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Via HR Technologist : How Does AI-powered Digital Workplace Change Employees’ Life?

When AI comes to the digital workplace, it is not to replace employees, but to make their daily work more productive, along with increasing their engagement, reducing manual effort, and speeding up time-consuming workflows. Good news is that the widely used collaboration solutions, such as SharePoint, can already bring all of these benefits to your enterprise.

Technology has been making our lives easier for centuries. But now, as we’re running head-on into the 4th Industrial Revolution, it’s obvious that even the pace of change is shifting. Just a few years ago, it would be hard to imagine the ubiquity that cutting-edge tech is enjoying today.

Machine learning and AI is everywhere. In the last four years, the AI adoption rate in the enterprise has grown by 270%, with roughly a third of companies deploying artificial intelligence.

The workplace is not an exception, as companies are continually rushing to make their employees more productive. Today, practically any enterprise-grade productivity or collaboration system boasts AI capabilities. One of the prime examples would be SharePoint Intranet with its built-in AI features enabled through the Microsoft ecosystem. By exploring these capabilities, you can understand how AI is impacting modern digital workspace.

AI Mantras for Boosting Employee Motivation and Productivity

Employee motivation is a great challenge for modern employers. Nowadays, almost 30% of employees don’t feel motivated at work, and one of the top 5 reasons for their dissatisfaction is poor business processes and technology. So, let’s take a look at a couple of examples where AI can help employees spend time more productively with SharePoint.

1) Don’t Read, Take Action

Using Microsoft’s Cognitive Text Analytics, SharePoint users can analyze, sort, and prioritize content based on its sentiment or other attributes. Such an approach to text analysis can have a number of applications, which could potentially save time and improve productivity:

  • social media feed analysis to detect and act upon negative sentiment
  • email text analysis for priority case identification (emails with the highest negative scores get into a separate SharePoint list for processing)
  • recruitment analytics for improved candidate processing

Each of these scenarios can provide a visible ROI for the teams that have previously handled similar processes manually, sometimes spending hours just sifting through emails and messages. With over 120 emails sent and received daily per business user in 2019, it’s critical to cut some of the time spent on processing them with AI.

2) A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Organizations that use SharePoint as part of Office 365 can optimize their employees’ load with image recognition.

By using integrated tools like CustomVision.ai, developers can train image recognition models practically on any image. Organizations can also use Flow, another Microsoft application, to automatically process Office 365 images with a custom model.

Potential applications of AI-enabled image recognition are numerous:

  • Insurance claim image processing allows claims managers to log data to specific SharePoint lists and libraries and make them searchable for specific image attributes.
  • Business cards can be automatically logged and added to predefined lists and libraries in SharePoint and become searchable.
  • Lists of tags can be used to recognize products in specific categories and with particular attributes, which eliminates the need for manual tagging at the SKU level.

It’s worth mentioning that intelligent image recognition improves the overall content searchability as files get automatically tagged, thus saving a lot of time on each search.

What’s more, Microsoft is taking it a step further with video analysis in SharePoint, which transcribes video and audio content, further improving employees’ efficiency. When your employees might be spending up to 20% of their time searching for internal information, the business impact of precise enterprise search is obvious. Less time spent on searching translates into more time on tackling important business problems.

3) Going Global

Localization is a messy business when you want to make your content available to international audiences. Luckily, there is another great feature in SharePoint that can tackle this problem.

Source: Microsoft

The Machine Translation API (part of the Microsoft Cognitive Services) allows organizations to instantly localize content for users all over the globe, thus breaking the language barrier in employees’ collaboration.

Some Bumps Ahead

It’s important to remember that the human factor still affects all smart technologies. Just remember the famous Amazon debacle with their biased candidate selection algorithm. Similar problems might surface in training images used for custom image recognition routines through SharePoint.

Another important aspect is how people in the company treat such technologies. Over 40% of employees are not confident about their ability to adapt to the digital workplace. That’s why it’s important to communicate the value of AI, as well as demonstrate the new horizons of their productivity with a renewed focus on creative work, not routines.

