How Smart Solutions at Work Will Increase Productivity
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2017 has been a very interesting year for the world of HR Tech. AI (Artificial Intelligence), chatbots and ML (Machine Learning) has become part of the standard lexicon. Every technology company in this space is integrating one or more aspects of this new wave into their offerings and if they are not they will have to. It is a juggernaut gobbling up everything in its path and no part of current offerings will be left totally untouched.
However, it is the start of the year, so we do not talk about juggernauts and tsunamis (yet). Let me gaze into my personal crystal ball and try to predict some of the trends for the coming year.
Trend 1: Analytics will get faster, smarter and fuzzier:
If that sounds like a contradiction let me assure you it is not. Fuzzy doesn't mean vague - it means getting into areas that were previously impervious to cold hard number crunching. In 2018, technology platforms will work on tracking emotions and real-time mood among the workforce and use it to improve engagement.
With the rise in computing speed, improved algorithms, cloud computing and other allied developments, platforms are able to track and analyze much more. Moreover, with intelligent connectors, platforms that were previously operating in silos now talk to each other more than ever before. So real-time measurement of employee mood can now be tracked and looped back into task management software. When red flags of stress, overwork are raised, managers can be notified and corrective action initiated.
Trend 2: Automation Will Focus on Engagement and Productivity
In the last couple of years, there already has been an almost imperceptible shift towards aligning efforts to ensure the automation blends seamlessly into daily work routines. The focus is now to improve productivity and consequently, engagement, through intelligent automation. What this implies is architecting automation solutions in a way that they make life easier and blend into the overall process - not just be a standalone activity.
Aspects like performance management, rewards, recognition, time and effort tracking are all ripe to be transformed through intelligent automation.
In 2018, this trend will gather momentum powered by the rise and easier access to AI and ML solutions and platforms.
Trend 3: Smart Workplaces Will Continue the Push to Become Mainstream
'Smart' is a term that has been much abused - especially in the context of technology at the workplace. But these are interesting times! The Dell and Intel Future Workforce Study 2016, found that nearly 45% of workers surveyed in the APAC and Japan, expected to be working in a smart office with IoT and other technologies being standard.
Health trackers such as Fitbit, Apple Watch are already here. Enterprise messaging is going through a massive overhaul with platforms such as Workplace (by Facebook) and Slack being increasingly picked over the typical business email and communication solutions. Real-time pulse surveys, Instant recognition, Instant rewards are all already mainstream today. Companies are hard at work integrating data from all of these sources and newer smarter technologies are coming up all the time.
In 2018, the trend to shift to 'smarter' ways of working will increase driven bottom up by the generational shift in the workforce rather than necessarily top-down.
Trend 4: Analytics will Leverage Public Social Media Signals in Advanced Ways
In this time and age of brutal competition for top talent, companies have been using social media to establish the company brand and recruit. In 2018, that trend will strengthen to leverage technology that lets companies parse and analyze social media signals at scale. It is now possible to parse and carry out advanced sentiment analysis on a person's social media footprint to determine fitment of the candidate to the role, company culture, value systems and other dimensions.
Companies can learn quite a bit about the candidate - their professional experience, work ethics, and interests even before he/she does the first round of interview. AI driven platforms will gain increased acceptance as filtering mechanisms, especially in large companies, to scan through thousands of resumes and social profiles in the search for the right fit.
Trend 5: Chatbots and AI will Make Inroads into Employee Support Functions:
The explosion of cloud computing resulted in companies purchasing a plethora of systems to best meet each aspect of their requirement. The Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey estimates that large companies have on average 7 HR systems of record (this has increased from an average of 4.5 systems last year).
2018 will see wide adoption of chatbots to solve the problem of data fragmentation and retrieval across disparate systems above all else. Coupled with the wider adoption of Enterprise Messaging platforms and ease of installation and customization, chatbots will become the new UI at the workplace. They will evolve to serve the very useful function of isolating the end user from the complexity of the underlying process or platforms.
The bots will leverage the power of NLP (Natural Language Processing) to seamlessly blend into the natural conversation mechanisms at the workplace (chats with a bot will seem as natural as talking to a human) and use AI and Predictive analytics to pick out the right information from a vast array of systems at the workplace. This holds the promise to unleash a whole new level of productivity. If you are not convinced - just try to track the amount of time you spend in a day searching for old reports and policy information or setting up meetings with people.
In summary: 2018 will see an increased use of technology and smart solutions at the workplace to improve productivity and engagement. With the generational shift now in full effect, work-life balance is no longer a good-to-have perk, it has become a necessity to be an employer of choice. Technology will be leveraged increasingly to make that happen.