The Case for a More Human Approach to AI

Author: Chris Pope, VP Innovation, ServiceNow

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is all about machines, obviously. Except it’s not. In truth, discussions surrounding AI may often centre around how competent, intuitive and contextually aware the machine brains we are building have become.

But really, AI is all about us―the humans—and how it can make our lives better.

There was a time, perhaps even inside the current decade, when AI tools and functions were still associated with the fanciful ‘talking computers’ that featured in many 1980s movies. It wasn’t that long ago that we considered AI as something of a ‘toy’ and its application in mission-critical enterprise applications was still somewhat laughable. Of course, now we take talking computers completely seriously. So much so that we’re equally focused on the proficiency of computer speech recognition.

 

Application of AI

But as far as we have come, we still need to look at the real world use cases of AI and ask how it can help us make our lives better. If we’re not applying AI to our human work experiences to examine and analyse where it can make those experiences greater, then what are we doing here in the first place?

The truth is, many enterprises large and small have been struggling with finding the appropriate use cases for new and emerging AI technologies. Companies need to find the workflows inside their business models that can benefit from AI. Only then can they start to architect towards turning those operational throughputs into truly digital workflows.

So how do we define AI-enabled digital workflow Nirvana and how do we get there?

Typically, the process starts with a technology audit and a process of assessment, quantification and qualification running throughout the IT stack in question. Individual business units will need to step back and identify their work problems and challenges as they look for the elements of their workflows that can be digitised.

Everybody across every line of business function will be involved―we need to crowdsource and collaborate to identify strategic areas of business operations that still exist as predominantly manual, accurately measurable and fundamentally repetitive.

These are the parts of business that represent liquid gold, i.e. once we tap the seam, we can channel these functions into AI-driven services that subsequently run as digital workflows. Individuals are liberated from drudgery, productivity is increased and employees have a greater experience—a new virtuous circle is established.

 

Practical examples

Think about a typical office. When people leave the company, we need to manage who has a key fob for access to the car park. This is a perfect example of the type of job that has typically been performed manually through the use of a spreadsheet. This is time consuming, error-prone and obviously creates security issues.

But it’s also (I hope obviously) a perfect example of the type of task we can evolve to become a digital workflow driven by intelligence stemming from AI. Our analytics engine should know that an employee is leaving the firm and so reports, alerts, emails and perhaps even mobile device management, to cancel the key fob, can all happen automatically.

If we can make all those things smarter and more intuitive, then we can build better experiences faster.

Uber hasn’t actually done anything fundamental to change the way taxis work or drive. It has changed the digital workflow that governs the ability to book and pay for the service. The list of services-centric examples in this space is growing every day.

 

Automating a bad process doesn’t make it good

In the technology industry, we are often bad when it comes to decommissioning things. Think about how many business processes probably exist today that firms need to eradicate and get rid of.

There’s no point in applying AI to these aspects of the business. As we know, automating a bad process doesn’t make it a good process; it just makes it an automated bad process! So, this re-engineering is actually an opportunity to clean out your cupboard and stop doing the things that you no longer need to do.

An example that came out of a recent hackathon, we conducted, is a tool to help with filing of patents. One of our hackathon teams used AI and ML to trawl the web for all registered patents using word recognition. They wanted to identify connected words to see if a new invention already existed in some form already. This would have been costly manual work, that may have been handed over to a specialist (in this case, a patent lawyer), but now we can digitise these aspects of the business.

 

The human factor baseline

We as humans now need to engineer the existence of AI into our own mindsets and consider how it can help us work differently. This includes knowing what things we don’t need to worry about anymore. For example, we don’t take a map out with us these days, because we use a smartphone—so what else can we stop doing?

As we move down the more humanised road to AI, we will find that AI itself gets smarter as it learns our behavioural patterns, penchants and preferences. We must still be able to apply an element of human judgement where and when we want to, but that’s already part of the current development process as we learn to apply AI in balance when and where it makes sense.

The future of AI is smarter, and it is also more human. The end result is more digital at the core, but more human on the surface. If that still sounds like a paradox, then it shouldn’t. We’re at a crucial point of fusion between people and machines and it’s going to be a great experience.

 

About the Author

Chris Pope - ServiceNow

As ServiceNow’s global VP of Innovation, Chris brings more than 15 years of C-level executive experience with leading technology solutions and platforms across Product Management and Strategy. Chris also has the rare, added-value, experience of having been a ServiceNow customer multiple times so he understands the client and the vendor perspectives on business transformation. Chris’ proven track record working at and with the largest organisations globally, has seen him recognised as a thought leader in process and methodology. He holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Electronic Engineering from De Montfort University in the UK, and is a well-published author and contributor to many leading digital publications and blogs.

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Getting ‘SMART’ About AI

Author: Paul Hardy, Chief Innovation Officer, ServiceNow

Global access to data is exploding. At the same time, our ability to categorise, classify and analyse this data is also expanding. As this new world of data unfolds, businesses are looking to create new data models―and their supporting data analytics functions—to directly and positively impact growth, profit and expansion.

But let’s go back to first principles for a moment. We know that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)―when correctly applied—can improve the way organisations work and operate. But do organisations know where to start as they look to create these new data models?

We―and by ‘we’ I mean you as the customers, us at ServiceNow, as well as our partners, everybody basically—need to ask where to categorise and compartmentalise processes and functions to build new digital workflows. We need to examine which aspects of the business should be most directly ‘exposed’ to AI. We also need to know what is and isn’t possible in the short, medium and long term.

