State of business communication: How companies can tangibly harness AI to enhance communication, efficiency, and performance

by | Feb 22, 2024 | Public Relations

As the channels and opportunities expand, it seems business communication regresses. But new research from writing assistance tool Grammarly has pinpointed the tool out there that could help—and what else could it be but generative AI, the modern-day business cure-all. The firm’s new study reveals the potential of GAI to save a staggering $1.6 trillion in U.S. communication productivity each year, as well as how the tech brings both new solutions and challenges to the problem of poor communication that plagues U.S. businesses.

The firm’s third annual State of Business Communication: AI’s Potential to Turn Overload into Impact report, in partnership with The Harris Poll, looks at the new AI gaps and risks that pose serious threats to businesses, jeopardizing their ability to reap the benefits of the technology. The data shows that leaders and workers have been communicating more (78 percent) and in more channels (73 percent) this past year—but it’s causing more stress than ever, particularly among workers (+16 percent over last year). 

At the same time, both groups are seeing early benefits from using generative AI

These include saving a day a workweek—which adds up to around $16,455 per worker per year. But even though it’s helping, most workers still wish their companies were more open to implementing AI (58 percent) and don’t know how to use AI well (52 percent). 

“Companies not using generative AI for communication are already way behind, and those that are, are far from realizing its full potential,” said Matt Rosenberg, Grammarly chief revenue officer and head of Grammarly Business, in a news release. “The data is clear that generative AI offers monumental benefits, but can also add more distractions at a time when teams need ways to communicate better, not add more to the mix. Our report should be a wake-up call for businesses to stop with the piecemeal approaches, get aligned with their employees, and hone a clear strategy that empowers their entire workforce with AI if they are to realize its impact.”

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The study of U.S. business leaders and knowledge workers underscores the changing nature of workplace communication and the ways that generative AI is impacting how we work and interact.

Leaders, your communication problem is worse than you think

There’s a 24 percent gap between workers’ (63 percent) and leaders’ (87 percent) perceived effectiveness of their organization’s overall communication. Fewer workers this year also say their senior leadership communicates effectively (64 percent, down 8 percent)—compared to 90 percent of leaders who say the same. With leaders reporting that communication directly drives business outcomes like productivity (64 percent), customer satisfaction (51 percent), and brand reputation (45 percent), it’s time for a reality check to tackle the problem.

Focus on better, not more, to address communications overload

Most leaders and workers find constant work notifications challenging (56 percent), struggle to manage all of the communications they receive (54 percent), and spend too much time trying to get messages across in the right way (55 percent). Despite the AI deluge, more workers this year also wish they had better tools to help them be more effective (66 percent, vs. 58 percent last year). Facing an overwhelming surge of communication in more places, teams need ways to improve the quality of communication, not simply pile on more.

Chart a clear course to close AI gaps and move past the hype

Despite extensive generative AI use and promising early benefits, poor communication remains a pervasive problem, and leaders and workers are at odds with each other in their use of AI: 89 percent of leaders report using generative AI for professional purposes, but only 53 percent of workers say the same—a symptom of the lack of a cohesive AI approach. While 82 percent of leaders are planning investments in AI, those investments will go to waste if not paired with a company-wide AI strategy that focuses on literacy, education, and training.

The report includes more findings and insights on the state of workplace communication and the role of generative AI in reshaping it—including breakdowns by demographic, function (customer support, marketing/sales, HR), and more.

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Additional findings include:

  • Workers spend nearly half of their workweek on writing tasks (19.08 hours), and time spent reviewing and editing especially increased (+11 percent year-over-year)
  • 92 percent of leaders and 84 percent of workers who use generative AI do so at least weekly, and it’s already delivering business results for leaders like increased efficiency (52 percent), higher productivity (50 percent), saved costs (38 percent), and higher customer engagement (37 percent)
  • Workers using generative AI say that it makes them better at their job (77 percent) and has transformed how they communicate at work (71 percent), and that they ultimately believe AI will enhance their work, not replace them (66 percent)

Download the report here.

This study was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Grammarly from September 29, 2023, to October 3, 2023, among 1,002 knowledge workers and 253 business leaders. It also references findings from a similar study conducted from October 14 to 31, 2022, among 1,001 knowledge workers and 251 business leaders, as well as a prior study fielded from October 1 to 12, 2021, among 1,001 knowledge workers and 251 business leaders. This online survey is not based on a probability sample, and therefore, no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter