An exploration of current innovations responsible for the transformation of the way we work
As the workplace becomes truly digital, employees are communicating and collaborating in ways we’d never anticipated. As they become new digital end users, naturally, their needs have evolved, too. And so, to reflect their staff’s dynamic experience at work, many leading organisations have begun to implement an entirely new working environment – something that we call the digital workplace, to serve the digital worker.
By enabling new, more effective ways of working through innovation, raising employee engagement and agility, and exploiting consumer-oriented styles and technologies, the digital workplace breaks down communication barriers, positioning you to transform the employee experience by fostering efficiency, innovation and growth.
There are two digital workplace trends currently converging, which are creating both risks and opportunities for application leaders. The first is the growing awareness that the digital workplace is vital to the success of a business’ digital strategy, and the second is that emerging technologies are driving more capabilities for working together more easily.
According to Gartner analyst, Jeffrey Mann, the “intersection of these two trends [is creating] a key opportunity for forward-looking application leaders responsible for digital workplace initiatives”.
And if recent statistics are anything to go by, such leaders are already anticipating their respective digital workplace transformation. A recent Gartner survey of 129 business leaders worldwide reports that over 80% of respondents plan to permit remote work after the coronavirus pandemic. Furthermore, in a PwC survey of 6,669 CEOs, 78% agreed that remote collaboration is here to stay.
However, we are still very much in transition mode and the key to success lies in the effective implementation of a digital workplace strategy capable of driving true cultural changes. In this article, we’ll be exploring some of the biggest game-changers in innovation coming to the digital workspace that will enable this transformation, while answering the following questions:
- What is the workspace user of the future going to look like?
- How do we transition from what we have today into the future?
- How do we deploy and evolve all the past technologies around us from now into the future?
- What are our technical priorities in the organisation?
- How do we deploy technology and make it open, scalable, and less complex for the digital worker?
- And how can these technologies be used for different personas?
INNOVATION: THE REAL GAME-CHANGER
The digital workplace hasn’t just evolved by itself. Along the way, a number of innovations have helped revolutionise how we experience how we work. But what are the biggest game-changers we can expect to shake up this area now and in the future?
Automated solutions will play a huge role, especially when it comes to the automation of end-user communication and collaboration as an end-to-end solution. This includes:
- Chat bots.- As a software application used to conduct an on-line chat conversation via text or text-to-speech, chat bots not only have a more dedicated role but are becoming increasingly sophisticated in an effort to distinguish from the chat bot solutions people are using today. These will provide an intelligent automated platform that can support users without having to go to the service desk. For example, bots will be able to talk to other bots to help with diagnostics and/or automation, or help and assist human agents.
- Conversational AI.- This is another innovation that will prove to be pivotal in the transformation of the workplace. Utilising Natural Language Processing to support understanding what the digital worker requires and eliminate manual employee support, allowing agents to focus on harder tasks while offering better interactions with the users.
- Digital insights .- Acting as an engine that can help us detect issues proactively, digital insights will help fix problems timely or even also proactively.
So let’s put this into context: Any-channel customer service – which is designed to provide a seamless customer experience across various touchpoints – voice bots and virtual assistants are where the end-user will connect to the service. Then, data analytics and artificial intelligence (the brain of the operation) will figure out what the end-user is saying – or not, as there may be issues that haven’t yet been noticed by the user. And then automation will provide the solution, this can include but is not limited to technologies such as:
1. Digital insights like AI DevOps, VI, self-auto heal toolchains
Self-healing is automation within automation. It uses AI and machine learning to analyse and fix failures in real-time, which in turn helps reduce downtime.
With AI, DevOps engineers can let automation take control of exploiting real-time data into the performance of their systems, giving them the time to focus on bigger tasks that need human intelligence and creativity, thus reducing errors. It also means resolution times are faster because team members don’t need to wait for a different team to troubleshoot and fix the problem.
2. Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) applications
COTS refers to relatively low price software products that are ready-made and available for purchase in the commercial market, such as operating systems, office product packages, word processors, and e-mail programs.
3. Robotic process automation (RPA) tools
An RPA approach is all about streamlining internal processes, where people and technology work together in harmony, enabling better insight into trends and opportunities for businesses. This method works best with rule-based, regular tasks that require manual inputs.
4. RDBMS, big data and analytics tools
Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) is software that allows the users to create, update, delete and retrieve data or stored records, allowing users to manipulate data via an interface, helping them to access and modify the data more easily and efficiently.
5. SaaS management platforms or infrastructure automation tools, such as IaaS or hybrid cloud workloads
By helping businesses proactively identify and manage all of the SaaS applications used in the business, these platforms provide a centralised pane of glass solution for managing and reporting on SaaS sprawl that has become a norm, especially among enterprises.
As for Infrastructure automation tools, broadly refer to those which use technology to perform tasks with reduced human assistance in order to control the hardware, software, networking and data storage components, or operating systems, – anything used to deliver information technology services and solutions.