In other words, we need to get smart about being smarter if we’re going to bring a new era of business forward. So, what does smart really mean in modern business terms? I think it is time to look at AI and digital workflows through the lens of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) objectives.

SMART-goals

Specificity

When we use the word ‘specific’ and demand a greater level of product or service specificity, we mean it in the most granular sense possible.

We can’t just say we need more paperclips, more salespeople, more office air conditioning or more field sales automobiles. We need to ask what kind of paperclip shape we need, what colour, what build strength and perhaps even what level of ‘clippyness’ every clip needs to exhibit.

When you are thinking about delivering AI and ML in the business you have to be really focused on what you are trying to achieve―and by that I mean, you need to be able to tie down specific use cases for each and every paperclip.

Measurability

Getting smart with new digital workflows also requires measurability. If you can’t measure it and put it in your business plan and balance sheet (a process, a service, a workflow element, anything at all) then you need to step back and ask whether you should really be doing it.

The reality is that data is often captured and not ever used. It simply falls unmeasured, and unloved, into the data lake. The real cost of this is the ‘noise’ that is created throughout the business because for one, wasted data goes crashing into the lake and secondly, there is then the splashing that occurs afterwards when users do actually realise that they have to start diving into the lake to look for the data that they might actually need in order to make work experiences better!

Attainability and relevancy

If an AI initiative is not attainable or achievable, then why has it formed a part of your current business strategy in the first place? Nowadays we can forecast how far AI will realistically be able to change any given business in real practical terms.

Similarly, if an AI business initiative is not relevant to the business and not able to exist within the context of the organisation’s current and immediate goals, then it forms no sensible part of any smart business plan.

Timeliness

Lastly, we come to timeliness. In the not so distant past, business cycles and the general approach to commercial objectives were typically annual. In this post-millennial age, firms are measuring themselves in much smaller strategic increments.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and business targets used to change year-on-year. Today, they might be calibrated to change monthly, weekly or perhaps even on the basis of individual (tickets) activities relating to individual jobs.

Your next steps

The goal for any business should be to get to the point where they can use smart digital workflows to drive greater productivity, greater quality of all services and greater experiences for all employees.

We know that an increasing proportion of organisations are already examining where they can bring AI to bear and create new value in their business. We also know that many are already on that road and creating new applications and new experiences. Factors that matter most now include service quality, cost reduction, speedy delivery and the need for geographical availability for all new products and services. These are all the defining trends that should be shaping the way we develop new digital workflows that leverage AI and ML.

As vendors, we need to help businesses identify areas for improvement, not just before they start to lose profits and market share, but more significantly, before they start to actually lose contracts. There’s a new culture for predictive business strategy that we are underpinning and making possible.

Smart is smarter if it is more productive and creates greater experiences for everybody inside and outside your organisation. It’s where the smart money is, believe me.

Paul Hardy, Chief Innovation Officer, EMEA, ServiceNow

Paul Hardy, Chief Innovation Officer, ServiceNow

Employee Experience Is New Way to Win Talent War: ServiceNow Research

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Digital experiences outside of work have made life simpler, easier and more convenient. Today’s top talent is demanding the same at work, and global research of 500 human resources executives across 20 industries reveals that providing excellent employee experiences, enabled by technology, are becoming the new way to win the never-ending war for talent.

“The best talent today expects great digital experiences at work,” said Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer, ServiceNow. “Top talent can work anywhere, and they are choosing companies that embrace advanced technology to make work simpler, faster, better. A fundamental shift is under way, and top human resources leaders are creating a new employee experience, realizing that great benefits and cool office perks are no longer enough. Employees want great digital experiences that make work, work better for them.”

Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer, ServiceNow
Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer, ServiceNow

Insights into this digital transformation of the employee experience were released by ServiceNow in “The New CHRO Agenda: Employee Experience Drives Business Value.” “The New CHRO Agenda” report details the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO’s) journey to greater impact; how the employee experience is evolving to impact business results and the impact of an HR function’s capabilities on retaining and attracting the best talent.

From Tactical Manager to Strategic Leader

Over the last three years, CHROs have seen their responsibilities move beyond the core responsibilities of delivering HR services, record keeping and attracting top talent, to a broader role in leading key strategy discussions around advancing corporate goals, driving digital initiatives, and contributing to business performance. 

  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of CHROs say it’s their responsibility to drive corporate performance.
  • CHROs expect their success to be defined by the consumer-like employee experience. In fact, more than half of CHROs (56%) say the ability to create a digital, consumerized employee experience will define their roles in three years, compared with just 6% who say traditional HR will define their role.
  • 66% of CHROs say the employee experience will drive quantifiable productivity gains across the business.
  • 44% of CHROs expect to be judged on their digitization success achieved not alone but by partnering with other C-level executives to set and manage strategy.

Digital Transformation of the Employee Experience

From how employees access services and information to how global teams collaborate, business as usual is being redefined for the digital era by a new breed of CHRO.

  • Three out of five CHROs say HR is now a driver of digital transformation, a top strategic priority for most enterprises.
  • 77%, or more than three in in four, of CHROs say they expect to see improved employee experiences from digital transformation in the next three years.
  • 83% of CHROs say the employee experience is important to the organization’s success.
  • 68% of CHROs say that their HR technology allows them to improve employee experience.

Investing in the Modern Employee Experience

For employees, the workplace will become more personalized, predictive, and seamless. Their needs will be met through consumer-like digital interactions, such as push notifications for administrative work updates, recommendations for services based on recent actions, and instant answers to questions through chatbots that receive data from multiple departments.

