Einstein quoted a great saying, “If I had an hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and remaining five minutes to actually save the world”. This quote does illustrate an important point: before jumping right into solving a problem, we should step back and invest time and effort to improve our understanding of it. The definition of the problem should be the focal point of all your problem-solving efforts. As such, it makes sense to devote as much attention and dedication to problem definition as possible. What usually happens is that as soon as we have a problem to work on, we’re so eager to get to solutions that we neglect spending any time refining it. What most of us don’t realize — and what supposedly Einstein might have been alluding to — is that the quality of the solutions we come up with will be in direct proportion to the quality of the description of the problem we’re trying to solve. Not only will your solutions be more abundant and of higher quality, but they’ll be achieved much, much more easily. Most importantly, you’ll have the confidence to be tackling a worthwhile problem. What is digital confusion? Digitalization is on the top of the agenda. But what does it actually mean? CIOs today tend to take a very technical approach to digitalization rather than focusing to matters that are essential for the survival of the company (leadership, governance and people) in the digital era. In the Web 1.0 era, digital transformation was originally a descriptor for aspiring to paperless offices, and a useful term to encourage senior executives to stop having their emails printing out to read. The breathtaking revelation was that they should read them off the screen. The result? A digital confusion where expectation and ambitions are not aligned in the company. Meanwhile, on-the-ground usage of the word digital -- and a whole lexicon of words that collectively represent it (blockchain being a current prime example) have been mangled beyond recognition. We currently live in a world dominated by winner-take-all platform companies: FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) in the Western world and BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, and TenCent) in Asia. The application of practical digital thinking has largely been sadly lacking beyond targeted social media network marketing -- accessing you and your data trails through your smartphone and then attempting to influence you has dominated spending on and understanding of the word digital in the last eight years. Much noise and hype has surrounded broader transformation attempts to remake legacy businesses as digital entities, with the old-line IT services companies investing heavily to reposition themselves as digital solutions providers while distancing themselves from their past, despite that past continuing to be their main revenue stream. How to end digital confusion: Opening more routes for customers to INTERACT with the brand, ideally through channels they control, so the variable costs of each interaction are minimal, and the customer sees better ways of pursuing the journey they desire Those journeys (to buy something, learn about something, experience something) are what a brand has to get done and deliver on. Getting that stuff done requires AUTOMATION that digitizes the end-to-end process, facilitating real-time and traceable interactions that can scale at a low cost That automation generates an exhaust of information to fuel PRO-ACTIVE INTELLIGENCE that can optimize these interactions, anticipate needs, respond faster, and personalize the experience This intelligence becomes an accretive asset on top of which you can INNOVATE by establishing fast feedback cycles. This innovation leads to the creation of new experiences and businesses that add value to the user, leading them to interact with the brand even more, and uncovering new journeys they can pursue Supporting this process is an organizational culture and operating models that encourage a cross-functional, fast-cycle approach needed to make this happen and find the talent that is attracted to this sort of iterative impact. Adding more interaction points (social, mobile, and sensors) to support the customer – both in person and online – leads to a more complex digital cycle. Therefore, you need to ruthlessly prioritize the journeys you want to enable, and invest in the infrastructure for analytics and process execution.v When traditional companies try to make the pivot to become more digital, they tend to pursue many of the four elements of the cycle, but they do so as a list of independent parts. They have all kinds of projects going on to automate some processes, build a new analytic data warehouse, create an innovation lab, or roll out mobile apps. BUT too often, it really is a list of disconnected endeavors, so it is impossible to get the scalability and network effect from growing one’s interactions and data assets. “Digital” should be a deliberate strategy to build the cycle. This requires more design-oriented thinking that looks to enable the complete customer journey. Building value for the business is based on building value for the customer as a cycle of growth.
Are you feeling pressured at work or is your job not as much fun anymore? The ever-increasing demands of the modern workplace have proved to be a major pain point that shoots up the pressure on employees. The present study investigated the psychological health effects and motivational origins of digital stress based on a representative survey of 1,557 German tech users between 14 and 85 years of age. Communication overload from instant messaging, social media feed as well as multitasking via with multiple browser tabs were positively related to perceived stress and had significant indirect effects on burnout, depression, and anxiety. Perceived social pressure and the fear of missing out (FOMO) on information and social interaction were key drivers of communication overload and multitasking. Age significantly moderated the health effects of digital stress as well as the motivational drivers of communication load and Internet multitasking. As a leader you want your team to do their best. And that naturally means providing them all the tools or solutions they need. Unfortunately, that new calendar app, communication tool, or trendy chat app could be more of a curse than a boon. With constantly rising pressure to be productive, higher expectations, and less time for work, asking your team to learn a new, complex tool on their own can be incredibly stressful. And increasingly, it can lead to something called Technostress — health issue sprouting from use of new technology. What is Technostress? As the name implies, Technostress is the stress and negative psychological impact of introducing multiple technologies at work. The term was first used by Craig Brod in his book of the same name back in 1984. Yet while Brod was talking about the widespread adoption of computers & digital gadgets in the workplace, our dependence on (and frustration with) technology has only grown since. What are the main causes of Technostress? Violation: Hands up if you’ve ever taken work home with you. Thanks to smartphones and high-speed internet, jobs are rarely restricted to just the workplace. With technology invading our work and home, it shouldn’t be surprising that we’re getting more stressed. Overkill: Even when work somehow stays at work, we’re often overloaded by interruptions. With the average office worker receiving 121 emails every day (and who knows how many messenger notifications), people often feel under fire and overworked. Check out our blogs on Application and Information overload to know more about this. Complexity: Many workers inexperienced with technology find new tools unnecessarily convoluted