2019 the revolution of digital workplaces


Johannesburg, 08 Jan 2019
AI and machine learning are key to empowering employees, gathering better analytics and creating smart workplaces, says Dimension Data.
AI and machine learning are key to empowering employees, gathering better analytics and creating smart workplaces, says Dimension Data.

In 2019, organisations will take more proactive steps to engage and empower their employees.

So says Alex Bennett, Group SVP Go to Market Customer Experience & Digital Workplace, Dimension Data, adding that IT teams in particular, will make a concerted effort to talk to employees across different geographies and cultures, in order to better understand how technology can empower their everyday lives.

Bennett emphases that for this to be beneficial organisations need to ask questions centred around:

* The tasks that individuals perform
* How they go about collaborating as part of a team
* How and where they access the content they need
* The areas of compliance they, and their managers, need to be aware of

Even with the questions above answered, there are trends that will have an impact, and will influence the digital workplace.

Behavioural analytics

When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, Bennette notes that these could be a game changer because they will play a significant role in this new way of engaging and empowering people.

He adds that by gaining insights, IT can show employees that the tools and applications available, deliver everything they need to do their jobs. And by understanding how people use applications on specific devices, machine learning can drive learning pathways to the individual to improve their adoption of the service, improving efficiencies and productivity.

"A good example of how behavioural analytics can be used to improve individual performance is Team Dimension Data's Health and Wellness app which monitors riders to help them plan their training accordingly," he says

In reality, the desire to engage and empower people, and increase user adoption of corporate platforms, is also changing the way organisations contract with their technology partners. Users expect suppliers to have adoption management specialists and use a recognised change management methodology to introduce new technologies as part of the transition to the digital workplace. They're starting to measure their performance by the level of adoption and the satisfaction of their users.

"If you combine all these factors, you can empower employees to deliver better outcomes. ISPPC applied these principles when they created a hospital that was empowering for both employees and patients."

Applications are getting more intelligent

2019 will put the spotlight on applications that gather input from users and making changes to their own functionality to improve the user experience and streamline business processes.

"One large energy provider is using intelligent applications to improve their infrastructure maintenance process. They're using machine learning to analyse subtle changes in power throughput and this allows them to spot if there's an issue with a certain pylon," Bennette adds.

"The company can send out drones with HD cameras to examine the pylon and identify any potential problems. If the issue is a faulty conductor, their intelligent CRM application will immediately interface with the supplier, establish if a replacement is in stock, order it, and pre-book an engineer to install it."

Skinning the fat app

For Bennett, in order to make large corporate applications easier to interface with on the various devices that employees use today, we're seeing the emergence of a skinned down 'user-specific interface' (UX).

"For example, an expense workflow can be awkward to navigate on a mobile phone. But thanks to recent innovations from companies such as Sapho, and through platforms such Nintex as well as Microsoft's Flow with PowerApps; such tasks are becoming as simple as a single click from your device's home screen."

Even with this shift Bennett says that while applications are becoming more intelligent by design, fully capitalising on their potential requires a partner that has experience in the specific industry, understands the business processes, knows what apps are capable of, and has a strong change management track record. The technology you chose can also be dependent on whether you're looking to transform individual productivity tasks or want to transform wider organisational processes.

Digital workplaces are becoming smart

"Every conversation I have with clients today, focuses on how they can accelerate their digital workplace strategy and create a brand that differentiates them from their competition. These discussions have moved beyond just collaboration technologies to the creation of 'smart spaces', such as Allan Gray's six-star rated smart building, that promotes the integration of environments with people and processes to drive efficiencies and boost productivity."

According to Bennett, the only way to stay ahead of the curve is for forward-looking businesses to take a more holistic approach, bring facilities, HR, finance, lines of business, and IT together to craft a cohesive strategy that enriches a culture, drives inclusion, and negates the costly silos of the past.

"We're seeing clients that have adopted a holistic smart spaces strategy make huge savings in energy costs by analysing multi-source data on building occupancy, weather, heating, and cooling."

So is workplace analytics is improving space utilisation? 'Machine learning and analytics can play an important role in optimising space utilisation. Due to changes in accounting regulations, the cost of the space that an organisation rents now reflects on their balance sheets. As a result, businesses are looking to minimise their office space footprint, while still maintaining a high level of employee satisfaction," he adds.

"Progressive companies are using data from collaboration and room-booking apps, combined with Wi-Fi and sensor data, to understand where people are and how they're working together. Some are creating physical collaboration hubs as an alternative to under utilised videoconferencing and seeing increased engagement and reduced costs as a result."

Data authenticity is climbing up the corporate agenda

Bennett notes that today, data is the currency that all organisations are using to achieve their ambitions. The use of unverified data, however, is now becoming a real concern.

"A recent Accenture study revealed that four in five executives (79%) agree that organisations are basing their most critical systems and strategies on data, yet many haven't invested in the capabilities to verify the truth within it. Machine learning is helping to verify workplace data."

If an organisation's workplace analytics professionals don't verify the data they're basing their decisions on, it could be detrimental to the business. "Those that do are using machine learning to verify the data gleaned from applications, smart spaces, and employee engagement to continuously recalibrate their assessments and refine their interventions."

"Leading software-as-a-service companies are even predicting their financial results on their machine learning data in conjunction with their manually-input data from their CRM systems. They have confidence that through the use of machine learning they'll achieve a more accurate prediction of what their actual numbers will be at the end of the quarter, or at the very least have the data to validate what's being presented by their CRM platform."