  • 70% say the use of technology to foster a sense of community and healthy corporate culture is a goal.
  • In the next three years, almost half (48%) of CHROs will use an HR platform – not applications – that systematizes automation of HR process and collaboration, up from just 14% today.
  • A significant percentage of CHROs are budgeting for technologies (82% on cloud, 69% on social/collaboration, 65% on mobile, and 47% on function-specific applications) that will help them deliver superior experiences.

CHRO Leaders Show the Way

CHROs who are using technology to improve employee experience are winning the war for talent. The survey divides CHROs into a three-tiered model mapping CHRO-led digital transformation of HR functions, and the business overall. HR leaders taking advantage of more strategic investments fall into the top tier, Level 3.

  • 97% of Level 3s are much more successful in recruiting talent, vs. 80% of Level 2s and 53% of Level 1s.
  • 79% of Level 3s are much more successful at retaining talent, vs. 63% of Level 2s and 14% of Level 1s.
  • 84% of Level 3s report lower turnover than their peers, vs. 77% of Level 2s and 52% of Level 1s.
  • 63% of Level 3s successfully reskill their existing employees, vs. 58% of Level 2s and 41% of Level 1s.

Healthcare Leads, Financial Services Lags

Healthcare CHROs trend ahead of the pack in prioritizing superb HR experiences and building positive relationships.

  • 68% of healthcare CHROs say they are successful or highly successful in using technology to make it easier for employees to do their jobs, vs. 55% for non-healthcare industries.
  • Nearly three-fourths (72%) of healthcare CHROs said they are more likely to be successful at delivering HR experiences that match the technology that employees use in their personal lives, vs. 58% in other industries.

Financial services CHROs are more focused on creating an experience that meets individual needs rather than a sense of community and collaboration – and they’re lagging their industry peers in building a workforce that meets business objectives.

  • 54% of financial services CHROs say the use of technology to foster a sense of community and corporate culture is a core goal, vs. 72% in other industries.
  • 52% of financial services CHROs are less likely to agree that a platform that streamlines cross-functional collaboration would drive productivity and improve the employee experience, vs. 70% in other industries.
  • Only 28% of financial services CHROs say they have built a workforce to meet future business objectives, compared with 42% in other industries.
HR Specialists Talk About Their Stances On Time Tracking | Featured Image

HR Specialists Talk About Their Stances On Time Tracking

HR Specialists Talk About Their Stances On Time Tracking | Main Image

The exponentially growing digitalization of business and life itself is disrupting almost any industry in every country, and it didn’t bypass their HR departments either. Until recently, HR has operated relatively separately from the other parts of the organization, but the evolution of HRMS and SaaS solutions made the HR embedded in everyday business just as much as Marketing or R&D. On the other hand, just like new technologies have created new forms of organizing work (think about digital nomads and virtual organizations), so must the way of managing those employees differ from the conventional ones.

In my attempts to understand the challenges of managing people in large enterprises, as well as the shift in the approach that technology brings in this area, I spoke to a couple of experts in this area – a director of HR department in a large corporation, and a CEO of HR software developing company, about their views on employee time tracking as a business practice. Their rich experience in “both sides” of human resource management allowed them to discuss the benefits of this concept, but also to elaborate their objections.

It’s not for everyone

The first professional I talked to is Sonja Jovanović, head of HR in Serbian branch of accounting and advisory company Ernst&Young. Besides using manually filled timesheets for tracking revenue streams, and punching cards system for checking in and out of the building (although this serves primarily as a security measure), the company does not use any other forms of time tracking, nor do they intend to in the future. Working hours are flexible, remote work is allowed in some circumstances, and their company culture simply doesn’t leave much room for implementing this type of business practice.

The very nature of the industry of providing high-quality services to business clients requires a substantial level of professionalism and severity of their personnel. It takes a tremendous amount of confidence, followed by the strong and thorough selection, to entrust a client to a group of employees. “ […] Therefore, I do not see a situation in which a time tracking tool could bring any value to our organization,” says Sonja.

In EY, performance reviews and feedbacks are being conducted through the complex network of department managers and counselors, and though the employees do use computers, their performance simply cannot be seen nor measured by the amount of time spent on particular computer activities. “Our HRM is digitized in many ways, but tracking time does not fall into that. It simply isn’t applicable, because you cannot gauge the scope and quality of intellectual work by time,” she explains. “The more you try to frame people and their creative process, the greater the set-down will be, and the poorer results you can expect. This simple principle is something that many discipline-obsessed managers fail to understand.”

It’s about culture and priorities

In order to find which companies do find time tracking useful, or even a must have solution for their business, I spoke to Ivan Petrović, CEO of WorkPuls, a company providing time tracking solutions for businesses around the world.

“When it comes to implementation of time tracking solutions in medium and big companies, there are two basic factors that affect this. The first is the company culture, and the way productivity is understood in the company. The second factor are the individual views of managers, especially the HR Directors and their priorities”, says Ivan. WorkPuls works with various companies, from BPO companies, software and video gaming companies to construction companies and e-commerce businesses. While they think that there are certain patterns that one might observe among use cases of different customers, they say that there are also differences among specific goals different managers want to achieve.

