metamorworks -

Walmart: Generative AI tool will assist workers, not replace them

Walmart said its new generative AI tool aims to free employees from repetitive tasks. Officials said that while AI boosts efficiency, it has limitations.

Walmart has deployed My Assistant, a generative AI tool for employees to help with generating content generation and summarizing large documents, acting as an overall "creative partner" for employees.

In detailing the new tool Wednesday, Walmart officials also tried to address broad concerns that AI tools like this will replace employees.

"There continues to be heightened debate about AI and automation, as well as its impact on the future of work," wrote Donna Morris, executive vice president and chief people officer, and Cheryl Ainoa, executive vice president of new business and emerging technologies, in a post on LinkedIn. "Here's our belief: it will take both people and technology to deliver on our purpose to help people save money and live better."

Generative AI "can help us work faster and more efficiently, but it also has limitations: it lacks judgment, has a limited understanding of context and is only as good as the data it's trained on," the executives wrote.

This technology will free employees "from monotonous, repetitive tasks, allowing more time and focus for improving the customer/member experience," according to the blog post.

Walmart may be ahead of some of the major HR vendors in releasing generative AI tools to help with employee productivity. Analysts and vendors see HR departments as significant users of the technology because their work substantially involves tasks where generative AI has seen successes, including communications, report writing and data analysis.

GenAI and productivity promises

"What Walmart is doing is intriguing because it's putting some of the highly personalized aspects of generative AI directly into the hands of the workforce," said Ben Eubanks, chief research officer at Lighthouse Research & Advisory.

What Walmart is doing is intriguing because it's putting some of the highly personalized aspects of generative AI directly into the hands of the workforce.
Ben EubanksChief research officer, Lighthouse Research & Advisory

To illustrate how generative AI tools can be helpful to employees, Eubanks imagined some of the prompts employees can enter, such as, "Explain my healthcare benefits in language a high school graduate can understand," or, "During orientation, who are three people who I should connect with?"

In a new report, the Boston Consulting Group believes generative AI could boost HR productivity by up to 30%. It said generative AI can accomplish this by "dramatically increasing self-service" as well as content creation, visualization and as much as half of onboarding tasks.

"Generative AI promises to lower the frictions and boundaries between humans and software in a way we haven't seen before," said J.P. Gownder, an analyst at Forrester Research.

Gownder sees generative AI as a powerful aid for customer-facing roles. "Navigating traditional mobile apps can be time-consuming and requires a learning curve," he said.

But a natural language generative AI interface can become a bridge to interact with backend systems such as inventory databases, making it easier for frontline workers "while also lowering the burden of training them to use multiple software systems," he said.

Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies for TechTarget Editorial. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.

Dig Deeper on Talent management

Business Analytics
Content Management
and ESG