5 Ways Blockchain Technology Can Revolutionize HR Management

Blockchain technology has transformed many industries and processes, and it’s about to impact human resources management in the nearest future too! It has the power to alter the way HR experts approach their everyday tasks.

Demand for this innovative technology in HR departments is on the rise as its capabilities can be extended to various sectors to simplify and improve its operations.

Read on to learn more about five ways blockchain technology can revolutionize human resources management!

  1. Enhanced data security and protection from cybercriminals

HR departments typically handle vast amounts of sensitive information like personal and financial data on employees. Information relating to pay, health insurance, finance and banking, and performance records can be stored, and therefore exposed to a certain risk.

Blockchain technology can elevate managing confidential data. It can transform data security as the information stored on the blockchain is decentralized and secured through cryptography. 

And as an added layer of security, every change that’s being made requires authorization and verification. This is especially important when it comes to delicate information like medical conditions or disciplinary records.

The adoption of this technology significantly reduces the ability of cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive data, making it extremely difficult to tamper with. Organizations from all industries could take advantage of blockchain to secure employees’ data and identify potential data breaches. 

  1. Transformation of recruiting and hiring process

Recruitment requires significant time and resources like financial investment within the HR department. Many companies turn to third-party agencies or recruiters for this reason, but their services usually come with a substantial fee.

Blockchain technology can help organizations streamline sourcing and managing talent. Instead of going through dozens of resumes, it would enable employers with access to verified data stored on the blockchain including grades, degrees, work history, certificates, and experience. 

Applicants could acquire virtual credentials in a distributed blockchain network and provide potential employers with permission to access their records. Unalterable records of their work histories would eradicate the chances of inaccuracy and fraudulent applications.

With this innovative technology in place, the verifying process would be more efficient and secure as the need for third-party background and employment history checks would be eliminated. 

This way, it would be easier for HR managers to find the right talent for the right role. 

Advanced tech solutions like blockchain could enable the building of the next generation work platforms, eliminating bias, spam, third-parties and their fees, and lack of visibility of available workers. 

  1. Paying workers in cryptocurrency

Blockchain is widely associated with Bitcoin and its mining. With the right hardware, bitcoin mining is a profitable business, and as a result, it got mainstream attention. And since Bitcoin hit its all-time high in 2021, it’s no wonder more and more people are exploring mining cryptocurrencies as an income source. 

But blockchain isn’t confined to this use only. There are other advantages to this technology that can make HR processes more efficient. Facilitating payments to the workforce is one of them. 

Employees want to access their money as soon as possible and move it with ease, and that’s where blockchain technology comes in. With cryptocurrency payrolls, there is no need for intermediaries to process the payments. 

Also, the transactions on the blockchain are encrypted and unalterable, and therefore more reliable.

This is especially important when doing business with underdeveloped nations where banking systems aren’t trustworthy, and the currency is devalued. Crypto-based payroll systems could provide a competitive edge to companies looking to attract more skilled workers across the globe.

  1. Introduction of smart contracts

Smart contracts between the employer and employees would enable instant payments for the workers. And what’s even better, the risk of delay or fraud during transactions would be eliminated. This has particular importance for gig and contract workers, as their work and invoices are usually manually verified, so they have to wait to be paid.

The use of blockchain and smart contracts can automate this process, so payments can be distributed instantly when the criteria for which the wages are earned are met. 

Once the worker completes the assigned task (e.g. deliver cargo safely at its destination), the payment is released automatically. Without uploading workers onto the payroll system, HR teams will have more time for more important tasks.

The gig economy is on the rise, so the adoption of blockchain and smart contracts could help companies attract more talent and expand their business. 

  1. Simplifying international payroll

The world is becoming increasingly globalized, and the remote workforce is growing. For this reason, cross-border payments are an important topic in HR departments. Due to multiple intermediary banks, currency fluctuations, and third-party vendors, paying international employees is time-consuming and expensive.

The international business would benefit greatly from blockchain technology, as it simplifies this process and eliminates the need for intermediaries. As a result, the cost of cross-border payments is reduced, and they are completed almost immediately. 

The introduction of blockchain-based corporate cryptocurrencies would only ease this process further for the HR and finance departments. And of course, the employees would benefit from faster, more secure payments with no changes in exchange rates.

career

5 Benefits of Technology for Lifelong Learners and Career Advancement

Lifelong learning is one of the healthiest habits any self-loving and goal-oriented woman can embrace. As if learning in itself isn’t a treat, a way to become a more fulfilled human being, and a way to expand your horizons, it serves a very concrete purpose for those among you who have high goals for career development, and want to acquire the skills necessary to become a leader, an inspirational figure, a specialist in a certain field, and more. That said, let’s not kid ourselves, learning takes time, consistency, effort, and usually money, none of which you might not be able or willing to give.

