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Interview: Generative AI as a force multiplier for hybrid work

July 25, 2023
The Google Workspace Team

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Editorial note: Duet AI for Google Workspace is now Gemini for Google Workspace. Learn more. This post also appears in our LinkedIn newsletter AI@Work with Google Workspace.

To understand how generative AI will continue to shape the way work happens, we sat down with John MacDonald, Director, Productivity and Collaboration Practice for Google Workspace. In the interview below, you’ll learn John’s perspective on how Duet AI in Workspace will accelerate impact no matter where employees work, plus some actionable tips for getting started with AI. 

How will generative AI impact and reshape the way work gets done?

I see generative AI as a tipping point that will redefine entire industries and work styles. It won’t just accelerate work, it will also transform how work happens. It's about empowering people to work more efficiently, unleash creativity, and produce high-quality content. When we demonstrate the capabilities of Duet AI in Workspace with tools like Help me write and Help me visualize, people instantly come up with countless ways they can bring bold new ideas to life. Ultimately, generative AI is about creating more time for people so they can do what humans do best — innovate.

How can generative AI be most helpful to hybrid teams?

Generative AI tools like Duet AI are a force multiplier. They have the potential to harness collaboration, connection, and creation at new levels in a hybrid work environment. Sometimes the AI interaction might be seamless and largely invisible, like helping a distributed team better connect in meetings with enhanced video, sound, and lighting, so they feel like they’re sharing a more human and authentic experience. And other times the AI interaction will be a true collaboration, like working with a creative partner that can help you organize a project in Sheets or design images in Slides. As people work across more locations and time zones in the new world of work, technology that helps them achieve more together is crucial.

What challenges and concerns around generative AI are you hearing during sales calls with customers and prospects?

 People want to know how to implement and track the impact of generative AI. Within every organization, it's important to have in-depth discussions about how AI can help people achieve more and unlock human potential. The ROI will differ for each job function, but it’s grounded in efficiency and being able to kick-start projects and create space for innovation. It’s becoming clear that those organizations who understand, embrace, and leverage generative AI technologies will likely outperform their peers.

What are some concrete ways to get started with Duet AI? Which roles are a good fit for early adoption?

Marketing, sales, HR, and customer service are all good places to start with Duet AI. Any role that involves creating content, whether it’s for internal stakeholders or external customers, is also a great fit. In my world of sales, teams are already benefiting from using Duet AI in preparing for customer meetings and creating thoughtful, customized visuals in presentations or with email templates. It not only saves time; it can also enhance the overall quality and consistency of your communication. Another area is HR, where generative AI can create better responses to employees or even draft job descriptions for positions that don't exist yet. Generative AI can also make customer service more personal, which might surprise a lot of people. Maybe there’s a customer service department that uses generative AI to draft emails and voice scripts based on customer satisfaction data. They can take a data-driven approach that’s also aimed at making people happier. 

Could you share a recent example of how a customer is using generative AI in an innovative way?

We have a large sporting goods retailer that is using Duet AI to create original content at scale, whether it’s writing job descriptions, designing social media campaigns, or developing business plans. They recently used the “Help me write” feature in Google Docs to develop a business proposal for the launch of a new sports brand across all their retail locations. Based on the way Duet AI is improving their teams’ workflows, productivity, and creativity, they’re now looking at expanding its footprint across the entire organization.

If you could have AI take away one joyless task in your work day, what would it be? 

For me, the biggest one is around getting up to speed with multiple communication threads and new information. Chat can already summarize conversations so you can quickly get the gist of a thread, and you can generate automatic summaries in Docs when you need to quickly glean the main points of a longer document. I’m also using Duet AI to draft successful sales emails that are getting results with prospective customers. That’s a huge milestone, since so much of what a seller works on is customizing outreach. 

At the end of the day, AI-powered tasks should create more space in your day for higher-value work. When you multiply the time savings across an entire organization, the potential business value is tremendous.

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