A completely autonomous workplace can also endanger team collaboration. Dan Schawbel, a New York Times bestselling author, mentions in his book titled “Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation” the isolation of a modern workplace, with technology being a double-edged sword that can bring improved productivity at the cost of human connection. This is true for intranets, like SharePoint, that are aimed at providing everything an employee needs, potentially significantly reducing human interactions. Business leaders have to take all of these factors into account when bringing in AI and automation into their workspace ecosystem.

Via CMS Wire : How to Approach Change Management in the Digital Workplace

At last year’s ReIimagineHR conference, Garnter estimated that the average organization has undergone five enterprise changes in the past three years. Seventy-three percent of organizations expect more change initiatives in the next few years, and only a small minority expects the pace of change to decelerate. Unfortunately, many organizations fail to implement change effectively. In fact, only a third of change efforts are a success, 16% show mixed results, and half are clear failures.

The rate of change is impressive. The conference also revealed that, on average, employees now experience three major changes each year, compared to just 1.75 in 2012. To help employees, many enterprises have turned to change management.

Change Management Enables Work

Change management plays an essential role in driving the individual behavioral changes required to realize the potential of the digital workplace. Change management in itself changes the legacy work mindset because it approaches the employee as a stakeholder in the process of transformation instead of merely a resource that is affected.

Effective change management programs seek to proactively engage employees in the process of transformation, according to David Verhaag, the founder of Olifano. It does this by creating awareness and a desire to change, empowering the employee with the knowledge and capabilities to effect the change and reinforcing the employee’s value in the process to ensure the change is enduring. This is a dramatic change from a legacy way of working where leaders would simply make changes and expect employees to adapt and adopt new processes and technology.

Bill Kirst, a senior manager of the operations excellence practice with West Monroe Partners, a consulting firm focused on organizational change management for technology-driven change, said by adopting a growth mindset and letting go of a fixed mindset teams will appreciate the role modeling done by IT leaders to seek and understand wider perspectives to bring about growth. Challenge the status quo by inviting ideas shared through innovation channels for continuous feedback and encourage creativity and experimentation. But how to begin? There are three main steps.

1. Digital Strategy

Organizations should start first by experimenting with defining your digital strategy and any approach to digital transformation partnerships in order to determine a criteria list. The asked-and-answered criteria will likely shift in importance depending on which step of the digital transformation process they are in.

2. Test-and-Learn

They should then focus on moving your culture toward one that celebrates “test-and-learn,” to allow for adaptation without turning operations into lab experiments.

3. Customer-centric Approach

Make sure to take a customer-centric approach to using technology and use digital transformation to solve true business problems, delivering actual outcomes and not just delivering a new technology. In practical terms, this means focusing on a few key projects. “In the business, pick a few key projects that align to your digital vision and pilot new capabilities, new technologies and new ways of working. Tap leaders and influencers (change agents) to demonstrate the power of achieving a digital growth mindset. Celebrate idea generation and experimentation that contributes to employee engagement and enterprise learning,” Kirst said.

Innovation Across Multiple Dimensions

It’s a good bet that most organizations leaders would agree that business model transformation demands innovation across multiple dimensions. Orchestrating the interplay of people, process and technology to continually bring new value to customers is an immense challenge, both strategically and operationally, said Camille Nicita, the CEO and president of consumer intelligence agency Gongos.

A core reason why customer-centricity has traditionally been difficult to systematize is because no single organizational functional area has had ownership of it. The recent rise of the chief customer officer is a significant step toward the cultural transformation required to orient corporate teams such as marketing, innovation, product development and operations around the customer. However, the larger and more established an organization is, the more it is weighted down by its legacy structure.

The results that these organizations embark on are fragmented approaches to understand and engage with their customers. It’s not surprising, then, that they engage partners in a similarly disjointed fashion.

Data analytics firms provide the expertise and bandwidth to address big data challenges. Consumer insights companies bring forth understanding and market knowledge. Management consulting firms address strategic and organizational design needs. Creative agencies support corporate and brand communications. Customer experience companies provide “voice of the customer” platforms for measuring the customer journey and experience. “At the end of the day, however, this scattershot approach hinders decision-making power, and takes a significant toll on organizations both financially and operationally,” she said.