and menacing. Every app comes with new “helpful” features and its own unique jargon that you need to learn. You’d probably need a guide for the most “convenient” tool. Apprehension: The pressure of being up to date on every piece of technology, you can get your hands on, is stupendous. Not every one can be a tech alpha geek instantly. Unpredictability: Finally, as technology keeps advancing, many feel a sense of instability and uncertainty about what their work (and life) will look like tomorrow. Nobody likes to work in fear or bullied by anything. AI taking over people’s jobs isn’t, necessarily, perceived as a pleasant news by everyone. Technostress isn’t about a specific tool or app. The constant use of emailing or instant messaging at work, which generates a constant pressure to reply to all signals received, especially where the employee feels the need to reply in order to show their presence. This can place some employees at the risk of developing mental fatigue. The ‘real-time’ nature of online work can develop into ‘unreal time’, slicing up the work-life balance. The effects upon the employee include fatigue, concentration problems, anxiety, muscle tensions and apathy. What does Technostress do to you? So, what happens when you get overwhelmed with new technology? Humans have only one stress response, which is why the symptoms of Technostress look so familiar. For starters, cortisol (the stress hormone) increases significantly. This can quickly lead to strain and burnout at work— bad news for both employers and employees. Along with burnout, Technostress can cause a wide range of other symptoms, like: Headaches, sore neck, back, and shoulder muscles, an inability to relax, and hypertension are just a few of the common physical symptoms of Technostress. Workers feeling overwhelmed by technology have increased errors, worse productivity, more difficulty concentrating, and low morale, and they can become depressed, mentally exhausted, and cynical toward technology. Technostress can cause panic/anxiety attacks, feelings of isolation, and irritability. It can also lead to less time for sustained thinking, work/life imbalance, reduced job satisfaction, and increased mental and time pressure. Pair these with all the other things that can contribute to workplace stress and that new technology you brought in could be doing more harm than good. Even worse, your team might not even be using the thing. Studies found Technostress can lead to workers ignoring or avoiding tech-related procedures. So rather than saving time and money, that new tech could be siphoning money off your wallet you without any actual benefits. This can lead to security risks, as over challenged workers ignore important security procedures. If your team gets stressed out every time, they log on using your fancy new certified and secured firewall, it won’t be long until they stop using it completely. How to deal with Technostress? This isn’t to say that you should stop looking for productivity software that works for you. The benefits of using new technologies in the right way can far outweigh the downsides of Technostress. This means having a strong digital culture with a clear strategy on the use of technology at the core of your business, rather than a throwaway technology policy that nobody pays attention to. · Assess the risk: The first step is to get a clear picture of the current situation. In many countries, it’s a legal requirement to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it. · Increase general awareness: A big part of preventing Technostress is being aware of its causes and directly addressing them. Make sure your team knows they can speak up if they’re struggling with a new tool. Remember, those who only occasionally use technology are more at risk, so include infrequent tech users. · Encourage work boundaries: Often workers complain there’s an expectation (unspoken or otherwise) to take work home with them or to check their inbox in the evenings and on weekends. To prevent Technostress, managers should make it clear that employees are not to reply to work emails outside of work hours. This includes not sending conflicting messages by praising staff members who answer emails after hours. · Carry out technology-specific training: The most important step is allocating enough resources to adequately train staff on new technology. This can reduce most of the contributing factors, including complexity, uncertainty, and insecurity, before they have a chance to lead to Technostress. · Put the right person in the right job: Studies have found certain personality types actually respond positively to many Technostress triggers. For example, workers with a proactive personality were able to deal with overload and were more productive as a result. · Review processes and procedures: Start by looking at a typical workday and redesigning it to avoid unnecessary overload. Too many business owners get starry-eyed over all the apps and technologies available. Instead, take an honest look at the tasks your team carries out and ask yourself: What is the minimum amount of technology they need to carry out their tasks? Do they need all those apps to do their job, or are the apps unnecessarily complicating things? By keeping on top of the tools your team needs, monitoring how they use them, and reducing unnecessary or overly complex tech, you can prevent Technostress before it even becomes a problem in your organization. · Reduce unnecessary communication: One of the main benefits of technology in modern business is communication. We communicate with our teams, customers, clients, suppliers. However, all that communication contributes to overload. That fancy new chat app may seem like a great way to keep your team on the same page, but it could also build up communication debt. By taking the initiative to minimize unnecessary communication, you can help reduce the associated stress. · Embrace novelty: One of my favorite quotes about brain health is: “The brain awakens in the new.” Encourage your employees to learn new things, try new things, and live their lives fully. Offering an on-demand online learning platform with a variety of engaging content from work-related courses to fun courses like yoga and photography will help keep your employees stimulated at work. · Foster social connections: Strengthening existing social connections is another important stress-prevention strategy. However, other people can also be one of the biggest sources of stress. It is encouraged that managers think about the way they interact with their direct reports because putting people under a lot of strain will ultimately be counterproductive. · Digital Detox: Deloitte recently published an article that included a digital detox that all employees could look at an implement over a 7-day week. It is simple and doesn’t take up too much time, and it is also something you could do with your colleagues, friends or family to add a challenge to it. Unfortunately, chronic stress impairs our brain functions in the moment and results in lasting damage long after the event. Even when we’re no longer stressed, our body and brain can still be negatively impacted by stress. This is bad news for companies, both in terms of how employees feel when experiencing acute stress and during its aftereffects. Sustained high stress at work is linked to employee burnout, a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion, which Harvard Business Review estimates costs companies $125 billion to $190 billion a year. Take care of yourself, colleagues, employees, friends and family. Bring back the fun at work and save money as well. Life is too short to not have fun. I would love to hear more about your personal experiences with Technostress. Please feel free to share your stories in comments.