“The world population today is still not that digital-friendly, people still like to pick up the phone. So automating that voice is very important, and there’s going to be a transition period to the omni channel – from now on up until around five years, with five years being that ultimate digital worker.
“It’s going to take some time to get there so we can’t leave the current population behind. We need to focus on voice, automate that voice and make that really compelling with a bot.”Nitin Bhudia, Director of Innovation at Getronics
The ‘Three Cs’
While the benefits these automated technologies can bring are promising, it’s important to bring a potentially fluid end-user experience with all the automation running seamlessly in the background. The ‘three Cs’ of communication, comprehension and collaboration are key to the success in automation of end-user communication.
The first of the three Cs is to ensure the technology is able to communicate with the end-user in a good way. If it’s voice, the voice cannot misunderstand a regional accent, for example, nor can it misinterpret the meanings of the words delivered to it, which brings us onto the next ‘C’
Along with communication, automated processes need to be able to understand the context of what a user is talking about. For example, if there’s an issue on their PC, is that related to software or hardware? That’s comprehension: the bot identifying aspects of the sentence and using linguistic reading to then try to summarise that into what action should come next.
Those next steps are then collaborating with the back-end systems. For example, HR could make use of RPA, where automated solutions go into a HR solution, pull out data, or can remotely access a user’s PC, perform the necessary diagnostics, and update the software, if required to fix an issue. Collaborating with third-party back-end solutions is equally important to deliver that automation.
The three Cs help deliver an equal balance for us to have a successful solution.
The key priorities
What are the main priorities of these automated solutions? First of all, is to provide that fluid and natural end-user digital experience.
- User experience
The goal is for a user to be able to simply have a natural conversation with a bot, and over time it will start to automatically understand the language being used, and how that user personally makes use of syntax, or even the tone and sentiment of voice, to ensure conversation is almost flawless, like that with a real human being. It’s this experience that will keep the user coming back, that will delight them and make them feel confident that talking to a robot is just as helpful as talking to a human.
- Productivity: eliminating the admin
One of the biggest benefits of using automated solutions in a Service Desk is that it can automate the administrative responsibilities that are both repetitive and unnecessarily time consuming for a human being.
Thankfully, digital workplace technology can automate otherwise menial tasks such as asking an end-user for the right to remotely log into a PC that has a fault which needs fixing. Such innovations can issue administrative tickets, find solutions, uncover knowledge solutions, and find automated solutions that can deal with a problem quickly and efficiently without the need for human intervention.
The ever-indispensable human
While productivity is extremely important in terms of taking the admin away from staff in the Service Desk, humans are still an important piece of the puzzle.
There has been much media attention around the topic of robots taking away human jobs. Through the use of AI to deliver advanced behaviours that interact more naturally with their surroundings and with people, service desk staff are concerned their roles won’t exist for much longer.
However, this isn’t the case within end-to-end automation. Humans still have a role to play. The mechanical tasks can be automated while high-skilled humans can supervise and focus on more complex issues. Truth is, there will always be problems that can’t be solved automatically.
For example, the Service Desk might be able to function through automation alone 90 percent of the time, but if an end-user wants to speak with a human as opposed to a machine, the system should understand this comment and give the user that right.
If anything, AI will help create more jobs than it will eliminate – just how Gartner predicted in a 2017 report, stating that IT leaders should not only focus on the projected net increase of jobs: “With each investment in AI-enabled technologies, they must take into consideration what jobs will be lost, what jobs will be created, and how it will transform how workers collaborate with others, make decisions and get work done,” the report says.
- Customer satisfaction
User experience and productivity are both important factors to ensure customer satisfaction. Organisations running these automated systems expect such impact and the reassurance their people are working above and beyond their expectations.
Cost savings play a big role here, too. One of the leading benefits of an organisation deploying end-to-end automated solutions like this is the costs and time it will save the business, freeing them up to put their energies into bigger, better things.
Getronics: enabling the future digital workplace
The whole experience for the end-user is key for Getronics. We want the user to almost forget they are talking to a bot and feel like the interactions are natural and conversational.
Our objective is to reimagine the digital future and workplace experience, and end-to-end automation is in line with that vision.
Getronics Digital Workplace solutions provide an always-on, intuitive experience regardless of where in the world your employees choose to work and the devices they prefer to use. We bring together the best in secure mobility, managed office and unified communications and collaboration, backed by local expertise and support in over 185 countries.
By combining our integration expertise with best-in-class industry partners such as Microsoft, Cisco, Poly, Audiocodes and NEC we can help businesses solve their needs while being ready to handle the challenges of tomorrow.
Our experts, customers and partners work together every day to reimagine the digital experience. To find out more about what our Digital Workplace solutions can do for you, visit getronics.com/services/digital-workplace.