The most effective intelligence business model brings the disciplines of data science, communication design, consumer insights and analytics, strategic consulting, customer experience, change management and innovation consulting under one roof. By weaving these often-isolated disciplines together, organizations can engage with one firm to consult, execute and drive organizational change to fuel growth and ultimately create a more reciprocal relationship with consumers.

The Evolving Digital Workplace

The digital workplace is constantly evolving and we’ve reached a point where the number of tools and resources for employees to get their jobs done is at an all-time high. On top of that, the number of remote and deskless workers continues to grow. As a result, organizations are faced with constant change. In fact, Brian McDowell of SocialChorus pointed out that change management teams are forced to spend a lot of time figuring out how to implement the “soft side” of organizational changes, going over the goals and objectives, strategy and tactics, and basic changes to roles and processes.

When approaching a major organizational change, however, it is crucial to have all employees and stakeholders on the same page. This comes down to having the right technology in place to effectively communicate what the change will be, why the change is necessary, and the impact both within and outside of the organization.

“Rather than keeping employees in the dark, leaders need to be transparent about why the change is essential and how it will affect employees’ roles and lives. This is even more critical in today’s digital workplace where how we work is constantly changing,” he said.

Via Global Banking & Finance : Times change, it’s time the workplace did too

Workplace culture is a hot topic and one that never fails to raise a reaction. In November 2018, tens of thousands of Google employees conducted a worldwide walkout targeting workplace culture less than a year after the internet giant topped Fortune magazine’s list of best companies to work for the sixth year running. The protestors’ main issue was how the company was treating women, but this wasn’t their only concern.

Following the protests, media reports cited Google saying it would increase transparency and improve its harassment policies, but it shouldn’t have taken a revolt of this scale for the issues to be acknowledged. Jose Mourinho, former manager of Manchester United, who was unceremoniously sacked in December, may have the answer to Google’s problems.

Speaking to the media in January, Mourinho, one of the most successful football managers of the last two decades, said: “Nowadays you have to be very smart in the way you read your players”. He then went on to compare current players with players from previous generations and spoke about the increased need to have the right structure in the club to support the players and the manager. Like football, employee demographics in the corporate world have changed significantly over the past decade. According to a recent study by Deloitte, 75 per cent of the global workforce will be millennials by 2025. And therein lies the problem. In the same way as Mourinho believed Manchester United was not reading its players correctly, neither, if recent events are taken into account, are many businesses.

The expectation of flexibility is neither misplaced nor impossible

In addition to having been born and grown up in an online age, there are several characteristics that differentiate millennials from previous generations. Whilst they consider themselves equally as hardworking and as ambitious, if not more so, than generation x and baby boomers, they also require more flexibility, faster results and care more about their personal well-being. According to a report in US news magazine INC., more than half of all millennial workers would like the option to work remotely, while up to 87 per cent want to work on their own schedules.

They also perceive themselves to be more socially aware and eco-friendly and expect these traits from their employers too. Luckily, with the significant improvements in technology over the past decade, this expectation is neither misplaced nor impossible to achieve, as long as employers are prepared to innovate.

Technological improvements make remote working an easy option

Take flexibility, eco-friendliness and well-being for example. With massive improvements in communication-related technology, it is now possible to work remotely without any loss of productivity. Providing flexible working options not only reduces real-estate costs and lowers the firm’s carbon footprint but can also help increase employee motivation.

So, if done correctly, one single action or statement, such as allowing employees to start work earlier or later, or to take longer lunch breaks to facilitate participation in sporting activities, can lead to a chain of events that significantly improves the attractiveness of an employer.

But, the reverse is also true. What if a telecommuting employee needs to come into the office for a face-to-face meeting and realises that he/she doesn’t have a desk to work from? The obvious impact is a decrease in efficiency. However, research shows that not knowing whether you have a desk space can also lead to lack of motivation and stress and can in turn, have a serious impact on an employee’s overall well-being. In addition, it can create an environment of unhealthy competition due to a lack of information, in this case, related to desk space and employee whereabouts. Unlike employees from previous generations, millennials don’t tend to feel the same connection to their company and as a result will not stay somewhere they are not happy.