That’s okay, as always, technology is here to lend a helping hand. From those nifty laptops and tablets that make mobile learning a breeze, all the way to amazing new learning platforms that give you access to the world’s knowledge base, technology can help you achieve your goals, become a founder, or get a job at a reputable and responsive company – you name it, learning through tech can help you achieve it. Here are the five benefits of technology for lifelong learners and those seeking to advance their careers. 

Learn on the go

One of the first and most obvious benefits of modern technology is that you can put all of your learning material on your smartphone, Kindle, tablet, or laptop, and take it with you! It’s a mobile world we live in nowadays, and there is no denying that many women are balancing numerous daily tasks and overcoming numerous challenges every single day – so nobody would blame you if you simply haven’t the time to stop, pull out a book, and read for an hour or two.

Instead of missing out on the opportunity to expand your knowledge base, why not use the tech you always have on you to take knowledge with you on your commute to the office, or anywhere else? This type of mobile learning is best reserved for subject matters you can memorize quickly, ones you don’t have to practice on a piece of paper, like math. 

Fit education into your busy schedule

Speaking of the hectic modern lifestyle, learning through smart technology allows you to manage your time more efficiently, consume the material in bite-size pieces for better long-term retention, and most importantly, pick up where you left off easily. This type of learning flexibility is one of the primary benefits of learning apps and innovative platforms, as it doesn’t really matter if you’re working from home or if you’re at work all day long. 

Modern applications and platforms specialize in condensing the material so that you can learn it easily, while giving you the opportunity to delve deeper into the subject matter if you so wish. By creating a profile on the platform, you can track your progress, save data, and receive professional guidance and support. In turn, all of this will allow you to fit education into your busy schedule.

Learn nuanced skills to propel your career

Another powerful advantage of modern learning platforms, one that many people fail to recognize at first, is that they allow you to learn very specific and nuanced things. Sure, general subject matters the likes of developing leadership skills, basic math, or music theory are still there, but what happens when you want to learn about molecular biology, astrophysics, or geodetic engineering? Or what if you want to contribute in the fight against the pandemic? Should you apply for college all over again?

No, you should search for those courses online and delve right in on your own free time. This is one of the best ways to upskill and even develop a new career path. If you’re looking to join the healthcare industry, for example, then getting PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) certified and learning about PALS drugs and pharmacology can be your entryway into pediatrics and a way to join the battle against COVID-19. This is the type of freedom and flexibility that only technology can provide – the type of learning opportunity that can help you take your career in a completely new direction.

Diversify your learning material

Students, established business leaders, stay-at home moms who want to kick-start their own career, it doesn’t matter which group you’re a part of, what matters is that you should always strive to diversify your learning material in order to acquire knowledge from various reputable sources. This will allow you to a) compare and contrast, b) learn more efficiently, and c) retain information easily.

However, you also need to equip yourself with the right tech to make the learning process more efficient and effective. Some of the leading learning platforms will use a dedicated VoIP communication system that facilitates synchronous and asynchronous learning and allows you to communicate more efficiently with educators and other students in a virtual meeting room.

It is especially important to have such systems in place when you’re going over exceptionally difficult subject matter. In such situations, it’s also good to use various review materials, anything from videos, guided tutorials, hands-on projects, open-ended questionnaires, all of which can expand your knowledge and help you retain information faster. And all of that with a push of a digital button.

Access to renowned colleges and teachers

And finally, you’ve probably noticed that e-learning platforms and popular apps are now offering unprecedented access to world-renowned colleges, institutions and businesses, and that they are even partnering up with prominent figures from various industries in order to spread their knowledge across the world. This is your golden opportunity to learn from the best of the best, to consume knowledge that has been cultivated at top universities, and tap into the genius minds of your idols – so don’t waste it by sticking to the outdated learning methods.

Wrapping up

Technology has changed every aspect of our lives, so why shouldn’t it change the way we acquire knowledge as well? With these five tips in mind, go ahead and use technology to take your personal and professional life forward, and make lifelong learning a passion.

The Future of Work: What Will Jobs Look Like in the Coming Decade?

Once upon a time a farmer grew up in the fields, owned a family farm, and bequeathed it to his offspring upon his death — offspring that were raised with the singular purpose to carry on the family tradition of farming.

While being “born into an occupation” is a concept as old as time itself, though, it has never been more outdated than the present. The modern work world is awash with change. Everything from workspaces and tools to employers and the employed themselves are all in a state of flux. The 21st-century has already witnessed shocking developments that have rewritten the employment script, and the situation only looks primed to heat up heading into the 2020s.

