Web Summit 2017: Painting the Digital Future of Work?

This year’s largest tech conference took place from 6.11-9.11 in sunny Lisbon, Portugal and attracted different industry experts, a thriving start-up scene and over 60,000+ curious attendees from over 170+ countries.
Web Summit Opening

Web Summit is a place to discuss disrupting topics, network, listen to a bunch of interesting talks, meet a huge start-up community and to get a first glimpse of new upcoming trends.
There have been over 1,200+ speakers and numerous speeches, here is what you missed:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning

Web Summit Artificial Intelligence

On the opening night of the Web Summit 2017, Stephen Hawking discussed AI and its advantages but also the danger that comes with it. He mentioned that we should be very open minded towards it but also take into consideration that AI can evolve in a way that it eventually will outperform humans and create a new form of life.

2017 has been the year of AI and it is no longer in the stage of experimentation. Now is the time to build an AI that can outlast the competition and bring the highest degree of customer value.  Companies which understand what to look for in data for their specific target markets and have experts who support the learning algorithm can provide the strongest AI solutions.

Besides that, one highlight on stage was Sophia, the first robot which has been authorized by the Saudi Arabian government to receive citizenship, the latest intelligent robot version, developed by Hanson Robotics, a Hong-Kong based company which specializes in humanoid robotics.

Sophia can interact with people, show her feelings in facial as well as bodily expressions. She is continuously learning through every interaction and looks incredibly real.

Artificially Intelligent robots are already a part of the workforce in some industries – it is very fascinating to see what is already possible!

This event covered numerous fields from AutoTech, HealthTech, FinTech, SportsTrade and many more. The speakers discussed topics like CryptoCurrency, Flying cars, FinTech 3.0, Future of Work, Smart cities and many more.

Web Summit 2017 once again attracted a huge start-up community including HR & Recruitment start-ups.

One early-stage Alpha start-up, like numerous others, gave me a pitch, under the title “Recruiting reloaded. Fully automated AI-generated and perfectly AI-targeted job ads in Social Media.” They focus on using AI in HR & Recruitment to find the right candidates, to define job posting´s “perfect fit”, automating several steps in the recruitment process & reducing human bias.

Web Summit Recruiting Chat Bots

Recruiting Chatbots.

On top of this, their solution already has an integration with Recruiting Chatbots & Live Chats to make the recruitment process more efficient and take over the tedious tasks of the recruiter as well as establishing a new candidate experience. These intelligent chatbots can parse resumes, remind candidates to finish their application or schedule an interview.

Recruitment on the Blockchain.

Validation of facts and transactions. Trust. Secure Digital Identity.

Can the blockchain technology change & optimize the way of how recruitment is done?

Web Summit 2017 attracted start-ups that are focusing on changing the way of how recruitment is done by using blockchain technology.

Blockchain technology basically provides decentralized secure storage which enables validation of the transactions made. This would allow a creation of an authentication database and reduce the time-consuming and expensive recruitment process and make the interaction between employees and recruiter more efficient.

Job candidates now change their universities and later, their jobs more often than they did some years ago. For recruiters, it is harder to track and validate documents and certificates and often a third party provider is paid for doing background checks.

So potential candidates can save their private information like addresses, employers, degrees, social security number etc. on the blockchain and establish their own secure Digital Identity.

Blockchain technology could be a way to facilitate global background checks, solve certification issues and to increase transparency in the recruitment process.

Web Summit Blockchain

Enhanced feedback culture. Company´s culture. Engaged employees.

Web Summit Enhanced Feedback
Web Summit Enhanced Feedback 2

Furthermore this year’s Web Summit hosted several start-ups focusing on evolving the way how Performance Management is done, to enhance a work-life balance and to identify patterns that lead to risk.

Employees nowadays need to stay connected with the company, being offered an excellent employee experience receiving continuous and constructive feedback from their managers. Managers need to act as their coaches to ensure optimal employee growth.

One company from San Francisco gave me a pitch under the slogan “Listen. Motivate. Empower.”

Employees receive 1-2 questions daily to answer anonymously via a mobile app which reduces the use of time-consuming surveys. The questions are based on Emotional and Artificial Intelligence to ask the right question to the employee based on the previous answers and results. The data collected daily from employees via the mobile app will be analyzed and transformed into Real-time insights to manage your employees more proactively and to identify different pillars etc. risk of losing an employee, overstressed etc.

By using these insights, the manager should be able to give constructive and fitting feedback to the employee and identify pillars of risk. This is establishing an enhanced dialogue between the employee and manager based on the insights and drive change management in a company.

The goal is to create an environment which enhances intrinsic motivation and on the other hand boosts performance & productivity.

Video Pitch recruiting

A dynamic team from Switzerland is focusing on getting to know the candidate before the application process even started to invite the right candidate. Recruiters are receiving personal pitches and based on this follow up on the application process. Other teams are using video pitches as well with an already integrated facial expression recognition software so recruiters can easier decide if the candidate is fitting.

Digital Workplaces- 3D office in Virtual Reality

Workplace Gamification. Employee engagement. Remote Workforce.

In this digital era companies need to adapt the way their employees work and collaborate together. This event also attracted the transformation of the traditional office into a digital workplace to enhance remote collaboration via Virtual Reality. This way of collaborating is enhancing the employees’ engagement, unifying communication and collaboration as well as embracing the remote workforce.

My colleague trying the 3D-Office VR glasses of an Italian start-up for collaboration of a global remote team.

Web Summit Virtual Reality

VR can open the doors for workplace gamification. This can be a way to enhance the employee as well as customer experience and to retain top talent.

Each organization needs to analyze and understand in which processes VR and 3D Offices can add value and provide a benefit to the collaboration of employees.

Web Summit Beyond 2020

Next to the start-up scene, there were some talks about the Future of Work like the one “Beyond 2020” held by Simon Cross, Head of Product, Workplace by Facebook which launched at the end of 2016. The talk was positioned around future collaborations in companies and the change of Teamwork via custom Chatbots, and Group Video Chats.

According to Cross beyond 2020 the new collaboration should be:

  • Open by Default & Integrated
  • Mobile first & Connect everyone
  • Multi-modal
  • Personalized & Prioritized
Web Summit  Beyond 2020 2

All in all this year´s Web Summit was a unique experience and can only be recommended to everyone to get more insights & opinions on upcoming topics.

New software and robots will automate a large part of the way employees are managed but it will also allow HR to focus more on processes that cannot be automated.

This event spread the message to the world that HR is changing & will adapt to the digital era and gave a flavor about how the Digital Future of Work could look like!

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Stephen Hawking

Author: Rebecca Huebner – HCM Cloud Solution Consultant

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