Using Artificial Intelligence as a Scheduling Tool
As businesses prepare to enter a new decade in the 2020s, many challenges and opportunities that presented themselves in the last decade can now be tackled head on. One of the most prominent technological advancements that continued to develop was the concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is said to be the ability of a computer program or a machine to think, learn and perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. To find out more, click here for a 101 second explanation of AI.
The reason AI has so much prominence in the media is due to the astonishing possibilities it has to change the world, from autonomous vehicles to facial recognition to deep learning, and beyond. Although the thought of AI can conjure up images of sci-fi dystopias and Terminator scenarios, it’s important for us to state that the purpose of AI is simply to improve the lives of people and businesses by automating tasks that would be laborious or impractical for humans to do. AI does so much for us already and is present whenever you’re using a computer or mobile device, calculating routes and offering recommendations on any number of platforms.
In the business world, AI is known for the profound potential it has to optimize business activities of all kinds, with many businesses already utilizing AI. In fact, 37% of organizations have implemented AI in some form, a 270% increase over the last four years (1). We’ve long known that the use of AI has enormous potential for workforce management, employee scheduling, and the software that enables these processes. In order to find out just how valuable AI can be when implemented in to the scheduling process, let’s look at the specific business problems that AI can address.
AI Produces Fair and Balanced Schedules Automatically
When using scheduling software with AI functionality, fair and balanced schedules are created automatically, every time. With AI, the utilization of predictive scheduling can significantly improve the scheduling process of any business. Using historical data, predictive scheduling automatically sets fair, balanced, bespoke schedules based on the historical data it has collected through machine learning. But what is machine learning?
Machine learning is the concept of algorithms and statistical models being used by computer systems to perform a specific task without using explicit instructions, relying on patterns and inference instead. Machine learning algorithms build a mathematical model based on data in order to make predictions or decisions without being explicitly programmed to perform the task. A relevant example would be that the AI will learn from a scheduler’s behavior patterns, analyze them, and reach an evidence-based conclusion, all in the blink of an eye.
The important aspect here is the utilization of data. With scheduling software, AI functionality has the ability to analyze the historical data that has been collected since the implementation of the software, and to then use this data to produce insights and efficiencies in the scheduling process. As humans, we don’t have the ability to collate massive amounts of data and make accurate, efficient decisions.
But machines do. The use of AI in the scheduling process can improve the quality of decision making, reduce the time needed to produce schedules, and ensure fair scheduling without having to pore through the data manually.
Artificial Intelligence Thrives On Complexity
Every business has its own rules, and as a result every schedule has its own complexities and intricacies. When it comes to setting schedules, there is a multitude of different factors in play. Employee experience, seniority, availability, certification, and hours worked are a handful of tricky items that play a role in effective scheduling.
Unsurprisingly, every business wants the number of overtime hours worked to be minimal, while still ensuring the best employees are working. AI can take these factors in to account while, importantly, following business rules and applicable laws.
Business owners want scheduling efficiencies, but they also want to make sure they can trust their software. AI ensures that pre-determined business rules are followed when a schedule is made. Not only does this enforce the rules, but the AI will learn from your decision making and optimize the schedule based on historical data. If one employee is picked for a certain shift every week, it might mean he or she is particularly strong in this area and AI has the ability to include this in the scheduling process.
AI Eliminates Scheduling Bias
Scheduling bias can occur in an organisation when a manager has a certain idea about how schedules should be made or perhaps who should be working on certain shifts or locations. With the implementation of AI, predictive analytics can functionally eliminate scheduling bias. Predictive analytics is the practice of extracting information from existing data sets in order to determine patterns and predict future outcomes and trends (2). This is particularly valuable as it allows businesses to look ahead, anticipating and predicting behaviors and outcomes based on concrete data, rather than intuition. In this way, AI allows organizations to become proactive, rather than reactive.
Artificial intelligence has huge potential and it’s already impacting the world in ways we may not even notice. For businesses looking to streamline their workforce management processes, the fear of change should be avoided when looking to the future, and scheduling software that utilizes AI should be used as a powerful workforce management tool in any environment.
Here at Celayix, we are the only workforce management solution that truly implements AI into the scheduling process. If you’d like to find out how we do this, our attentive support staff are always happy to answer any questions.
Alternatively, you can take a product tour below, where you’ll see some of the problems we solve for customers, and how the software actually works.