“If you are in charge of HR in a company that has more than 500 employees like one of our clients, and your top level management has an initiative to increase productivity, or just wants to gain better insights into current ongoings, you might sometimes feel that it is impossible to know what everyone is working on currently, how happy or productive they are, and whether some teams or employees might be too loaded with work. So you want to find a way to get your insights efficiently, and this is what a good time tracking solution should provide. Such software gives you an easy overview of what your employees are doing at any given time, if this is what you want to know, but also whether they are getting more or less productive over a specific period of time; if they have too much work to do, whether they are “morning birds” or “night owls” and so on. With these insights, it is easier to work together with your employees to optimize workflow, provide a better working atmosphere, and consequently bring up the productivity of the whole company. Of course, all under the condition that your employees’ work is dominantly computer-bound,” explains Ivan.

Smaller companies, however, seem to have a different motive. “Speaking of smaller to medium size businesses, many times owners or managers look for an easier way to monitor whether everyone is working as promised, or they want to use insights to reduce the waste of time,” explains Petrović. “But there have also been cases where business owners used time tracking to see whether their employees needed any additional training with the tools they use. If some of your employees are spending way more time on those Excel sheets or Google Translate then the rest of the team, that might suggest that it’s time for additional training in that specific area.”

Since large companies already have their own payroll accounting solutions and punch in/punch out systems, the analytics side of time tracking software here becomes much more significant. Ivan mentions security related questions, along with the need to integrate time tracking data with other data in the company.

“There is an increasing need in this field to provide ever more flexible solutions, balancing the transparency for the employees with solid protection of security and privacy, within the company, but also towards the outside. Integration with other systems is also important.”

Control or motivation?

The overall impression was that for companies like these time tracking would not be yet another control mechanism, but a tool for improving the insight of HR professionals in everyday work and interactions of their people as well. It seems that if you are willing to dig deeper into the metrics, you might discover some remarkable ongoings which would hardly be detected in traditional ways of performance management. For many managers, this feels like a big step forward.

Although the digitalization of HR activities has opened great opportunities in terms of increasing the speed and quality of analytical processes and providing greater insights into organizational affairs, while at the same time reducing costs, there are still some downsides to be looked after. Downsizing the HR departments or burdening HR professionals with technical details are the first threats to successful adoption and modernization of people management. The serious threat to privacy that technology presents is the main reason why the initiative for using such tools should and must come from the HR. Bearing all this in mind, we can conclude that the basic challenge of the profession will be to recognize, develop and exploit the positive potentials of digitalization, while at the same time avoid, or at least minimize the concomitant risks.


If you want to share this article the reference to Gina Ora, WorkPuls and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

Overcoming IT Barriers to Digital Transformation

Overcoming IT Barriers to Digital Transformation

Written by Elie Dib, Senior Managing Director, METNA at Riverbed

Overcoming IT Barriers to Digital Transformation

Today, the role of the CIO and IT department is more closely aligned than ever to business operations. This is because, in order to ensure a seamless digital transformation, both CIOs and their IT departments have to be able to ensure that business objectives are at the centre of their strategies. In fact, this is critical if they want to drive innovation, deliver better customer satisfaction levels, increase workforce productivity, and reduce bottom line costs during a new project.

Elie Dib, Senior Managing Director METNA at Riverbed
Elie Dib, Senior Managing Director METNA at Riverbed

There is one element of IT delivery that is however often overlooked within all these considerations. This is ensuring excellence in user experience. It is the most fundamental measure of success, as without measuring this before and after any digital transformation programme, there is no empirical metrics to help validate claims of any clear change in the experience with confidence. And user experience often determines increase of productivity, employee engagement, cost savings and can also result in better customer service being delivered.
There are four common barriers to digital transformation initiatives. Below we explore the steps an enterprise can take to overcome them.

1. Operational In-Efficiency

Business unit leaders and IT professionals, are often summoned to a war-room meetings to explain why an IT-related project or change aimed at improving business productivity or customer service resulted in so much negative feeling toward the initiative. Unfortunately, this is often because all parties are not aligned. More often than not, these situations can easily be avoided by first starting at the vantage point of the end-user experience to see how IT services are being consumed.

Both business unit leaders and IT professionals need to sit down together and map out objectives and KPIs for technology changes. The plan could be tested with a small group of end-users. But ultimately if both parties know what the outcome must be, there is no room for confusion in delivery — and it can help both parties to get back to their respective roles in supporting the business.

2. Sub-Optimal Application Performance

Organisations are using hundreds, sometimes thousands of applications. New applications are constantly being deployed, whether the new version are upgrades or replacements for old legacy applications. This all brings risk. Poor application performance can significantly impact competitiveness, and, in sectors such as healthcare, can directly affect patient care or put sensitive data at risk.

Application upgrades can be a key catalyst for issues that impact productivity. With so much variation in hardware, location, network, and user expectation across the business it becomes an ever bigger and more complex task to thoroughly test every combination of how an application could be consumed by different users. Data centre monitoring solutions are partially helpful in reporting on the availability of centrally hosted applications, backed by reports and dashboards with lots of positive results. However, this information alone is rarely indicative of a positive experience for end-users on the receiving end.

By contrast, effective end-user experience monitoring allows benchmarks to be created over time which clearly show precise historic application performance metrics. Then, upon application upgrade or migration, any positive or negative deviation in performance can be viewed immediately with the analytics to show exactly where the change in response time and experience is occurring.

3. Ineffective  Change Management and User Adoption

Adoption is key to the success of products and services. Within Riverbed’s collective frame of reference, users tend to only embrace change when they feel confident and experience an incremental improvement in their interaction with an application or desktop.