Workplace management solutions remain more popular among larger firms. 95% of large firms (>$1B revenue) reported having dedicated solutions, either in specific departments or across the entire organization. In contrast, only 75% of small firms (<$100M in revenue) had dedicated solutions. The value contributed by such solutions is constantly snowballing. In 2016, they delivered a 33% improvement in projects delivered under budget, a 27% improvement in customer satisfaction, a 25% increase in productivity, and a 25% reduction in failed projects. Altogether, it led to $175k cost savings per project. These stats strengthen the argument for the importance of these tools in an organization. A PwC study of over 10,640 projects found that a tiny, tiny portion of companies - 2.5% - completed 100% of their projects successfully. The rest either failed to meet some of their original targets or missed the original budget or deadlines. These failures extract a heavy cost - failed IT projects alone cost the United States $50-$150B in lost revenue and productivity. Investing in proven tools and methodologies pay off. According to CIO, organizations that use proven practices waste 28x less money than their more haphazard counterparts. APPLICATION OVERLOAD!!! Businesses today rely on countless apps and software for day-to-day operations. However, too many of these programs can do more harm than good. App overload brings confusion among employees, and a recent study shows that this costs more than companies realize. A new study conducted by CITE Research shows that a surplus of apps is causing a great deal of confusion in the workplace. Among the 2,000 workers from the US, UK, and Australia surveyed, 69% wasted as much as 32 days a year navigating between apps — that’s an hour of productivity lost every single day. Monetarily speaking, in an organization with 100 employees averaging pay of $40k, up to $300k is wasted on lost productivity. The same research — entitled From Work Chaos to Zen: How Application Overload Redefines the Digital Workplace — reveals the biggest problem is with communication apps and channels. On average, a single worker juggles four communication apps every day, which is pretty much like holding four conversations at one time. It’s even worse for 20% of the respondents who said they use six or more. Furthermore, the average worker flips between apps as frequently as 10 times per hour, which means more time wasted. 56% of respondents felt that searching for information stored across different apps was disruptive while 31% said it caused them to lose their line of reasoning. It’s tempting to see each individual app as a problem-solver, but when looking at the bigger picture, it could be causing problems. Clearly, app overload has an adverse effect on productivity, and the gap between executive perception and employee perception doesn’t help. Before signing up for yet another app, give your workflow a second look and consider the impacts of disruptive activities and employee preferences. HOW TO COMBAT THIS? In the CITE Research study, workers agree that having only one communication app would clear up all the confusion. Regardless of what the best solution is, it’s probably more affordable than most small business owners realize. A managed IT services provider like us can provide guidance that puts you on track for long-term success. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins, talks about the concept of the Hedgehog in relation to businesses. The origin of the concept is the Greek parable of the hedgehog and the fox, which shows that the winner is not always the biggest and strongest, but the one with a winning formula. The story is about how the smart and agile fox decides to eat the hedgehog. Day after day the fox uses his superior skills to sneak up on the hedgehog with the same result. Just when it looks like the fox is going to get him, the hedgehog rolls up into a little ball with his needles pointing straight out. It doesn’t matter how much better the fox is at everything else, it can’t beat the hedgehog in this contest. It is with the hedgehog strategy that the small, less-resourced company or individual can outperform the bigger competitor. It doesn’t matter if a company has less resources, having the correct resources will always one-up having multitudinous resources. The hedgehog realized what is the ONE advantage he has over his opponent and used to his advantage? Although, before that understanding of the problem one needs to tackle is more important than going into attack mode. Understanding Your Problem Is Half the Solution (Actually the Most Important Half). “ Given one hour to save the world, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and 5 minutes of finding the solution.” - Albert Einstein. What is working for other organizations might not be the way to go for you. After a careful assessment of the issues and what might be needful to get rid of chronic app fatigue, it is time to simplify the clutter.