It’s all about work-life balance

As a result, it may be worth managers considering the way in which a flexible work schedule provides a stronger sense of work-life balance – a quality that is reported to attract millennial employees to a workplace in droves and keep them happier for longer than the two-year stint that has become the norm.

Typically, desk space is the responsibility of real-estate management teams and doesn’t list as a top priority for senior operational managers. Desk allocations are usually managed on spreadsheets or similar static data-storage tools, which don’t allow for the constant monitoring required for effective desk-space allocation. Technology can again rectify this situation, with tools (such as HotDeskPlus, a new workplace optimisation tool and app powered by Brickendon Digital) that use mobile apps, sensors and QR codes to allow employees to view, reserve and check-in-and-out of specific desk spaces at a specific time.

Millennials may require more recognition and faster routes to promotion

Equally important is to foresee the problems that may arise as time evolves and millennials move through the ranks and take up senior positions. They may require more recognition and therefore faster routes to promotion. At the same time, incoming employees may prefer a more informal and non-hierarchical structure. This will require a shift in the organisational model and a willingness to embrace change in a way not seen before.

A quick look at the last couple of years reveals that many CEOs were either asked to leave their positions or forced to deal with discontented employees. These non-unionised breeds of relatively new organisations, such as Google, Microsoft and Uber, were expected to be torch bearers for the next generation of working practices, but their actions have largely been reactive. There is no doubt that what is thought to be an isolated incident can very quickly gain momentum and become a global phenomenon.

So, when it comes to millennials, you may want to count (and listen to) your chickens before they tweet, otherwise they may leave your roost sooner than you expect.

Via The Ladder : Office of the future: 4 amazing ways technology will change your workplace

Not everyone will go the remote route. Those still working from an office will enjoy a multitude of benefits that technology brings with it.

It’s no secret – the way we work is changing. Younger generations are entering the workforce and new technologies influence our processes and decisions at work.

With email, the internet and cloud computing changing the office of the past, what will be the major changes in the office of the future?

Let’s find out.

The office of the future will not be an actual office

If you haven’t heard the news – remote work is here to stay. According to research, 43% of all employees in the USA work remotely in some shape or form. One part of the reason for this increase is that it makes sense for the employers: they pay less for office rent, utilities, and the internet – and employees are more productive.

The bigger reason why working remotely is spreading is that employees love it. In fact, 99% of all surveyed remote employees state they want to work remotely by the end of their careers. Therefore, the office of the future will most likely be your workroom, living room, coffee shop, co-working space or your preferred work location.

The office will be more sustainable than ever

Don’t worry, not everyone will go the remote route and run to their homes. Those still working from an office will enjoy a multitude of benefits that technology brings with it. One of them is eco-friendliness and increased sustainability.

Some of the perks in the office of the future include solar panels galore, energy efficient LED lighting, smartphone operated climate and lighting control, carbon dioxide measurement and rainwater harvesting systems. The best of all is that many of these elements are already in use today. One thing is for certain – the office of the future will be much greener and friendlier towards Mother Nature.

The way we communicate will change

The workplace of the future will mostly be filled by Generation Y or Millennials. They (myself included) do a lot of things differently, including communication. As reports state, today’s methods of communicating at work have many faults: there are no standards, personal and business communication is mixed up, there are communication barriers and many more problems.

In the office of the future, we’ll communicate using team communication apps such as Chanty, which will solve the majority of these issues. Having apps besides (and not instead of) communicating in person will make way for standardized communication, separate the channels for personal and work chatter, remove most communication barriers and enable teams to stay on track using integrations with project management apps. Plus, it will make it easier to stay in touch with your growing remote team.

Besides text, the communication apps of the future will need to have a range of other features to support the needs of the Millennial generation. This includes audio and video calls, screen sharing options, tons of integrations, support for GIFs and much more.

Collaboration will become real-time

Working in the cloud is no longer a novelty. I can enjoy working on the same Google Doc or sheet with someone on a different continent and in another time zone. Storage solutions such as Dropbox and Drive are becoming so common that hardly anyone stores their files locally anymore.