A Look at the 2010s

While it’s interesting to consider where the future of work will take us at this point, the speculation is made especially poignant when it is juxtaposed against the backdrop of the previous decade or two.

There’s no doubt that the 2010s (and to some degree the decade that preceded it) were times of incredible change for the average business. The steady creation and proliferation of new technological marvels — things like social media, smartphones, and cloud computing — served up a steady hum of digital disruption that turned the average workplace on its head.

Many of these shifts focused heavily on communication. Video and text-based electronic communications, the internet, and the instant transmission of news around the world forced companies to adapt to a more global business mindset. Even the marketplace as a whole shifted as consumers began to rely heavily on mobile phone usage. They shopped online and adjusted to free two-day shipping expectations. By the end of the decade, even traditional, non-digital advertising spending had been surpassed by its online counterpart.

To further complicate matters, the incoming millennial generation prompted a dramatic shift in workplace culture and expectations. Topics like work-life balance and addressing a toxic workplace environment began to take the front seat.

Corporate social responsibility percolated up the ranks to upper management, and businesses began looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint through things like eliminating waste or shifting to solar power. Even small items addressing work-life balance that had previously been brushed under the rug, such as bringing your dog to work, were brought up and addressed.

From one end to the other, the first decade or two of the 21st-century was riddled with transformation, experimentation, and in many ways, a complete overhaul of the traditional workplace.

A Look at the 2020s

With so much change in the rearview mirror, a question that must be asked is if the trend shows signs of slowing in the future — and the short answer is: not likely. The 2020s promise to be at least as transitional if not more than the previous two decades combined.

For instance, the millennial generation served, in many ways, as the guinea pigs of a technological world. They were born into a world with corded phones and boomboxes, only to have things like social media, self-driving cars, big data, and widespread internet use thrown in their face.

In contrast, the 2020s will be Generation Z’s chance to shine. As the first generation to completely grow up in a technologically steeped world, Gen Zers won’t have to face the need to learn to adapt. They’re already used to it.

Rather than shift the job landscape out of a necessity to adapt to change, Generation Zers are likely to take the workplace by the bit and bridle and turn it to their own will. They expect job stability, diversity, social responsibility, and flexible schedules, and they’re not afraid to question the benefits of technology.

Many Gen Zers have also eschewed a traditional degree, focusing, instead, on more entrepreneurial opportunities. When commenting on the termination of Doritos’ popular “Crash the Super Bowl” crowdsourced commercial contest, chief marketing officer Ram Krishnan pointed out that, “If you look at when we started the program, millennial consumers were the target…[Now] Our Doritos target is Gen Z consumers and they’re already content creators.” This recognition of their creative abilities speaks volumes to their potential as entrepreneurs in the 2020s job market.

Apart from the generation change, there are several other major factors that will likely shape the next decade of jobs, starting with the gig economy. In the waning years of the 2010s, the gig economy exploded. Remote work had become both easy and expected — by 2018 70% of the global workforce worked remotely at least once a week — and the rise of the freelancer began to erode the remnant of the traditional work office environment at an accelerated pace.

While controversial laws have recently been enacted looking to bring gig economy workers under the umbrella of common workers’ rights, it’s unlikely that they’ll fully bring a stop to the freelance movement.

How will this movement look over the next decade? While only time will tell, there are several likely adjustments coming down the pike including a proliferation of entirely remote offices and a further elimination of the need to commute to work. And then there’s the topic of automation. While automation already wrested numerous low-skilled jobs from workers throughout the early 21st-century, the trend only looks likely to accelerate going forward.

Balancing out the effects of automation and the gig economy is a natural rise in the demand for more skilled professionals. As employees prioritize work-life balance and flexibility, more skilled professional positions are becoming available in fields like technology, data science, and skilled trades.

Also adding fuel to the first is an increased pressure for businesses to shift their operations to more sustainable methods. Solar power and other alternative forms of energy are being pursued more aggressively than ever as part of larger business objectives. Waste is also being systematically eliminated, as has been clearly demonstrated by the coffee chain Starbuck’s continual efforts to increase the sustainability of its operations.

All Hail the Ever-Changing Changing Business Landscape?

With so much change continually swirling, a natural question that arises is whether or not things will ever slow down again. The 2020 election is already setting the tone for the future, with employment remaining a hot topic and some candidates pushing fairly radical agendas, such as Andrew Yang’s plan for universal basic income.