Going “Digital” is not just slang anymore; it is the reality now. The Pathways to Digital Enablement survey found the work completed by using automation among North American companies doubled over the last three years from 6% to 12% and is expected to nearly double to 23% in the next three years. We have seen a steady increase in the number of organizations developing a digital workplace strategy or program, with implementation of core platforms also underway. Automation and digitalization are powering new combinations of work, talent, skill requirements and work relationships. Digital workplace combines multitude of elements to garner outcomes that are both effective and employee engaging. Elements such as leadership, culture, technology and practices to yield outcomes that impact both employee and execution efficiency. Digital transformation is more of a journey and for the most part it is a never-ending journey. Both the organization and the employees benefit from the digital workplace experience, which ultimately is user friendly too. Organizations use different methods to develop digital capabilities. Those that progress to the level where they are able to effectively partner with start-ups reap many benefits, including leveraging technology that can’t be built quickly internally, increasing agility on new initiatives, bringing innovative ideas and perspectives in-house, and working with top talent. But doing so requires the ability to identify the right start-ups with whom to work, and ensuring your organization has the required time, governance process and resources, including an adequate budget. The bigger picture still shows that the collective digital workplace journey is slow, there are many encouraging signs of progress. Nearly two-thirds of organizations included in the survey already have a digital workplace program in place. More and more organizations have put Digital Transformation as a high-priority item in their term plan. 65% have already implemented a digital transformation strategy in place which is a whopping 20% increase in the last two years. Key Takeaways from The State of Digital Workplace survey: Digitalization and process improvement rank higher on the priority list while Learning and development and improvement of customer service ranked on the lower spectrum. Knowledge management and staying up to date with business culture and adapting to change ranked averagely. In a number of organizations, lack of support from the top management is interfering with the progress in the digital transformation. This along with budget constraints and competing initiatives and/or departments have been discovered as challenges along this digital transformation journey. Digital Transformation requires huge investment and a well-informed decision needs to be taken before said investment is made. In most of the organizations, investment decisions are taken by C-suite/Executive or Information Technology department. Others include Human Resource, Line of Business et cetera. Larger organizations focus more on Enterprise service center, Intranet/employee portal and mobile service capability as compared to smaller organizations. Meanwhile, smaller organizations focus more on forms and workflows. Document management, Enterprise search, Group Chat/ Team collaboration tools, Knowledge Management and Mobile enablement rank higher among important tech development needed whilst Micro services, Idea management and Integrated task centers rank on the lower end of the spectrum. Most of these are in the works or satisfactory when it comes to their implementation. Knowledge Management albeit being one of the more important aspects still isn’t perfected yet and needs work. Email, Group Chat/Team collaboration tools, Enterprise service center also rank higher when it comes to availability of existing programs and its maturity level. Despite the noise surrounding AI and Machine Learning, organizations are prioritizing traditional technologies such as document management over more disruptive younger cousins. Organizations which are mature and mid-way with their digital transformation have exclaimed that they use agile methodologies most of the time but overall organizations follow interactive approach which may or may not be agile. While these technology advancements promise to exceed expectations and improve Digital workplace solutions evolved over the years to respond to the growing and continuously challenging demands of organizations. Every year we witness stronger evolutions from the traditional corporate intranet portals to smartly-integrated collaboration and employee engagement platforms. With technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain to name a few, the possibilities seem to be endless. Companies can begin to leverage state-of-the-art digital workplace software to better engage their employees.
The Software as a Service (SaaS) industry is now worth $116 Billion worldwide. By the year 2020, the figure is expected to reach a whopping $130 Billion. Moreover, 73% of organizations state that almost all of their apps will be SaaS-powered by 2020, according to Kahootz. Top three SaaS companies, Salesforce, Microsoft and Adobe Creative cloud alone constitute huge market share. The worldwide public cloud services market is projected to grow 17.5 percent in 2019 to total $214.3 billion, up from $182.4 billion in 2018, according to Gartner , software as a service (SaaS) is a software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers. The provider delivers software based on one set of common code and data definitions that is consumed in a one-to-many model by all contracted customers at any time on a pay-for-use basis or as a subscription based on use metrics. Organizations are shifting all their applications to SaaS indefinitely due to cutting edge technology and strategies of SaaS to attract, to sell and serve customers better. According to Gartner, a majority of the money spent on enterprise software will be used for SaaS as businesses upgrade, replace, or grow their current software. Back in 2016, Gartner claimed that 50% of all CRM software is SaaS and that by 2025, that percentage will shoot up to 85%. The traditional software model has led to several challenges which has slowed its pace. The evolution of SaaS has been resolving those issues with the advancement of technologies. The past five years have been a boon for SaaS companies with its beneficial features. Since the customer expectations are constantly evolving, businesses are looking for the latest SaaS trends to fulfill it efficiently. SaaS over the years: o In 2014, 45% of workloads in the cloud were SaaS and right now it is almost 56%. o The growth of SaaS does not come as a surprise to most of industry’s experts. Also, the type of work being carried out by SaaS is getting more serious. Originally, SaaS was just used for small test projects due to data sensitivity and hesitation to upload delicate data on a ‘cloud’ which is easily hackable. o But now more businesses are getting comfortable using the cloud and giving it more responsibility. o Companies are no longer relying on the cloud just for sales force processes and e-mail, although those (and similar processes) are still made much easier thanks to SaaS applications. o By 2016 itself enterprises moved an additional 15% of applications into the cloud and invested to have SaaS replace their on-premise software rather than contribute more money to upgrading their in-house software. o 2017 will be remembered as the year of ultimate state-of-cloud performance for software providers, narrowing down the list of market opportunities to a single rule: no SaaS, no revenue! o 33% more companies started using more SaaS applications than they did in 2016. 