The office of the future will go even beyond, allowing employees to collaborate in complex programs such as those for 3D design, modeling, and architecture. Not only will they be able to do this using their laptops, but also using virtual and augmented reality. Imagine collaborating on a 3D design of a building using glasses – it’s no longer science fiction.


As you can see, the changes in the future workplace will not be as drastic as science fiction movies may predict. As more employees shift to a remote lifestyle, communication will depend heavily on team communication apps. Those who stay in the office environment will enjoy a greener and more sustainable work environment.

Via The Seattle Times : When leadership and management work together, change happens

Understanding why we make decisions, who they impact and the effects on ourselves and others are all facets of leadership.

Is leadership different from management? Decades ago, these terms were interchangeable, but not so anymore. They do often share similar skill sets, says Dr. Joel Domingo, associate professor and academic program director of the Doctor of Education in Leadership program at City University of Seattle.

“Both leadership and management involve influence, people and goals,” Domingo says. “While the old adage, ‘you manage tasks but lead people’ still rings true, there are nuanced differences.”

To clarify the distinctions, Domingo suggests you think about your role when making an important decision that may benefit your organization. Those processes of working with the information you have, and decision-making are management skills. At the same time, those skills don’t exist in a vacuum and organizations are made up of people. Understanding why we make decisions, who they impact and the effects on ourselves and others are all facets of leadership.

“Too often we see that people who call themselves leaders often feel like leadership is a place you get when you are promoted out of management,” says Dr. Pressley Rankin IV, academic program director and associate professor at CityU’s School of Applied Leadership. “Leaders can’t plan for the future if they don’t understand what is happening today. They have to be able to see what the organization is doing and how they are doing it in order to help them plan for change.”

Three types of leadership skills

Trying out different facial expressions when listening thoughtfully, making eye contact to enhance authority, or rehearsing the right body language to go with a speech are all things a budding leader might practice in the mirror. But authentic leadership goes deeper and it tends to be expressed in three key dimensions – intrapersonal, interpersonal and developmental.

Honing intrapersonal, interpersonal and developmental skills is important to developing what is known as authentic leadership, Domingo says. “People long for leaders who demonstrate honesty, dependability, compassion and relatability.”

According to Domingo, the intrapersonal dimension of authentic leadership helps answers questions like, “Who am I as a leader, and do I have purpose?” The interpersonal side examines how a person interacts with others and connects with people in general. Some good questions to ask which address the interpersonal side are, “How do people respond to my leadership, and is there a sense of camaraderie and/or respect present?” Developmental questions are simply, “How can I grow through some of my deficiencies or even, can I admit that I need to learn more?”

Drilling down further, City University’s new Master of Science in Management and Leadership, which launched this fall, lets students choose from three focuses: change leadership, human resource management and nonprofit leadership. Each focus area teaches how to effectively make the best decisions, create high-performing teams, develop assured self-management, lead the execution of strategic plans and stand out when the time for a promotion comes.

“Management focuses on the process and leadership focuses on people,” says Domingo. “We wanted to incorporate both management and leadership into the degree as the two are historically seen as complementary to each other.”

Exploring the different facets of leadership to find the right fit for your own aptitudes and goals can lead to powerful impacts and results. Leadership touches all levels of society. Domingo says he sees students in business, government and even the military exploring many valuable topics including change in the school system, inequity in schools and diversity.

Dr. Heather Henderson examined the gender disparities in women superintendents when working on her dissertation in City University of Seattle’s leadership program. Now she’s leveraged the leadership ability she learned and acquired there to become a group leader in the International Leadership Association, the largest association in the world committed to leadership scholarship, development and practice.

Dr. Mary Bethune, another student who completed the same program, took on the topic of generational change in the workplace. With massive numbers of people retiring, how can their knowledge be saved and used in the future? She’s become a change leader in finding ways to preserve that wisdom.

“It is important to know that anyone can be a leader,” Rankin says. “You don’t need a formal title to lead. Martin Luther King and Gandhi are examples of leaders who accomplished great things with no official leadership title. We call this informal leadership and it is something anyone can practice and learn.”