Users need to be brought on the journey of change. Reasoning behind the changes need to be explained, and effective training put in place to make any change in strategy or a transformation as positive as possible. In addition, for future change initiatives, empirical evidence in the form of data from monitoring can prove invaluable. Businesses must be able to measure system performance against end-user productivity over time to ensure there’s no real negative impact, but rather only improvement.

4. Pure Visibility of the End-User Experience

The three previous topics can easily be combined within the one single category of poor visibility of the end-user experience: in other words — the visibility gap. In short, this relates to the lack of insight into how IT services or change initiatives and digital transformations actually impact the experience of users, which ultimately impacts business performance.

The key thing to keep in mind is that any effect on end-user experience can only be measured from the end-user’s perspective of how they are consuming IT services — and with proactive alerting so when there is a deviation in performance, IT is notified directly, and doesn’t rely on the workforce calling their IT team or the CIO to complain.

So what has enables organisations to embrace IT change for the greater good of the business?

Close the Visibility Gap and Overcome Barriers to Change

The bottom line is that no enterprise business can manage or improve until it can measure. Therefore, the recommendation is equally simple. Measure and benchmark your business’ existing user experience and instantly compare any variations when a change is made.

To conclude, whether the business is looking to change a specific IT component or to enable full-scale digital business transformation (in a positive manner) CIOs, IT professionals and their business unit partners need to ensure the experience for their end-users is optimised as part of the project — in effect, treating them like IT consumers.

What’s more, no business can rely on IT end-users as the primary source to the business to problems. To achieve this, the business needs easy access to real empirical user experience data that enables it to easily compare the before and after of changes. So, the first step in this approach, and for your next IT transformation task, is to start with end-user experience to help ensure a successful outcome.


If you want to share this article the reference to Elie Dib and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

10 Things You Need to Know About Digital Transformation | Featured Image

10 Things You Need to Know About Digital Transformation

Digital Transfomration

Digital transformation isn’t just a phase or a buzzword. Business leaders are now fast waking up to the important role technology is set to play in their growth strategies, with the latest report from Gartner showing a rise in the number of CEOs ranking IT as a priority – “The IT-related area rose from 19% mentioning it as a priority for 2016/2017 to 31% in 2017/2018.”[i] The recent explosion of connected devices and platforms, for example, has made it imperative for companies to quickly adapt their products, services and processes, and move towards the digital world. This, naturally, requires transformation of some kind.

However, the reality is that digital transformation will require some tough choices to ensure your business isn’t dragged along or left behind. But we all know that change is not easy. You might be thinking how do you start transforming? Does it have to cost lots of money? Or perhaps you’re experiencing resistance to change. What’s the problem with doing things the ‘old’ way anyway? Here are ten considerations that that will help companies on their digital transformation journey.

Digital transformation will change your business, but focussing on the right level of change is key

New digital technologies should be seen as an enabler for better, more seamless and streamlined business operations that make your business competitive – driving growth. Focusing on where digital transformation can deliver the most benefits and add the most value in your quest for growth should be where you begin the change process.

Technology investment is crucial to growth but just because the technology is new, doesn’t mean it’s right for you

Sometimes less is more. The right use of technology can radically improve your business, but the deployment of technology for technology’s sake can be self-defeating. Being open to the transformative impact of new technologies is the most important consideration for companies around the world.

Consider where your company is on its digital transformation journey

Growing your technology platform doesn’t necessarily mean your business will grow too. Sometimes it’s better to have fewer solutions than more, but it can be challenging for business managers to keep on top of the latest tech trends and new solutions being launched in the market.

Many competing technologies profess to drive digital transformation, however, the utility of solutions depend on the stage your company is at in the transformation journey. From mobile sales and field services, to wireless sales counters and warehouses, to advanced inventory management – different solutions provide new ways to reduce costs, improve the customer experience, and improve the bottom line.

Not everyone in your company will feel comfortable with digital transformation

Society and technology are changing more quickly than most companies can adapt. From enterprise resource planning (ERP) to cloud computing, new tools, platforms, and channels are creating unprecedented opportunities to connect with customers and improve internal processes—but only for the businesses agile enough to transform and adapt to these new digital realities.

Even so, there’s no single roadmap for digital transformation and the path is different for every company and industry. However, there must be attempts to get employee buy-in from the start. This requires a commitment to digital technology from the boardroom to all levels of staff. You should have leaders with the right mind-set and motivation to lead the digital transformation process.

It’s no good having data if you don’t know what it means

Firms that undergo a true digital transformation programme put data and information at the heart of their technology focused business models. Many are shocked to see just how much information they had but were not utilising properly. The new data landscape provides you with unique opportunities to turn data into insights – the fuel for any digital transformation journey – with real-time updates providing opportunities for better business decision making.

In fact, Forrester Research has found that more than 70% of decision-makers report planned or current initiatives to encourage more data-driven decisions, making unlocking the value of integrated business data critical to success in today’s modern distribution marketplace.

Digital transformation won’t grow your profits overnight – embrace change as part of a wider growth strategy with measurable goals

Change is a constant in today’s dynamic marketplace, but it’s important to be realistic about what you can achieve in a short time. A recent survey we sponsored, highlighted how high-growth companies embrace change. Seventy-six per cent of high-growth companies prefer constant innovation to business stability, while only 49% of low-growth companies do so. In an age where innovation is driven by rising customer expectations, growing companies have distinct short-term goals that embrace innovation and business change as part of a wider transformation journey for growth.

Digital transformation should make your business more adaptable but it won’t make you immune to competition

It has never been more important for business leaders to carry the torch for digital transformation, but the most important factor is making sure digital potential is translated into competitive advantage. This requires top executives to champion the deployment of flexible, digital technologies that change the way they engage with their customers.

As Gartner rightly states, “technology shapes business strategy, but market, political and financial factors prevail.”[ii] Nevertheless, embracing the right technology brings people together, allows businesses to land and expand into new geographic locations with minimum resources, and makes the product development lifecycle more responsive to consumer demand than ever before. 

It takes more than just digital technology to encourage collaboration across departments and divisions

To begin digital transformation, you need to look at your business from the inside out – consider the tools and systems you use, what works well, what doesn’t and ways these can be improved. But when technology is heralded above all else, there becomes an even greater disconnect between employees and the challenges that their business is trying to solve.

There might be isolated investments that are doing very well, but they’re still isolated. New solutions must be an enabler aligned with a bigger mission – to evolve internal processes, structure and culture, or to match the evolution in customers’ behaviour. Consider how you communicate both internally and externally, the strengths and weaknesses of your staff and if their skills are fit for purpose. Do you need staff with more digital skills and will you need to recruit them throughout the process?

Your customers don’t think about your digital transformation, but they do expect it to happen

The digital trends that are impacting every part of business operations will not slow down, and it’s the same playing field for all of your competitors, and every start-up that’s gunning for a piece of your world. Your customers expect that you are embracing digital transformation because they are doing so, and they need you to join them on the journey. 

You can talk the talk, but make sure you walk the walk

To make digital transformation happen, high-growth companies don’t just pay lip service to ideas such as new technology and innovation – they back them up with investment. The growth survey we did, found that in the coming year, 88% of high-growth companies are planning significant investments in technology and innovation, while only 49% of slow-growth companies are doing so.

Digital transformation is different for every business. While some manufacturers will have more challenges than others, and while some will also embrace more technologies than others, being aware of the ten considerations above will be helpful to every business that is embarking – or has already embarked on – this journey.

[i] Gartner, 2017 CEO Survey: CIOs Must Scale Up Digital Business (March 2017)

[ii] Gartner, 2017 CEO Survey: CIOs Must Scale Up Digital Business (March 2017)

About the Author:

Sabby Gill, EVP, Epicor Software

Sabby Gill brings more than 20 years of international sales, operations and enterprise software industry experience to Epicor. In the role of executive vice president (EVP), International, Gill is responsible for operations including sales, professional services, and field marketing, with a focus on accelerating company growth throughout Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific (APAC).

Prior to Epicor, Gill was senior vice president of International Sales for IGT, a gaming technology company. He has also held executive management roles with leading technology companies including HP, CA Technologies, Oracle, PeopleSoft (acquired by Oracle), and DEC.


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Robots Are Taking Over Human Resources

Robots Are Taking Over Human Resources – NCHRA TechXpo Pushing Technology Envelope for Industry

HireMojo LogoSan Francisco, CA, August 11, 2017HireMojo, Inc., the Hiring Automation Platform (TM), announced the unveiling of it’s latest hiring “robot” at the Northern California Human Resources Association (NCHRA) HR TechXpo on August 25, 2017. With this invitation, the NCHRA event demonstrates leadership at the intersection of Human Resources (HR) and technology.

Beyond simple automation, complete functions are being transformed with Robotic Process Automation (RPA). According to a recent PWC Research Report, robots will replace up to 38% of U.S. jobs by 2030. Until now, HR functions have been largely insulated from this wave of technology. The introduction of HireMojo’s robot, which makes it possible for nearly anyone to find candidates and fill jobs without needing industry specific knowledge or resources, sets the NCHRA August event apart.

“We are delighted to see the NCHRA lead the way for technology innovation among HR leaders across the country.” said John Younger, HireMojo’s CEO. “Advancing the balance between human and machine actually makes the entire hiring process more intimate, scalable and effective. We applaud the NCHRA for their efforts to pull HireMojo and others together. ”

“By bringing together some of the most transformative technologies for the HR industry, our goal is to help attendees learn to incorporate these advances into their departments.” emphasized Greg Morton, CEO of NCHRA. “HireMojo’s process automation is a good example of a technology most thought was not possible in the recruiting and hiring function, yet it’s here and it works.”

About HireMojo:

HireMojo (http://www.hiremojo.com) develops a subscription-based automation software for the recruiting and hiring function. Based on the data from filling tens of thousands of jobs with millions of applicants, it’s Hiring Automation Platform (TM) incorporates a constellation of resources and performs many of the routine activities needed to make hiring predictable, fast and easy.

About NCHRA:

The Northern California HR Association, one of the nation’s largest HR associations, has been advancing organizations through human resources since 1960. Delivering nearly 200 programs annually, the association is dedicated to connecting human resources professionals with practice resources, leading California-specific training, legal and legislative developments, quality service providers, and each other–forming career-long networks and partnerships.

Contact: Laurie Pehar Borsh
lauriepeharborsh@lpbpr.com
800.915.2151 x706


The HR Tech Weekly readers get a free registration to HR TechXpo in SF on August 25th! Enter promo code hrtechweekly at time of checkout when you register here: http://hrtechxpo.com/register

The Best Technology To Help Overcome HR Management Problems

The Best Technology To Help Overcome HR Management Problems

In this increasingly digital age, technology is apparent in just about every industry, none more so than Human Resources, or HR. Team and data management is one area that is well serviced by some of that new tech and could help make your HR problems a thing of the past.

