Bridging the AI Age Gap with Seismic's Paige O'Neill

AI Magazine spoke to Paige O'Neill, CMO at Seismic to see if 'enablement software' is the answer to the older generation's resistance to using AI at work

AI is on the march, and rapidly transforming industries across the globe as companies seek to optimise their operations and gain a competitive edge. From healthcare to finance, manufacturing to retail, AI is being leveraged to streamline processes, enhance decision-making, and drive innovation.

Like most disruptive technologies, however, the older generation stands to be left behind. A recent Seismic study shows 61% of businesses in the UK are facing pushback from employees when it comes to adopting new technologies. The resistance to change and the fear of being replaced by AI can hinder organisations from fully embracing the potential of this transformative technology.

But is it possible to change the narrative so naysayers can be brought along on the AI ride? AI Magazine spoke to Paige O'Neill, CMO at Seismic to see if 'enablement software' is the answer. 

Paige O'Neill bio
  • Paige O'Neill is Chief Marketing Officer at Seismic, a AI-powered enablement, training, and coaching solution enables sales and marketing teams to engage clients

What is the current state of AI adoption in the UK?

Our recent study shows that 61% of businesses in the UK are facing pushback from employees when it comes to adopting new technologies. The research shows that one of the primary hurdles is adapting to different generational needs and attitudes. 

To succeed, companies must find a way to bridge that gap and foster a technologically empowered mindset – especially towards AI-powered tools – within the workforce. For example, with the adoption of AI-fuelled enablement software, businesses need to find ways to overcome generational differences in the workplace and drive AI usage and technology adoption at the same time.

What is enablement software?

Enablement software is typically defined as the capabilities that empower customer-facing teams, such as sales, marketing, and customer service, to engage clients and close deals. 

Modern enablement software now also uses AI to take this a step further. This evolves it from a content management tool into a virtual assistant that automates tasks, provides intelligent guidance and recommendations, generates content, provides training and coaching, and delivers advanced analytics. In turn, it makes customer-facing teams more effective and efficient.

It can do this for sales teams by consolidating all content, training materials, and buyer engagement tools in one central location. This allows sales reps to access and customise content for each buyer quickly and providing data-driven insights on the performance of content and messaging.

For marketers, enablement software can support everything from content production to distribution and governance, ensuring sales teams have access to relevant, approved content. 

For customer service, it helps onboard and train agents faster, provides continuous learning, and correlates agent skill development with customer satisfaction metrics. 

It’s also seeing increasingly diverse use throughout organisations, with 97% of companies using it across multiple departments.

How widely are you seeing businesses experiencing challenges with the adoption of this kind of technology? 

As with almost all technology rollouts in a business, there’s often resistance. Half of the respondents in our survey said their organisation struggled with technology adoption. Respondents reported several known reasons adoption was a challenge for their company, including lack of integration with internal workflows, lack of budget to support full adoption, and lack of proper training and resources to implement enablement tech fully.

However, it also revealed something else: 43% of organisations grappled with uneven adoption across departments. The reasons behind the adoption disparity included varying levels of technological readiness (56%), resistance to change (48%), and a lack of awareness about the full potential of enablement technology (47%).

How much is resistance related to factors such as age?

Older generations were generally more resistant to new technology, except when it came to AI. Perhaps surprisingly, Gen Z was by far the least enthusiastic about the prospect of AI at work.

This trend might be because Gen Z has less confidence in AI as the ‘next big thing’, or because the generation views AI as more of a threat to their jobs than their older counterparts who are more experienced with significant changes and technological revolutions. In any case, the research shows that each generation has different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to technology adoption and use. 

How can business leaders ensure buy-in from all generations?

Technology, regardless of whether it uses AI, is only as good as its adoption. Successfully implementing new technologies necessitates a tailored approach to supporting the diverse needs of different generations in the workforce.

To overcome these generational differences, companies must use a human-centric, skill-based approach. That means custom training programmes to ensure buy-in from all age groups across the organisation.

89% of respondents agree that providing a variety of learning and training experiences encourages different generations to adapt technology seamlessly and confidently. Additionally, it’s essential to enable tools beyond launch as people learn and adapt to technology in various ways and at different times. As such, it’s likely that we’ll have a future where the most successful providers value customer success over product sales.

What does the future of enablement look like?

Maximising success with any new digital tools – especially if they’re empowered by AI – comes down to understanding adoption barriers and bridging the gap between generations with personalised training. It’s about ensuring that everyone understands how to use their new tool, what it can do, and how those capabilities can play to their individual strengths and help with their weaknesses. Crucially, implementation needs to be treated as an ongoing process, not a one-and-done project.

Those who succeed will have created a workforce defined not by their age groups but by their commitment to insights and practices that drive strategic change, a digital-native approach to learning, and the adoption of AI as a virtual partner that revolutionises productivity. In the enablement industry, we call that workforce Generation E.

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