38% of US businesses started fostering a SaaS exclusive workplace compared to 17% in 2016. o The SaaS market reached $71.2B in 2018, continuing to be the leading cloud segment in terms of revenue. On average, we saw 18 SaaS subscriptions and about $136,000 in total spend at each company. o 2018 was another notable year for software security, particularly due to the marked increase in privacy regulations due to the GDPR implementation. o The demand for Vertical SaaS had finally spiked in 2018. Unlike its horizontal counterpart, vertical SaaS provided a cost-effective, industry-specific alternative that enables businesses to personalize certain functionalities. This makes it more flexible and helps in cutting technology acquisition costs. SaaS in 2019 and the PaaS ball game: o As SaaS continues to increase in maturity, vendors are now shifting their business strategies into retaining their customers. One solution to this is already an existing one in their array of resources—the use of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). o PaaS enables vendors to quickly introduce new apps and deploy code instantly. The PaaS market will continue to be dominated by the top 3 early leaders, namely Amazon Web Services, followed by Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. o Edge computing is another tech innovation that will draw out attention in 2019. Basically, edge computing involves placing data centers closer to the point of use. o More and more businesses have been embracing cloud computing since its launch in the early 2000s. For 2019, the growing trend is toward using multiple clouds. o For three straight years, the top initiative among businesses is optimizing their current cloud usage. Further, 84% of global corporations have already adopted a multi-cloud strategy. This clearly indicates that an all-inclusive cloud strategy will be of tangibility in the near future. The Big SaaS Divide: Segmentation validates the identity of consumer groups, while personas and job stories help to then enrich the identities for other marketing efforts. Considered segmentation leads to increased focused messaging, the ability to build trust more effectively, improvements in response and conversation rates, and can also influence hyper-personalization. Google Cloud and Salesforce are spending aggressively, almost nearing $18 Billion to enable data-driven customer success. Salesforce is the world’s largest SaaS provider by a wide margin, and expects to generate about $13.5 billion in total revenue this fiscal year, with the vast majority of that coming from SaaS. Conversely, while Google Cloud is known primarily as a heavyweight in the IaaS sector of the cloud, new CEO Thomas Kurian has made it perfectly clear that he intends to dramatically strengthen the company’s presence “up the stack” with a stronger SaaS portfolio. Speaking of emerging players, there are an estimated 10,000 private SaaS companies, the vast majority of which are early stage generating less than $3 million in annual revenue. To wind up, technology continues to evolve faster each passing year. The constant rise of blockchain and AI offers businesses with novel, valuable opportunities. PaaS provides SaaS vendors with enhanced flexibility through the provision of personalized solutions for current clients, thus enhancing retention. Understanding SaaS trends helps companies make decisions on technology investments. In sum, zeroing in on these technology trends allow businesses to spend on where they should put their money in and where not to invest. It also helps on how to better deploy and structure the apps that your employees already use.
Machine learning algorithms are responsible for a number of AI applications and innovations we use today. Machine Learning algorithms use statistics to find structure in humongous amounts of data. And when we speak of data, it’s not just numbers. It could be anything like words, images, clicks, what have you. If it can be evaluated digitally, it can be fed into a machine-learning algorithm. Machine learning fuels so many of the services used every day- recommendation systems as on point as Netflix, YouTube and Spotify; search engines such as Google; social media feeds tailored to your interests such as Facebook and Twitter or even voice assistants like Siri and Alexa, the list goes on. Over 16.1 million Amazon Echo devices have been sold, according to data collected in June 2017. That means 7% of the population aged 12+ owns an AI-based speaker device and Netflix reserved $1 billion this year as a result of its machine learning algorithm which recommends personalized TV shows. In all of these instances, each platform is learning about your inclinations as much is possible—what content you like watching, what thumbnails you are clicking, which posts you are reacting to—and using machine learning to make a highly educated guess about what you might want next. Or, in the case of a voice assistant, about which words match best with the weird sounds coming out of your mouth. Deep learning is machine learning amplified: it uses a technique that gives machines an enhanced ability to find—and assess—even the smallest patterns. This technique is called a deep neural network, deep because it has many, many layers of simple computational nodes that work together to go through data and deliver a final result in the form of the prediction. Using one neural network is great for understanding sequences; using two is really great for creating them. Welcome to the magical, terrifying world of generative adversarial networks, or GANs. The goal of GANs is to give machines something akin to an imagination. They are responsible for the first piece of AI-generated artwork sold at Christie’s, as well as the category of fake digital images known as “Deep Fakes.” What are Deep Fakes? Deep fake is an AI based technology that is used to produce or alter video content so that it presents something that didn’t occur. Photo fakery is far from new , but artificial intelligence has completely turned it upside down. Until recently only a big-budget movie studio could carry out a video face-swap, and it would probably have cost big bucks. AI now makes it possible for anyone with a decent computer and a few hours to spare to do the same thing. Further machine-learning advances will make even more complex deception possible—and make fakery harder to spot. How does it work? Deep fake video is created by using two competing AI systems, one is called the generator and the other is called the discriminator. Basically, the generator creates a fake video clip and then asks the discriminator to determine whether the clip is real or fake. Each time the discriminator accurately identifies a video clip as being fake, it gives the generator a clue about what not to do when creating the next clip. Why does it concern you? These advances threaten to further blur the line between truth and fiction. Already the internet accelerates and reinforces the dissemination of disinformation through fake social-media accounts. “Alternative facts” and conspiracy theories are common and widely believed. Fake news stories, aside from their possible influence on the last US presidential election, have sparked ethnic violence in Myanmar and Sri Lanka over the past year. Now imagine throwing new kinds of real-looking fake videos into the mix: politicians mouthing nonsense or ethnic insults, or getting caught behaving inappropriately on video—except it never happened. “Deep fakes have the potential to derail political discourse,” says Charles Seife, a professor at New York University and the author of Virtual Unreality: Just Because the Internet Told You, How Do You Know It’s True? Seife confesses to astonishment at how quickly things have progressed since his book was published, in 2014. “Technology is altering our perception of reality at an alarming rate,” he says. The Impact of Deep Fakes: You can see why a world with GANs is equal measures beautiful and ugly. It also helps in creating satirical, humorous videos or aiding with motion picture special effects and video content production. On one hand, the ability to work with media and mimic other data patterns can be useful in photo editing, animation, and medicine (such as to improve the quality of medical images and to overcome the scarcity of patient data). It also brings us wholesome content like this and this . On the other hand, GANs can also be used in ethically objectionable and dangerous ways: to overlay celebrity faces on the bodies of porn stars , to make Barack Obama say whatever you want, or to forge someone’s fingerprint and other biometric data, an ability researchers at NYU and Michigan State recently showed in a paper . Source: ABC news and Buzzfeed The creation of realistic, non-consensual videos (e.g. causing a person’s mannerism to be “transposed” or “transplanted” onto the speech and/or motion of others) and the ease with which such videos may be made has set off alarm bells in the digital world. In response, several large social platforms such as Reddit have revised their user policies to forbid users from uploading or sharing such non-consensual videos created by deep fake technology. Safety from Deep Fakes: No, face-swapping technology isn’t illegal but one can incur in a Copyright Infringement for using videos made by others. The use of someone else’s face without their consent violates their Right to Publicity, which covers the right to use their image and/or their identity. Using this technology to create non-consensual pornographic content is not technically a crime yet but could fall into the category of revenge porn. However, face-swapping children or underage teens into pornographic scenes is indeed a crime, as even drawings and artistic rendering can be considered child pornography. Most countries allow copyright enforcement to be avoided as a part of caricature, parody or pastiche. There is no reason to believe this will not be the case for face-swap videos as well. The new DEEP FAKES Accountability Act in the House would take steps to criminalize the synthetic media referred to in its name, but its provisions seem too optimistic in the face of the reality of this threat. On the other hand, it also proposes some changes that will help bring the law up to date with the tech. It’s a start, and an attempt to mitigate it before the thing is truly a problem. However, such attempts are usually put down as state policies, so we wait for a few things to go south then get to work with hindsight. So, while the Deep Fakes Accountability Act would not create much in the way of accountability for the malicious creatures most likely to cause problems, it does begin to set a legal foundation for victims and law enforcement to fight against them. Conclusion: If used conscientiously, Deep Fakes can get to a never seen before level of photo realism. Differentiating between a real video and a computer-generated video will be next to impossible in the near future. Thus, there will be dire need for software that can detect the origin of video in the internet. The fact that most Deep Fake videos are obviously fake does not make them less dangerous. While all of the above holds true, it is very crucial to state that the technique behind Deep Fake is, per se, objective and open-minded. Like any weapon, Machine Learning is a tool can be used for good or evil.
Workplace tools intended to streamline tasks have sparked an application overload that’s injecting pandemonium into business processes and costing enterprises in lost productivity. By Shristi Verma, 23rd Jul 2019 As collaboration and teamwork is seen as key in the breaking down of silos, there’s a push for increased connectivity among employees. According to Harvard Business Review, the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative tools has ballooned by 50 percent or more over the past two decades. When a valuable resource such as time is exhausted at such a staggering rate, these strategies need to be adjourned. Time spent by employees in meetings, responding to emails, and on the phone hovers over 80 percent, leaving little time for crucial tasks. A global survey of 2,000 workers showed that workplace tools intended to streamline tasks have sparked an application overload that’s injecting pandemonium into business processes and costing enterprises in lost productivity. Originally published on YourStory.in
Digital Transformation is the culmination of more than fifty years of technological advancements in IT. It began in The 1960s and 1970s as computing and telecommunications strategy started a journey with the capabilities growing exponentially. These capabilities enable businesses to perform their tasks in a better, faster and cheaper way. Earlier, the tech was mainly appointed for streamlining business operations and augmenting it but it did not have a huge impact on the business model as a whole. Ever since the advent of advanced computing and communication infrastructure such as cloud computing and software dominated networks, businesses have the opportunity to go for a radical shift. Now, instead of opting for a minor technology such as the likes of extended support to existing software, it’s used in rethinking fundamental business models from the ground up. This is possible as the tech is readily available and easy to implement. This is the digital transformation- which enables a business to revolutionize the process. As popular as it is now, the concept is still quite hazy and thus risks the chance of being marketed wrong. It is extremely important to understand the hype around the concept. 95% of organizations believe that a digital workplace is important. In addition to that, approximately 44% of workplaces have some form of digital workplace programs in place. It is also important to understand what drives organizations to opt for Digital Transformation. 48% of organizations reported that adopting cloud services has provided them with a better cost model and so far as 73% of organizations say nearly all their apps will be SaaS by 2020. Now to discuss how to flawlessly transform your workplace, here are a few pointers for you: Conduct Trial Runs Digital transformation is not the easiest to get right the first time, especially in highly uncertain and complex environments. It is indeed extremely important, as most companies see Digital Transformation as being key to the very survival for their business. Trying a few things to see what works and specifically allowing for serendipity can be a strong strategic approach. By conducting trial runs, a business can build a picture of how to influence a highly dynamic environment. Examples ■ Digital labs : Having a digital lab in which it is possible to play with new technologies without having an immediate business case. Think of the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing or advanced analytics. In this lab, new possibilities are shown. ■ Evolving customer experience and engagement: This may have an overarching objective, but the way forward is likely murky and requires constant experimentation, validation, and nimble thinking. ■ The commercial aspects of digital business models : These are not always easy to determine. What is the right price to charge? Beta tests with customers and other stakeholders help determine what truly adds value, substantiating a pricing strategy and market acceptance. Generate Alternatives How do you know that your choice will still be the right choice when the business environment changes? Given the often irreversible nature of large investments such as setting up a digital