A Primer for Knowledge Work Automation

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) applications like ChatGPT are dominating the news, and knowledge workers—professionals who use information, creativity, and critical thinking skills—are paying close attention.

Knowledge work categories include creatives (writers and artists), intellectuals (professors and economists), and experts (architects and computer engineers). Anyone interested in generative AI can try to predict the impact of this new technology. AI and automation have the power to reshape the future of work through knowledge work automation (KWA).

AI and automation

Knowledge work automation uses various technologies to empower knowledge workers to optimize their core skills. KWA speeds up tasks like document management, content management, workflow management, and security and compliance. KWA powers new best practices and automation, letting knowledge workers generate more value for their employers.

The average knowledge worker spends 40 percent of their day on tasks that do not require their core skills. Over a billion people worldwide spend almost four hours a day drafting emails, organizing documents, and checking regulatory compliance rules. These business processes don't maximize a knowledge worker's time. Knowledge work automation assists with these chores, and more, allowing knowledge workers to focus on important and more stimulating activities.

What does knowledge work automation do?

People often misunderstand the main use of AI in knowledge work and automation. First, different types of structured tasks can be automated without AI. Second, AI can help with less structured and creative tasks like creating art, writing code, and designing buildings in tight collaboration with people. Finally, the combination of AI and automation helps reduce the number of tasks that humans don't need to do.

Here are four vital tasks that knowledge work automation can take off a professional’s plate:

  • Document management: Capturing, tracking, and storing electronic documents—PDFs, word processing files, schematics, and legal documents. Such tools are faster and more efficient than manual data entry. Document management software can track metadata, handle data integration and data validation, organize storage, and more without requiring time-consuming input from knowledge workers.
  • Content management: Collecting, retrieving, delivering, and governing institutional information in any format. Content management handles every phase of the document lifecycle from creation to storage or deletion. Document management, meanwhile, focuses on storing and sharing documents internally within an organization.
  • Workflow management: Identifying, organizing, and coordinating a given set of tasks to produce assets. Workflow management optimizes a company's best practices and operating procedures to increase productivity, remove repetitive tasks, and eliminate errors. New projects require knowledge workers to develop their own best practices and workflows. Doing so through trial-and-error is inefficient and unrewarding.
  • Security and compliance: All companies face security risks and must follow several sets of regulations and compliance standards. Maintaining regulatory compliance and data security can be a full-time job for a trained expert. Knowledge workers are often undertrained for compliance and security tasks. Such assignments waste time better spent on actual knowledge work.

The future of knowledge work

Knowledge work automation leverages artificial intelligence, machine learning, and large language models, automating everything that's not true knowledge work. AI eliminates information chaos, captures institutional knowledge, and analyzes existing documentation, creating and finalizing documents, emails, standardized forms, and more.

KWA gives knowledge workers document summaries in any language and generates content based on unstructured samples or prompts. KWA automates workflows that facilitate best practices. An industry-leading knowledge work automation platform creates an employee experience that attracts and stimulates skilled professionals, and eliminates nearly four hours of less interesting and low-value work per day.

FAQ: What you need to know about automation

What is the difference between an office automation system and a knowledge work automation system?

As its name implies, office automation helps to efficiently run an office. It supports data workers and project managers and enables video conferencing. Knowledge work automation empowers knowledge users to work more effectively and leverage knowledge of their organization. KWA fills knowledge gaps, guides knowledge intensive workflows, and ensures knowledge access for all team members.

Why should we use knowledge work automation?

KWA is the future of work and the future of automation. Automation tools help thought workers perform at higher levels and improve productivity by automating workflows. The long-term benefits of knowledge automation will strengthen efficiency in any work environment. KWA is already reducing human error and saving time for any business operation.

Why is the automation of knowledge work so disruptive?

Any kind of work automation is disruptive and knowledge work automation is no exception. KWA uses advances in computer science and information technology to build and make large-scale changes to thought work. A thought worker uses automation software to handle non-essential tasks and reduce costs on any product or service.

Discover more information about knowledge work automation.