While many of these changes are easy to predict in general, though, time will only tell how the specific changes in the workplaces will play out as the 2020s unfold.

Image Source: Pexels

What Technologies Might Replace Human Resource Professionals?

One recurring concern surrounding technology in the workplace is the potential replacement of living workers. In fact, this concern has been with us since the industrial revolution, with the introduction of factory machinery even prompting the formation of Luddite groups in opposition. Today we’re unlikely to respond in quite the same violent manner, but we are nonetheless wary of how machinery might make us obsolete.

Over the past few decades, we have witnessed a steep uptick in technological advancement and its introduction into the workplace, from robotics in manufacturing to artificial intelligence (AI) in diagnostic medicine. However, while some traditional tasks have been replaced by technological methods, machines are more likely to be used to support human talent rather than replace it. New technology has also shown potential for creating roles in entirely new industries.

The ebb and flow of labor due to change is well understood by those who specialize in human resource departments. But how could greater reliance upon tech impact the careers of HR professionals, themselves? Is there any cause for concern, and what opportunities might be presented?

Remote Teams

Remote work has proven something of a double-edged sword for some businesses. On one hand, technology has advanced to the point where we can employ a worldwide talent pool, yet we can’t always replicate the benefits evident in physical teams. While the trends lean toward remote workers primarily being used for project teams, 52% of companies that use virtual teams use this method in employing upper management, too. This tech advancement presents challenges for HR.

In this example, there is not a huge concern that remote technology might replace HR professionals. Rather, it is more likely to result in shifts in what is required and expected of those who take on these roles. There will be a need for HR professionals to understand how technology can enhance the hiring process — from utilizing artificial intelligence to narrow down potential candidates, to how best to use video conferencing during the interview process. What’s more, there may be an increased reliance on cloud services to track data and forms for all the remote employees, leading to a higher likelihood of data loss if members of HR are not up-to-date on their tech training.

It could also become necessary for HR professionals to gain a deeper understanding of company projects in order to best understand how to support individual teams and team members, especially when it comes to the nuances of hiring remote employees. In essence, this is an issue of leadership.

Nursing in the healthcare industry provides a useful illustration on this subject. Specifically, there is an emphasis on the need for transformational leaders who understand the technology being utilized and how it affects the holistic operation within work environments. Similarly, HR professionals need to grasp how remote employees best operate in order to provide services which have a beneficial impact on the entire company.

Training and Development

It is perhaps more helpful to look at the implementation of HR technology as a way to lighten the load of day-to-day duties, rather than a threat to the sector. One of the ways in which we are already starting to see digital platforms becoming useful is in learning and development. This is particularly important in businesses where L&D and HR roles are combined.

Educational technology (EdTech) has been useful in reducing the need for a dedicated staff member to be present during every aspect of training, for example. While HR and L&D professionals may need to become savvier in the initial building and ongoing maintenance of training programs to be delivered via EdTech platforms, once designed, there is relatively little need for supervision, and the in-person aspects of the course can be scheduled for convenience.

Thankfully, this is already in line with how most employees prefer to work. Millennial HR professionals will likely already be comfortable utilizing technology in various aspects of their work, and studies show that employees, in general, are keen to improve their digital skills. This bodes well for advanced technology that HR workers may need to introduce into training scenarios, including the rising popularity of virtual reality (VR) in corporate learning spaces.

Closer Human and Technology Relationship

One of the ways in which it’s important to look at technology’s role in any industry is through the lens of collaboration. Rather than simple replacement, elements of technology could prove to boost HR professionals in their daily responsibilities — enhancements that allow them to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently.

Combining technology with our bodies might seem like a drastic step straight out of a sci-fi novel, but it may also hold the key to more efficient working practices. Biohacking is, in essence, a method through which we can use scientific knowledge and equipment to better understand and utilize our bodily processes, including augmentation to optimize our bodies and brains in order to achieve our full potential. The success of any business often relies upon the productivity of its staff members, after all — so is it beyond the realm of possibility that HR professionals could develop expertise in this area which could help make themselves and staff more effective in their roles?

We’re not quite at the stage where chips are being implanted into brains, but biohacking isn’t just about hardware. Technology could be implemented to keep HR professionals and staff in routines that are beneficial to their health and productivity, too. Sensors connected through the internet of things could monitor life signs and activities, and recommendations could be made for supplements, or Nootropics, which could enhance cognitive performance. This combination of analysis, scientific knowledge, and augmentation may become part of the HR landscape as part of a generalized employee wellness plan, ensuring not only day-to-day productivity, but also minimizing areas of inefficiency such as sick days.

Conclusion

It may be time to ask fewer questions about whether machines will replace workers, and spend more time discovering how technology can evolve the roles already being performed. For HR professionals, there are exciting opportunities being presented by our rising digital landscape. By understanding how they can best form a collaborative relationship with technology, human resources departments can help give their companies a competitive edge in a constantly changing labor environment.

Image Source: Pexels

How to Fast Forward your Employee’s Career

Your employees’ professional growth doesn’t happen overnight. Developing people’s skills needs investment of thought, time and love in order to create meaningful change. Ideally a manager becomes a mentor. They provide guidance and coaching to evolve employee skill-sets, knowledge and confidence. With managers acting as the catalyst for progression, we’ve pinpointed five ways to effectively advance your employee’s career path.

Align your business goals

When you’re working closely with your employees, don’t forget to feed back the “bigger picture” to them. You can coach people in leadership qualities all day long but it’s pointless if you’re not communicating why. Employees motivation to excel can diminish if they don’t feel valued or believe they can create an impact for the company. Realistically, how empowered would your employees feel if they’re given the freedom to make smart, informed decisions however they still need to run their ideas by you before making moves? Communicate the objectives and company goals before anything else, and provide freedom for them to actually reach these.

Create a career development plan

Having conversations around career progressions is the first step in gauging employee development, but it’s important to follow up with implementing achievable objectives. This encourages employees to formulate their goals so they can actively execute them. Create a space where you can collaborate openly on short-term and long-term career goals and most importantly how these can be achieved. If you’re not sure where role progression can evolve, check out Search Party’s Career Path Tool to see all possible options.

Articulate expectations

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a popular technique to setting and communicating goals and results in organisations. The main purpose for OKRs is to connect the company, team and individual’s personal objectives to measurable results, ensuring everyone is moving in the right direction. The structure is fairly straightforward.

  • Define 3-5 key objectives on company, team or personal levels. These must be qualitative, ambitious and time bound.
  • Under each objective, define 3-4 measurable results based on growth performance, revenue or engagement.

When OKRs are a place and remain transparent across all teams, employees have complete clarity of knowing what’s expected of them and have something to work towards. Defining these can take into account career progressions or onboarding new responsibilities or projects and when you’re able to measure you’re also able to mentor. No wonder OKR’s are loved by tech giants like Google, Twitter, and Oracle. It’s a proven process that genuinely works.

Actively identify new opportunities within the organisation

When employees begin to seek new experiences or want to build their portfolio of skill-sets, 9 times out of 10 they’ll leave their current organisation rather than take on a new role in a different area within their current company. And it’s no surprise that losing talent and re-training new starters is timely and costly for managers. However this behaviour can be avoided if there is real encouragement and facilitation of internal transfers. Speak with the individual about what skills they would like to gain or areas they wish to excel in and then identify all possible new opportunities and paths they can explore within the organisation. Mentors are those who can look beyond their own areas or personal needs for growth opportunities, even if it means they’re losing a great asset.

Encourage developmental assignments

Developmental assignments come from the opportunity to initiate something new that an employee takes the majority of the reigns with. Internal projects, new product lines or championing a change such as adopting new technology or a restructure in workflows are all great ways to allow employees to step outside of their comfort zones. These kind of initiatives are the gateway into harbouring new skill-sets and embracing areas not usual to their daily tasks. Enabling employees to lead or manage side projects or totally new initiatives are the stepping stones into project management fields and opens a huge number of doors into other leadership roles.

Although most CEOs understand the importance of employee development, the sad truth is that they don’t devote the necessary time into excelling them into greater things. But the proof really is in the pudding. The more effort you put into developing employees, the higher the employee retention, productivity, engagement, turnover…the list goes on!

If you’re unsure as to where career progression can take you or your employees, Search Party have developed a nifty Career Path Tool. Simply type in your current role, and see how careers of people who’ve been in your shoes developed. Or, type in your dream job and see which paths can take you there. Check it out and let us know what you think!


Originally published by Search Party on 29 August 2016.

New ServiceNow Research Highlights What Employees Really Want

Perks at work have become a source of pride and a competitive differentiator for companies vying for top talent. Stocked fridges, catered meals, on‑site fitness facilities, laundry services and complimentary transportation are just a handful of popular perks companies offer to lure new employees. But according to new research by ServiceNow, an effective way to build an engaged and productive workforce is giving employees a better employee service experience during big moments and even small ones in between.

ServiceNow’s “The Employee Experience Imperative” Report, which studies the service experience at work, reveals that employee enthusiasm for work peaks at the start of a new job, but wanes by 22% shortly thereafter. Where are employers missing the mark? The findings tell us that employers aren’t supporting employee’s basic needs on a day‑to‑day basis during the employee lifecycle: 41% still struggle to obtain information and answers to basic questions, like finding a company policy or resolving an issue with their equipment. Furthermore, only 41% believe their employers make it easy to select their equipment before their first day and only 51% of employees believe their employers make it easy to receive equipment necessary to perform their job responsibilities at the onset of their job.

Employees today – regardless of their role or generation – want to be heard and valued, and they want an employee experience that suits their needs throughout their career with an organization,” said Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer at ServiceNow. “If an employee’s experience is lacking at the onset of their new job, the impact for some employees can likely be felt until the employee’s last day. By creating beautiful and meaningful experiences and an environment where work gets done efficiently, employers will benefit from a more engaged and productive workforce.”

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

Where Can Employers Improve? Mobile Work Experiences

One‑third of our lives is spent at work. And, employees want their experiences at work to be more like their experiences at home – like having mobile technology at their fingertips to make finding information and accomplishing tasks simple, easy and convenient. In fact, more than half (54%) of employees expect their employers to offer mobile‑optimized tools at work. Yet, the majority (67%) report not finding it easy to complete necessary paperwork on a mobile device before their first day and only about half (52%) of employees have been allowed to use a smartphone or tablet to access employee tools from HR or other departments. However, those who do have such access self‑report higher productivity than those without these mobility tools. This is a miss for employers who haven’t yet introduced mobile self‑service to their workforce, especially for those aiming to retain and attract millennials, as over half (59%) expect employers to provide mobile‑optimized tools.

A Generation Gap? It’s Smaller at Work Than You’d Think

Baby boomers and millennials aren’t so different at work, after all. Across the four generations that comprise today’s workforce – baby boomers, Gen‑Zs, millennials and Gen‑Xs – employees want a better experience at work. The research found that, across generations and departments, employees are losing faith in their employers to deliver positive employee experiences:

  • Less than half (48%) of employees believe that employers are invested in improving the employee experience;
  • More than half (61%) of employees rate their employers poorly based on a negative experience with personal leave;
  • Less than half (45%) of employees feel that their opinions and perspective matter to their employer. However, millennials (43%) are more optimistic that employers will address feedback when compared to baby boomers (35%);
  • Only 37% of employees believe that employers automate processes to improve the worker experience; and
  • Less than half (44%) of employees believe employers provide them with easy access to information from HR and other departments; the same number felt they did not have access to the information vital to their job on day one.

A positive experience at work strongly correlates high employee net promoter scores (eNPS)– meaning, employees that create great employee experiences are likely to have more loyal, satisfied employees. That’s real business value.

Backlog Management: Making Sure  Your Backlog Is Lean 

A lot goes into running an online business. An online business can be classified as a variety of different things. You can run a website, build software, create an app or a wide range of other ventures. While more and more people are venturing online to start a business, it isn’t an easy task. There is not only a lot of competition but many new startups (whether online or not), will fail.

However, running a business today can also be easier than ever. There are many tools, software, and programs that can help with numerous aspects of your business. For example, with how important coding is to many businesses, there have been several different tools that can assist with your coding and monitoring your app. If you want to learn more about some of them, check out this link: JavaScript Error Logging Service Error Handling.

Unfortunately, trying to do too much or bloating your company with tools or other things can also often be problematic. Clutter or bloating in a company can cause many issues, and this is especially true when it comes to your backlog. A backlog is a collection or list of different new features, bug fixes, changes and more than your team wants to implement. If this backlog is too big or clogged up with stuff, it can hurt your business in many ways. It can slow down innovation, lead to confusion and can greatly reduce your time to market. With that in mind, this article is going to look at a couple of different tips to ensure your backlog is lean. 

Do Your Best to Prevent or Eliminate Waste

When you have a ton of unnecessary items in your backlog, it does nothing but wastes both time and resources. It can also make it quite tough to focus on the actual important items that could be buried in the backlog. As a result, you should get rid of any unnecessary entrants. Reducing the inventory to only things that are essential can go a long way. 

In addition to this, you should be sure to prevent any future waste or overproduction in your backlog. This means you should only look to provide what customers and users actually need, and not try to go above and beyond by overproducing. This will keep everything clean and concise and helps people focus on what is most important. 

Know When to Say No

As you are likely aware, it can be incredibly challenging to say no. This is especially true at the workplace and responding to colleague or coworker requests. However, when dealing with your backlog, it is incredibly important to be able to say no. Any ideas or potential entries that don’t contribute to the overall goal of the team should be declined.

This will ensure your product, software, company or program never becomes bloated. Sure, turning ideas down can be disheartening, it needs to be done. The less amount of items within the backlog, the leaner it will be. Even if something might be important later on, refrain from adding to the backlog to ensure it stays lean. Instead, you could add it to your roadmap or simply keep it on the back burner until it is time to make use of it.

Manage and Prioritize Your Backlog 

Of course, how your team actually manages the backlog can have a huge impact on how lean it is. You need to come up with a management plan and ensure everyone is on the same page regarding it. Everyone should be a part of ensuring the backlog is continuously updated and kept fresh. 

In addition to managing the backlog, it needs to be prioritized as well. You and your team need to work together to decide when and how each item should be implemented. Is it needed right now? Or can it wait for a future update? Addressing this early and often will make sure your team always knows how to move forward. 

In conclusion, hopefully, this blog post is able to help you make sure your backlog is lean. 

How Can Technology Improve Event Management Efficiency

Events, conferences, and meetings are becoming increasingly detailed experiences. And event managers are searching for modern solutions that will help them to keep up with the heightened expectations of attendees. They’re also finding new technologies that can help them overcome the ever-present issues of doing more work while being time-pressed and having a low-budget.

As such, event planners are using more and more innovative event management technologies to assist them in their work, and for a good reason. According to studies, event technology adoption can increase productivity by 27%, increase attendance by 20% and decrease event costs by as much as 30%.

All these innovations changed the landscape in which the industry leaders are inundated by new technologies and products on a day-to-day basis. Everyone is wondering where technology is going next and which investment will create the most ROI.

In this article, we will explain about new and old event technologies that will certainly have an impact on attendees and industry professionals alike.

Using big data

In the last few years, big data has become a hot topic in discussions. Gathering and interpreting huge amounts of information was never easier. But big data is most useful when used in the right way.

For instance, event managers can utilize Google Analytics to find out which online campaigns were most successful for influencing registrations or which were most discussed on social media.

There are also innovative options of tracking movements of attendees through Wi-Fi, iBeacons, GPS or low-energy Bluetooth to see which events they’re visiting. Or, event managers can send out surveys or second-screen solutions to find out the feelings and actions of attendees before, during and after the event. There also available platforms for acquiring and analyzing real-time data to see in which events are attendees and sponsors most interested.

Managing Attendees

Marking late arrivals and managing visitors time of arrival was never easier. New technologies can improve the management of attendees, their time of arrival, entry points and time of leaving the event.

Innovative visitor management app allows you to receive live notifications about your visitor’s time of arrival. These notifications include useful information such as the visitors’ contact details and photo, while other notifications, either through an Email or SMS, give you the ability to sign out visitor once they leave the event. Its benefits are obvious – visitors get to enjoy the reduced wait time and fast and efficient greeting on arrival.

Some of these apps even include VIP and Security Alerts. You get to highlight certain individuals as VIP’s and receive notifications about their arrival in real time. With these new technologies, it becomes much easier to see who is on site and when. Your staff will have an easier time to administer visitors in a more efficient manner.

Mapping Projections

Projections mapping is about creating an augmented reality experience through using projectors. While usual projectors cast pictures on flat screens, with projection mapping you have the option of projecting light onto any surface imaginable and turn everyday building and structures into 3D interactive displays.

This technology enables event managers to add beautiful transformational design elements into any space they would like. From stages to cars to landmarks, this innovative visual technology creates an efficient and cost-effective way to create optical illusions in any event location possible.

Since there are no clear boundaries of what you can do with project mapping, event managers are able to stretch their imagination and create inventive modern displays. Whether it’s a social media wall, a map of convention booths or an interactive art display, the technology is flexible enough to create a variety of displays – that can be used everywhere, from meeting and conferences to concerts and parties.

Increased Networking Capabilities

Social media can be applied to many fields of event managing. Social media makes it simpler for attendees to share their feelings of an event, while event managers can receive feedback from attendees more efficiently. Thus, you can use social media as a feedback system for improving future events.

Besides this, social media marketing is a great way of advertising any event. With social media people around the globe can be easily reached, a task that would be impossible without it and the Internet. Attendees are also able to share the event with other people, creating an almost free advertising platform.

You can also use email marketing for event promotion. When email marketing is combined with marketing automation, you have the option of sending more personalized emails about the event to attendees.

 

Event management technologies can save time, money and efforts of event managers while enhancing the experience of attendees. Your work requires fewer efforts thus giving you time to focus on the core part of the event. These technologies can help with all aspects of event managing from managing the attendees time of arrival, their satisfaction levels to receiving proper feedback, so make sure to test at least some of them for your next event.

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.

Cobots – The New Employee

Author: Chris Pope, VP Innovation, ServiceNow

 

The renaissance we are currently experiencing in Artificial Intelligence (AI), and all forms of Machine Learning (ML), has given rise to widespread discussion on how business will run in the immediate future. As the impact of AI starts to be applied to real-world use cases, we will inevitably need to get used to some new terminology. One of the technology industry’s new favorites is the notion of the ‘cobot’, short for collaborative-robot.

Cobots come in many forms. Some will be purely software-based helper robots that we might think of as sophisticated extensions of chatbots or virtual assistants. Some will more physically manifest themselves as robot arms, exoskeletons or some other form of intelligently programmed machinery. Some will be a super-smart mix of both.

 

Your intelligent new office buddy

You can think of cobots as your new office buddies and people—I do mean all of us―are going to have to get used to working alongside intelligent machines, in close proximity, very soon.

Cobot brains are composed of software-based virtual services that form the synapses of ‘thought’—we know its processing and data analytics really―that they run on. Like a Tamagotchi, they do need feeding and watering, but only in the form of software updates, exposure to new datasets and patches for security provisioning and so on.

People who find the notion of cobots unnerving should perhaps stand back and consider the fact that machines have already been looking after us in close proximity for years. Your desktop machine, tablet and smartphone are all using AI to power the spam filter algorithms that assess every email you get for its potential threat value.

If it helps you warm up to the concept, think of cobots as just one step further than a spam filter. But instead of just protecting you from a potential virus, cobots will be able to intuitively manage your work schedule, actions and business decisions, to create a better employee experience all round.

As DXC Technology’s Marc Wilkinson writes in Wired:

For businesses, the promise of AI is that [intelligent assistants] will be embedded across all aspects of the organization. Such agents will analyse data, discover patterns over time and then make decisions based on predictive analysis. The outcome? The application of AI on this level will make businesses not only more efficient, but also more profitable.

 

Behavioral responsibility

As shiny and fabulous as all this sounds, there is a responsibility factor to bear in mind here. As we start to feed data into cobot brains, we need to be able to reflect a consciousness of and appreciation for society’s acceptable behavioral norms.

This means that cobots will need to be able to assess the risk factor in terms of the judgements they give to any individual worker based on that person’s skills, background and other competencies. To do this effectively, we will need to be able to assess and measure individual workers’ skills in an even more granular and mathematical way before we start to engineer more automation of this kind into our lives.

Cobots will also need to appreciate cultural, ethical and behavioral norms for the global culture that they are applied in depending on location—and this is of course a subject in and of itself.

 

Cobots and global digital workflows

As the cobots start to take over the mundane tasks in our world, we must consider how people will now coexist in the new world of automated controls that drive digital workflows and how we actually implement these devices―be they software-based, hardware-based or both—in the workplace.

Some argue that we will now need to be able to measure an individual’s rank or score in terms of workplace competency. If we accept this methodology, then it could arguably help us find the engineering point at which we can apply cobot technology to an individual’s role.

To reference DXC’s Marc Wilkinson again, he notes that really smart cobots that run on fine-tuned ML models will be able to bring a new level of workplace personalization to our daily routines and discover where we could be doing better. He talks about ‘intelligent agents’ that are capable of interpreting emails for us to automatically schedule meetings, flag important tasks and even unsubscribe us from newsfeeds that we never open, and more.

With a cobot as your new office buddy, we can start to think about the workplace itself from a different perspective. We’re all used to open plan office seating layouts these days, but with cobots in the workplace, the software itself will be able to straddle cross-team functionality matrices that far outstrip the boundaries of the physical office itself. For example, team member actions in the UAE can be automatically reflected in plans for the UK or US offices in near real-time. The cobot doesn’t sleep, so a new global digital workflow starts to become possible.

 

A toast to cobot IPA

With cobot technology now developing fast, we will more clearly be able to understand our transition from RPA to IPA or IRPA. If Robotic Process Automation (RPA) allows us to program home heating controls, for example, based on defined patterns, then Intelligent Robotic Process Automation (IRPA, or just IPA) is one step further, where home heating controls start to program themselves for optimum usage and efficiency based upon observed patterns of use. Cobots have IRPA in their ‘DNA’ from the get-go.

We’re on the cusp of many technologies―perceived today as almost ‘toy like’, such as self-driving cars—becoming quite natural. We will think that cobots and intelligent assistants are quite standard in half a decade’s time. In the same way that you went from reading a map in the car and now automatically turning the GPS on, you get to a point where you just expect a new technology to be there…and cobots will be there.

Chris Pope - ServiceNow

Chris Pope, VP Innovation at ServiceNow