platform, the gap between the technology planning and the investment life cycle poses a significant strategic risk. Thus, making large investments challenging in a dynamic environment. Alternative based strategies are derived from the same concept that the future is uncertain. They are incredibly flexible and diverse. As specific use cases are assumed to be unpredictable, this strategy just describes the principles for each emerging use case to adhere to. New strategic initiatives can be added to, moved or removed from the list at any moment. Examples ■ Business moments : Instead of defining digital processes as a sequence of steps toward a predetermined goal, "business moments" are defined as sets of interactions toward a negotiated goal. A business moment sets the conditions in which unscripted interaction can take place. ■ The cloud : This provides an options-based approach because it can scale elastically . It keeps your computer and storage options open. ■ Data virtualization technologies: These allow data to be left where it lives, without having to build elaborate data integration structures. Data can be accessed and integrated, given the proper master data, on the spot. Should this be too slow or cumbersome, a more thorough process can follow later. Make Decisions The classic view of strategy — that it's based on clear choices over what you do and what you don't do it’s well in situations where there is high certainty for instance, where you have clear control over your environment, and where decisions are highly irreversible. There can be a clear separation between strategy formulation, execution, and feedback, as the roadmap is clear. In fact, a straightforward, sequential waterfall implementation is most probably the fastest and least expensive method. Examples Most of IT is used to working like this, including when implementing enterprise business applications , data warehouses and office automation. These practices have not gone away, but the number of projects that operate under choice-based conditions — high certainty, high irreversibility — is decreasing. Improving the current state of affairs Keeping the current status — actively deciding to not change something — often sounds like an anti-strategy, but there are certain reasons why it might just work for you. First, keeping your existing solutions allows you to focus on improving efficiency and thereby drive down cost, allowing for more resources in other, more important priorities. It makes the most sense to spend as little time as possible on some activities, as they do not differentiate. Second, as you can reverse your decision at any time, it allows you to "wait and observe." Steve Jobs once said, "I am going to wait for the next big thing." This was in 1998. A few years later, the iPod was introduced — the starting point for Apple's renewed success. Jobs maintained the status quo, waited and observed the market, and, when the time was right, focused on the new opportunity. Examples Every organization needs functions such as financial consolidation, management reporting, traditional data management, and other things to keep the lights on. By minimizing the cost and effort it takes to maintain these functions, organizations can free up the resources for more-valuable initiatives. The time for the digital transformation of your business is now. Don’t wait. Focus on your customer and rely on an experienced consulting partner. Embed a digital mindset within your entire organization and understand that business transformation is a journey that will constantly evolve as you embrace future innovations.
Do you know that 85% of workers are not engaged in their work? This roughly translates into worldwide productivity loss which is pegged at $7 trillion. These are staggering stats and chances are high that you may be observing the same productivity loss at your workplace but not aware of its far fledged impacts. The disengagement of an employee at work can be caused due to technical factors or processes in place to execute their task. If an employee is unable to understand or use the technology to deliver, she will be frustrated & unproductive. In extreme cases, if an employee fails to do her job or the feedback is slow then she may eventually leave the organisation altogether. According to McKinsey, almost 30% of senior leaders say that finding talent is the most significant challenge for them. 82% of Fortune 500 executives don’t believe that they are able to attract highly skilled people & 93% don’t believe that their company is able to retain high performers. Employees seek better experience and companies lose their best people to those who deliver such experiences. 71% of employees want their employers to provide similar technology to execute the work that they use in their personal lives. This gap in the demand and supply of employee engagement with their work brings the limelight to Digital Employee Experience. Digital Employee Experience takes into consideration how employees work, the tools & technology used by them as well as the culture at their workplace. An organisation can have the latest technology but if the same tech makes it difficult for the employees to conduct their work then the employee experience is compromised. Amazing customer experience can be ensured only if the employee experience is top notch. No wonder companies like Airbnb, Pandora & Cisco have dedicated Chief Employee Experience Officers. Understanding millennial expectations Mobile first: 86% of millennials use their smart devices as the primary means for connecting to the internet Unified Experiences: A McKinsey study suggests that 50% of all customer interactions happen during a multi-event, multi-channel journey Quick response: 79% of customers say they prefer to live chat purely because of the immediacy that it offers compared to other channels Seamless collaboration & communication: 88% prefer a collaborative work culture than one driven by competition DIY craze: 70% of people expect a company’s website to include a self-service app Personalised: 81% of consumers want brands to understand them better & know when & when not to approach them How to increase engagement and boost Digital Employee Experience Empower employees to work remotely as easily as in the office Empower employees to easily find and install the apps needed at work Empower employees to use apps to execute their work on their smartphones Empower employees to be up and running from day one A seamless digital experience for employees- including the ability to easily access the information and resources they need, anytime, anywhere on the devices they choose - positively impacts business outcomes including the rate of growth, employee sentiment and talent recruitment. The digital employee experience wave is currently driven by tech with the help of collaboration tools, unified multi-device experience, data analytics and visualization, automation, AI, ML & Bot as well as cloud computing. 74% Consumers use at least 3 channels when interacting with an enterprise about customer service issues -Ovum Research 78% of employees say that automating manual repetitive tasks would allow them to focus on the more interesting and rewarding aspects of their jobs - Automation in the workplace report, 2017 By 2020, a customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human - Gartner Conclusion Organisations have to revamp their workplace to accommodate for disruption in the workforce by trends like globalisation, changing demographics & employee expectations. Designing and delivering a digital employee experience is a company-wide endeavor involving multiple teams. Understanding the employee life-cycle starting with on-boarding, through all interactions between the employee and the organisation is essential.