Whether you’re an old hand at HR management or a new starter, there’s a whole host of software, hardware and programs designed to help you overcome problems, so you can manage your new project smoothly. Because we’re supporters of all the great tech that’s out there – new and not-so-new – here’s a top 5 of free-to-use team, data and project management tools, perfect for any HR department.

Wrike

While micromanaging can be offputting for a new team of staff, Wrike’s software means your HR team or manager, can see what everyone has done and what they’re working on, all on a single platform. Although you have to pay for the more advanced options that are available, the free version is great starting point and gives you a lot of useful tools. It integrates with third-party programs and, while it’s easy to see what everyone is doing, with regards to any project or regular work, there are handy privacy settings and options, too.

Gantt Project

A flexible and well-appointed app, Gantt Project is a tool that works for HR managers and teams across numerous industries. No aspect of it falls behind a paywall and there are some useful small details – such as the ability to insert milestones or add dependency constraints for moving forward – which can be helpful when creating staff reports and managing development. It can seem a little complex at times, but, there’s a lot of ability here that will help you overcome any previous problems you’ve experienced in monitoring staff anmd keeping on top of thier achievments.

Bitrix 24

If you keep your user count to 12 or under, then this program will remain free, making it the ideal team, data or project management solution for small businesses. This app allows your entire team to communicate easily regardless of their location. And, it comes with free cloud storage too. There are some more useful details in this project management suite of tools, but you might have to pay to access the best of them. It will likely be worth it, though.

Harvest

The world of HR has numerous challenges, no matter which industry you’re working in. That’s why Harvest is a great option for many professionals. It provides an easy-to-use interface that incorporates:

  • Time-tracking.
  • Report creation.
  • Invoicing.
  • Expenses tracking.
  • Is available on mobile, laptop and tablet.

An intuitive tool that makes it easier to keep on top of everything that’s going on, no matter where you are.

Trello

Now, this program has been around since 2011, so is probably familiar to many of you. However, that doesn’t make it any less of a great option for your HR team needs. This piece of tech has grown a lot over the past six years, incorporating multiple add-ins that increase its flexibility and make it useful for multiple industries and specific needs. The interface means it’s easy to see what’s going on at-a-glance, while the real-time updates make sure the whole HR team is always on the same page as the relevant company staff.

Tech Tools for Every HR Management Problem

Only five HR, team, data and project management technology tools have been discussed here, yet there are many more excellent options out there. It’s always helpful, though, to have the benefits of existing options pointed out. Not only does it help you identify what problems you foresee or are experiencing, but you can also see what might not be as relevant to your specific needs.

HR is an important and complex role, so don’t shy away from using some of the great tech that’s been designed to make it that little bit easier for you.

Written by Jackie Edwards, specially for The HR Tech Weekly®

The Next Frontier in Shared Services | The HR Tech Weekly®

The Next Frontier in Shared Services

For anyone who’s answered an email or text from a project team member on a weekend (and that’s just about all of us), it comes as no surprise that digitization has profoundly disrupted the way we work. However, this “new normal” of always-on, instantaneous communication among networks of teams is now dovetailing with another force that is equally as disruptive: a changing workforce, led by increasing numbers of Millennials. Together, these forces are impacting the service delivery landscape and calling upon the HR shared services organization to engage with employees via digital tools, often in entirely new ways.

A digital employee experience is no longer optional; it’s a necessary survival skill for those seeking to attract, retain, and facilitate engagement with the next-generation workforce. At a recent Deloitte workshop, we explored what makes Millennials different, (backed by the findings of the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey), along with strategies for meeting their elevated expectations. Among the characteristics put forth at the event, Millennials:

·      Are digitally native, and, by and large, they would rather use their phones for text or email than talk to people.

·      Expect “consumer-grade” experiences.

·      Tend to shun purely financial motivations, as they feel employee satisfaction and treating people well are the most important values in terms of long-term business success.

·      Crave leadership opportunities, with only 28 percent of the respondents in the Deloitte Millennial Survey believing their organizations make full use of their skills.

·      Expect to have mentors bring them up in the firm.

·      May have little, if any, loyalty to companies and may leave quickly if they believe their leadership skills are not being developed or if the company puts financial performance above everything else.

So, what does this mean for HR shared services? Nearly every company today, but especially those in traditional industries such as mining, manufacturing, and energy & resources, must find a way to replace growing numbers of retirees by attracting Millennials and elevating them to leadership roles quickly. This path toward reinvigorating the workforce by engaging Millennials runs directly through HR.

To attract and retain next-generation employees, HR organizations increasingly must deliver consumer-grade services through shared services by adopting digital tools and making the cultural adjustments required to leverage them fully. Many service delivery organizations have started to do this by transforming their contact centers, mainly by moving toward web self-help, email, and mobile channels to address simple inquiries, and reserving voice channels for answering more difficult questions. This makes sense given Millennials’ resistance to talking live, although the electronic component of these interactions has to be customer friendly. The technology has to work, without too much clicking or form-filling, or Millennials might move on—abandoning the interaction, and if the dissatisfaction persists, perhaps abandoning the employer altogether.

The strategic importance of digitizing the contact center was further emphasized in the findings of the 2015 Deloitte Contact Center Survey. Of note, 85 percent of organizations surveyed view the customer experience provided through their contact centers as a competitive differentiator, and half (50 percent) believe the contact center plays a primary role in customer retention.

While many HR shared services organizations are in tune with the engagement challenges next-generation workers pose, Millennials aren’t the only game in town. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers still must be served, and their customer satisfaction ratings are also important. While Millennials may view texting as a genuine form of human engagement, older groups largely do not. They want to talk to someone, and they view personal interactions as a preferred, and largely more effective way to solve problems, particularly complex ones.

Serving the needs of a multigenerational workforce today requires organizations to introduce digital employee experience tools, especially those that promote self-service and collaboration, while preserving existing voice-channel capabilities, at least in some situations. However, maintaining multiple platforms can be expensive and cumbersome, and stranding existing IT investments is rarely an option.

This has left many HR services organizations overwhelmed by the magnitude of technological change that stands before them. That’s why it’s important to take small steps instead of big leaps. For some organizations, implementing a cloud-based platform might be one of those incremental steps. Far from being just another portal, some of these platforms allow subscribers to develop, run, and manage shared services applications without the complexity of building and maintaining infrastructure and underlying technologies. In evaluating such a platform, the technology at a minimum should:

·      Deliver a consumer-grade user experience

·      Streamline processes and automate workflow

·      Simplify transactions by providing personalized content and context

·      Increase effectiveness and decrease cost for shared services operations

·      Make employee interactions and communication with HR simple and intuitive

Regardless of what technologies you choose, an improved digital employee experience is the next frontier in shared services. The overarching objective is to create a digital workplace that capitalizes on a company’s current technology investments by bringing disparate systems together and providing a personalized journey through shared services processes and related content via guided interactions. Why is this so important? Millennials expect nothing less. Your shared services center has to deliver high quality services or the next-generation workforce may gravitate to an organization that can.

For more insights about current HR topics, visit the HR Times Blog.

About the Authors:

Michael Gretczko is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and the practice leader for Digital HR & Innovation. He focuses on helping clients fundamentally change how they operate, often working with large, complex, global organizations to guide transformation programs that enable HR organizations to reinvent the way they leverage digital to improve the employee experience and business performance.

Marc Solow is a director in Deloitte Consulting LLP and responsible for leading Deloitte’s HR Shared Services market offering in the United States. Marc has led the consulting services in support of several global HR transformation, shared services, and outsourcing projects for large and complex clients in a variety of industries, including insurance, health care, life sciences, consumer and industrial products, and energy.

Copyright © 2017 Deloitte Development LLC. All rights reserved.


Source: The next frontier in shared services | Michael Gretczko | Pulse | LinkedIn

Attract and Retain Millennial Employees with Workplace Technology

Attract and Retain Millennial Employees with Workplace Technology

Written by Atif Siddiqi, Founder and CEO at Branch Messenger.

Business People Group Talking

When was the last time you saw a Millennial take out a piece of paper and write a note on it?

It probably took you a moment to think about that. It’s because Millennials usually take notes on their phones. They are the first generation to grow up using mobile devices and technology as their primary means of communication. As they enter the workforce, they expect to be able to communicate using technology and in the most modern ways possible. They want to have the newest, bestest technologies that allow them to operate as efficiently as possible.

How do you get these uber-efficient employees in the door and keep them? I’ll explain three ways to figure out the specific workplace technologies you will need and then cover four workplace technologies Millennials expect from all employers.

3 ways to figure out the workplace technologies you need:

  • Ask your current Millennial employees which technologies they are already using on the job. Your best source of figuring out what a Millennial wants is from other Millennials. Once you know the technologies they are already using, evaluate whether or not it would be appropriate to officially roll out the technologies to every worker.
  • Literally no Millennials in your workforce? Ask your peers in similar workplaces which technologies they are using and couldn’t live without. Once again, evaluate if it would be a good fit for your specific business and then implement!
  • Visit the app store and view the top apps in the category it is obvious your company is behind-the-times with. Read the reviews. Download a few free ones that people are generally raving about. Give them a spin yourself and then decide which ones are the best in your opinion. Ask a few of your employees to download your top picks, use them for a bit, and then report back to you which ones they thought were the best. Pick the one the vast majority of employees are now chomping at the bit to use and implement throughout your company.

4 workplace technologies Millennials expect:

  • Mobile devices

Millennials want to be able to access information at a moment’s notice while they are working and not near a stationary resource (computer or phone). Mobile devices allow them to quickly find the information required so they don’t need to drop everything, walk to the front of the store, log into a computer, and look it up.

  • Digital communication platform

Millennials are used to chatting with their peers in group messages. They want to be able to pick up their mobile devices and instantly communicate with their co-workers.

  • Digital scheduling

Remember that whole Millennials-take-notes-on-their-phones thing I previously mentioned? Same goes for their schedules. They put their schedules on their phones and set reminders. Make it easier for them to automatically access their schedule by posting it on an internal website or using a scheduling app.

  • Wi-Fi

Technology is basically useless without access to the internet. Wi-Fi is necessary so that employees don’t need to use their own data networks while at work, which are often not the same speed and spotty for service. With company Wi-Fi, everyone has equal access.

By going through these steps, you are sure to have the technologies in place to entice Millennial workers.

About the Author:

Atif Siddiqi, Founder and CEO at Branch Messenger

Atif Siddiqi is the Founder and CEO at Branch Messenger, a free team messaging and engagement app for shift workers. An LA native, Atif relocated the company to Minnesota to participate in the TechStars & Target Retail Accelerator Program. Branch has thousands of employees that rely on the app from companies like Target, Taco Bell, AutoZone, 24 Hour Fitness and more.

You may contact Atif on LinkedIn and Twitter.


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