He says the need to verify data applies to all the trends highlighted, and it's part of a wider movement towards the co-creation of solutions. "Multiple departments, diverse sources of data, people and machines, clients and suppliers are all working together to co-create better workplaces for the future."

In 2019, organisations will take more proactive steps to engage and empower their employees.

So says Alex Bennett, Group SVP Go to Market Customer Experience & Digital Workplace, Dimension Data, adding that IT teams in particular, will make a concerted effort to talk to employees across different geographies and cultures, in order to better understand how technology can empower their everyday lives.

Bennett emphases that for this to be beneficial organisations need to ask questions centred around:

* The tasks that individuals perform
* How they go about collaborating as part of a team
* How and where they access the content they need
* The areas of compliance they, and their managers, need to be aware of

Even with the questions above answered, there are trends that will have an impact, and will influence the digital workplace.

Behavioural analytics

When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI)and machine learning, Bennette notes that these could be a game changer because they will play a significant role in this new way of engaging and empowering people.

He adds that by gaining insights, IT can show employees that the tools and applications available, deliver everything they need to do their jobs. And by understanding how people use applications on specific devices, machine learning can drive learning pathways to the individual to improve their adoption of the service, improving efficiencies and productivity.

"A good example of how behavioural analytics can be used to improve individual performance is Team Dimension Data's Health and Wellness app which monitors riders to help them plan their training accordingly," he says

In reality, the desire to engage and empower people, and increase user adoption of corporate platforms, is also changing the way organisations contract with their technology partners.Users expect suppliers to have adoption management specialists and use a recognised change management methodology to introduce new technologies as part of the transition to the digital workplace. They're starting to measure their performance by the level of adoption and the satisfaction of their users.

"If you combine all these factors, you can empower employees to deliver better outcomes. ISPPC applied these principles when they created a hospital that was empowering for both employees and patients."

Applications are getting more intelligent

2019 will put the spotlight on applications that gather input from users and making changes to their own functionality to improve the user experience and streamline business processes.

"One large energy provider is using intelligent applications to improve their infrastructure maintenance process. They're using machine learning to analyse subtle changes in power throughput and this allows them to spot if there's an issue with a certain pylon," Bennette adds.

"The company can send out drones with HD cameras to examine the pylon and identify any potential problems. If the issue is a faulty conductor, their intelligent CRM application will immediately interface with the supplier, establish if a replacement is in stock, order it, and pre-book an engineer to install it."

Skinning the fat app

For Bennett, in order to make large corporate applications easier to interface with on the various devices that employees use today, we're seeing the emergence of a skinned down 'user-specific interface' (UX).

"For example, an expense workflow can be awkward to navigate on a mobile phone. But thanks to recent innovations from companies such as Sapho, and through platforms such Nintex as well as Microsoft's Flow with PowerApps; such tasks are becoming as simple as a single click from your device's home screen."

Even with this shift Bennett says that while applications are becoming more intelligent by design, fully capitalising on their potential requires a partner that has experience in the specific industry, understands the business processes, knows what apps are capable of, and has a strong change management track record. The technology you chose can also be dependent on whether you're looking to transform individual productivity tasks or want to transform wider organisational processes.

Digital workplaces are becoming smart

"Every conversation I have with clients today, focuses on how they can accelerate their digital workplace strategy and create a brand that differentiates them from their competition. These discussions have moved beyond just collaboration technologies to the creation of 'smart spaces', such as Allan Gray's six-star rated smart building, that promotes the integration of environments with people and processes to drive efficiencies and boost productivity."

According to Bennett, the only way to stay ahead of the curve is for forward-looking businesses to take a more holistic approach, bring facilities, HR, finance, lines of business, and IT together to craft a cohesive strategy that enriches a culture, drives inclusion, and negates the costly silos of the past.

"We're seeing clients that have adopted a holistic smart spaces strategy make huge savings in energy costs by analysing multi-source data on building occupancy, weather, heating, and cooling."

So is workplace analytics is improving space utilisation? 'Machine learning and analytics can play an important role in optimising space utilisation. Due to changes in accounting regulations, the cost of the space that an organisation rents now reflects on their balance sheets. As a result, businesses are looking to minimise their office space footprint, while still maintaining a high level of employee satisfaction," he adds.

"Progressive companies are using data from collaboration and room-booking apps, combined with Wi-Fi and sensor data, to understand where people are and how they're working together. Some are creating physical collaboration hubs as an alternative to under utilised videoconferencing and seeing increased engagement and reduced costs as a result."

Data authenticity is climbing up the corporate agenda

Bennett notes that today, data is the currency that all organisations are using to achieve their ambitions. The use of unverified data, however, is now becoming a real concern.

"A recent Accenture study revealed that four in five executives (79%) agree that organisations are basing their most critical systems and strategies on data, yet many haven't invested in the capabilities to verify the truth within it. Machine learning is helping to verify workplace data."

If an organisation's workplace analytics professionals don't verify the data they're basing their decisions on, it could be detrimental to the business. "Those that do are using machine learning to verify the data gleaned from applications, smart spaces, and employee engagement to continuously recalibrate their assessments and refine their interventions."

"Leading software-as-a-service companies are even predicting their financial results on their machine learning data in conjunction with their manually-input data from their CRM systems. They have confidence that through the use of machine learning they'll achieve a more accurate prediction of what their actual numbers will be at the end of the quarter, or at the very least have the data to validate what's being presented by their CRM platform."

He says the need to verify data applies to all the trends highlighted, and it's part of a wider movement towards the co-creation of solutions. "Multiple departments, diverse sources of data, people and machines, clients and suppliers are all working together to co-create better workplaces for the future."

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