It is borderline insane how much content is available to us as of now. We are in a state of Information Overload right now but in the best way possible. As good as it sounds, it does come with a myriad of complexities and mix-ups. Not only the volume of content has grown immensely but the classification of the type of data has fulminated. With the magnitude of content, it is not a rarity for it to get muddled up and lose its substance. The concept of Enterprise Content Management is an addendum to content management as it provides the content with a timeline of as and how it occurred, also prioritizes it and categorizes it. It also enables the creation, concurrence, and the inception of the same. It also secures the sensitive content as it analogues and digitizes it. It aids the content in reaching its intended party by exhibiting and parading it. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is used to create, store, distribute, discover, archive and manage unstructured content (such as scanned documents, email, reports, medical images, and office documents), and ultimately analyze usage to enable organizations to deliver relevant content to users where and when they need it. Source: Gartner Enterprise Content Management is a collective term for various components of content i.e. Document management, Web data management, collaboration, Workflow management, Records Management, Digital Asset Management, Optical Character Recognition. It manages what we can call as the life-cycle of information if you will. From the creation of information to its modification, archival and ultimately its relinquishment. One of the most important ways, ECM applications are delivered is as a software as a service (SaaS) . It provides information as web access which is stored on the software manufacturer’s system. These applications are also labelled as Content Collaboration Platforms (CCP). As defined by Gartner, the content collaboration platform (CCP) market covers a range of products and services that enable content productivity and collaboration. CCPs are aimed at individuals and teams, inside or outside an organization. Additionally, CCPs increasingly support lightweight content management and workflow use cases. Core user functionalities include • Mobile access to content repositories. • File synchronization across devices and cloud repositories. • File sharing with people and applications, inside or outside an organization. • Team collaboration, with dedicated folders. • A content repository. This can be cloud-based or on-premises, native to the CCP platform or based on other file servers or repositories Discussing the history of ECM in brief, the technology that is being used right now is of the Document Management System (DMS) from the late 1980s and early 1990s. The DMS provided functionality in either of the four areas which included imaging, workflow, document management or ERM . Through the late 1990s, the DMS industry continued to grow steadily. Early leaders already offered multiple stand-alone EDMS technologies. The first phase was to offer multiple systems as a single, packaged "suite", with little or no functional integration. Throughout the 1990s, integration increased. Beginning in approximately 2001, the industry began to use the term enterprise content management to refer to these integrated systems. In 2006, Microsoft (with its SharePoint product family) and Oracle Corporation (with Oracle Content Management) also entered the entry-level "value" market segment of ECM. Benefits and significance of ECM: · ECM provides an all-inclusive centralized platform where content can be maintained and promulgated in a manner which is aligned by all the compliances. ECM helps in avoiding single-use processes created spontaneously which can make an enterprise vulnerable to compliance risks. · An effective ECM can streamline access and business processes, eliminate bottlenecks by reducing storage, as well as paper and mailing needs, optimize security, maintain the integrity and minimize overhead, which ultimately is a huge productivity intensifier. · It also helps in both duplication or non-duplication of data, whenever needed. · Financial fraud and data breaches -- and regulations designed to prevent them -- have made effective information governance essential not only for compliance reasons but also to help protect the organization's reputation. · Enterprises also need to manage content effectively for integration with business intelligence/business analytics Future of ECM: · ECM solutions are becoming popular because of the increased demand of effective management of the immense volume of content which is available right now and also new content is being manufactured on an everyday basis due to the growth of E-commerce, Digital Transformation and the surge in the use of Social Media. · The high requirements of the security of sensitive data and the need for immunity against loss of data and data breaches are also steering the rise of ECM solutions all over the globe. · Deployment of the content maturity model and end-to-end cross-platform solutions is also likely to offer lucrative opportunities for the market players for the future to come. · The Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI) sector is expected to hold the largest market size owing to the growing demand to reduce employee workload as well as improve the overall customer experience. · Challenges expected to be faced with ECM solutions: o Data migration from legacy systems to new systems o The rise in security issues associated with cloud and mobile technologies o Aligning ECM strategy with the organizational strategic initiatives o Lack of technical proficiency among enterprises ECM solutions and services are being increasingly adopted by verticals, such as transportation and logistics, healthcare and life sciences, consumer goods and retail, manufacturing, and energy and utilities, to automate and protect the valuable data, thus, fueling the growth of the ECM market across the globe. Consumer goods and Retail verticals are expected to hold the largest market size. However, the transportation and logistics segment is also expected to represent prospective opportunities during the forecast period for ECM vendors. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) enables organizations to go beyond traditional document management by providing an integrated enterprise platform for managing the complete life cycle of information, automating content-centric business processes and enabling records management.