secretaries of yore.
When your workplace decides to implement an AI solution, see it as an opportunity. We all know that carving out a strategic role for yourself within this field is difficult as it stands. However, developing a deeper understanding of the problem at hand can place you in a unique position to be the advocate and the champion for change and solutions – even if you are not an expert in tech (or AI for that matter).
First, identify the issue and the risk. Specifically, if we don’t fix xyz then the risk is abc. The risk of NOT doing something is usually greater and has a significant financial impact – and not a positive one. If you find just one issue that affects your business unit or your role, resist hesitation and speak up!
Second, understand the wants vs. the needs. Do we want the newest and shiniest products? Sure. But you wouldn’t pick a Porsche to haul a ton of rock – you’d choose the heavy-duty truck because that is the better tool to solve the problem or address the need. You want the Porsche, but you need the truck.
There remains a massive human-powered “lift” that is required to implement an AI solution. Like any new tool, AI won’t magically appear and “know” what to do. That’s a part of its unique characteristics – you teach it how to interpret your data, what to do with it and, just as important, what NOT to do.
Finally, level up. This is no time to dig your heels in. Software implementations are usually clunky at first as organizations struggle to manage change. Be open to the change and the opportunities it provides. Align yourself with the concept of continual improvement to become part of the solution. Accomplishing this will require you to set yourself apart from the naysayers and Debbie-downers by playing an active role in the research, planning, testing, and implementation phases of a new tech or AI tool.
About the Author
Lacey Chiddix-Rosales is an Administrative Professional with over 20 years of experience supporting C-level executives in the non-profit, biotech, healthcare, and agriculture industries. She is currently the Legal Operations Manager at Fall Creek Farm and Nursery – the world’s largest blueberry plant stock provider– and manages an international team of attorneys and support staff.
Lacey’s experience in data migration and software implementations over the years has led her to become SME in the workplace and a champion of process improvement. She enjoys sharing her knowledge within administrative support and learning more each day. Lacey lives in Oregon with her husband and blended family, three cats, and two dogs.
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