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Developing insights leads to digital transformation success, says BGIS VP of Strategy

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Photo courtesy GoSpaces
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The most important part of digital transformation for businesses is gathering insights and using them to create more value, according to Lorri Rowlandson, Vice President of Innovation and Strategy and BGIS, a provider of real estate and technology innovation consulting.

Speaking at WORKTECH17 in Toronto in October, Rowlandson says that while a shiny new piece of technology can be useful, the most important part of digital transformation for businesses is gathering insights and using them to create more value.

Success is not some shiny new dashboard — it’s learning how to build and run a better business through insights, she says.

“Success is actually implementing some type of insight that you actually learn from the analytics. A lot of people get technology narcissism, where they care about the dashboard but they don’t actually have the skills to interpret the data and do something different.”

GoSpaces

At WorkTech, Rowlandson presented on gamification within the workplace, and how data derived from new tools that adopt game-like interfaces can be used to improve the employee experience. Gamification is already being used in consumer products such as Waze and FourSquare, but the potential of these tools to engage employees is only just being realized now.

BGIS is working with an app called GoSpaces that intends to gamify employee goals, allowing businesses to educate employees, receive regular feedback and build valuable insights to drive practical innovation.

GoSpaces functions as a “fitbit for the workplace,” says Rowlandson, providing a challenge and award system intended to boost the social, sustainable and financial outcomes of the business.

The GoSpaces app focusses on several key areas of the employee journey within the workplace:

  • Collecting feedback and service requests
  • Providing efficient reservation tools for meeting rooms
  • Tracking and rewarding daily sustainability goals such as biking, reducing paper usage or carpooling
  • Enabling hot-desking and flexible workspaces

All of this data allows businesses to mine key insights that can be used to drive innovative change. The GoSpaces app brings the feedback economy into the regular workcycle, giving businesses a better understanding of the employee journey.

Who deals with DX?

One of the biggest questions for businesses right now is who directs digital transformation, and employee-facing technology is no exception. So who drives initiatives such as GoSpaces that transform the work environment? Rowlandson points to the need for a holistic approach.

She says the importance of making sure that the head of real estate and the head of IT are working “hand in hand” helps to promote innovation.

“With a lot of cloud computing, information security, IT has their own pipeline of activities and then of course corporate real estate comes in from the outside. It gets at risk of being deprioritized.”

Corporate real estate can shape the innovation conversation, and help businesses avoid siloing when it comes to the complex process of digital transformation.

”To make sure that we’re not stalling and stifling innovation with the approval process and then becoming irrelevant,” says Rowlandson, “it’s important that they’re working together closely — closer than ever before.”

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30 percent of business apps to gain AI enhancements by 2019

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Courtesy Google
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Almost 30 percent of business apps will be updated to include artificial intelligence (AI) enhancements within the next two years, according to a new article from a CCS Insight analyst.

In addition, nearly 60 percent of enterprises are using or trialling AI technology in their business.

Artificial intelligence is developing at an increasingly rapid rate as it diversifies into more applications and environments. Companies are betting big on AI tech to drive forward digital transformation, improve efficiency and deliver better customer experiences.

According to a study cited by CCS Insight analyst Nicholas McQuire, 58 percent of IT decision makers are using, trialling or researching AI and 29 percent plan to incorporate it into their apps by 2019.

Gradual introduction

The above figures demonstrate strong interest in AI on the part of enterprises.

At the same time, other recent studies have shown that consumers remain sceptical and general adoption of AI is still quite sluggish. Companies are yet to demonstrate to their workforce or customers that AI is capable of enabling its oft-attributed benefits. In addition, they also need to show that the benefits — if obtainable — can offset the risks to human roles that many people perceive.

McQuire, writing on the Google blog, said companies must be prepared to scale-back their AI deployment plans. If adoption is to be successful, the introduction of new tech should be completed gradually. This gives employees time to adapt to the incoming processes and concepts.

As people gain familiarity with the tech, they’re more likely to fully utilise its features and will be less fearful of potential privacy violations. The same approach should be used for consumer-facing technologies. Continuing to implement AI-based systems at breakneck pace could destabilise the machine learning industry, causing resistance amongst users still concerned about privacy considerations.

Change management & employee engagement

Successfully introducing AI technology will require enterprises to proactively manage change and inform their employees.

McQuire warned lingering fears and confusion must be properly addressed, including points that might be raised by customers.

During the transition period, companies should keep traditional alternatives to AI operational, while steering users towards the AI service and highlighting its benefits. Some types of AI service, such as automated support desks, are already benefitting from use of this strategy. The customer is allowed to make an informed choice that leaves them feeling more comfortable. Regular reminders of the benefits could eventually cause them to use and then trust the AI.

“While our surveys reveal employees are generally positive on AI, there is still much fear and confusion surrounding AI as a source of job displacement,” wrote McQuire. “Be mindful of the impact of change management, specifically the importance of good communication, training and, above all, employee engagement throughout the process.”

Companies can also try early adoption of services that use AI subtly, such as next-generation workplace collaboration tools. This helps employees to engage with AI on a regular basis and furthers the business’ transition towards new digital tech. Gradually incorporating AI allows firms to start benefitting from efficiency improvements immediately, while ensuring employees and customers don’t feel alienated or disillusioned.

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Cisco: 75% of IoT projects are failing due to lack of expertise

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Three quarters of Internet of Things device implementations are failing due to a lack of expertise, says Cisco. Businesses are struggling to find IoT talent to put their forward-thinking plans into action.

The comments come from Cisco’s Australian CTO Kevin Bloch in an interview with ZDNet. They echo other recent studies that illustrate a systemic lack of skills in managing IoT devices.

Businesses across all industries recognize the potential benefits of using modern technologies. However, In mthey’re forced to abandon or scale back their plans due to technical troubles, cybersecurity issues or a fundamentally flawed vision.

Siloed data

Bloch said flawed vision for IoT is one of the main problems for implementations. Unable to source advice or find examples of successful IoT networks, companies are launching themselves into the concept without a properly formulated plan. This leads to IoT projects that are “siloed” and oriented towards specific problems.

Companies quickly realize their IoT devices are unable to interoperate, cannot be readily maintained and aren’t achieving the original design goals. The system is left to stagnate and may be switched off. Unless data can stream between IoT stacks, the entire concept is likely to fall apart.

Unfortunately, companies often don’t consider interoperability while planning their cloud strategy.

“The inaugural phase of IoT is characterised by numerous point solutions from a multitude of new – often startup – vendors. Typically, these solutions have been designed to solve a particular societal problem such as lighting or parking,” Bloch explained. “In each case, a complete IT stack needs to be built in support of the solution. Eventually customers find themselves with multiple siloes from multiple vendors that don’t interoperate, are not cybersecure, use different protocols, and generate more complexity at greater cost.”

Finding talent

According to Cisco, businesses need to gain experience in managing and interacting with IoT devices.

What’s needed is dedicated digital team leaders, responsible for designing and implementing a cohesive strategy. However, the cross-industry demand for these individuals is making it difficult for smaller firms to access the talent they need.

Cisco’s now building a new IoT foundation platform to help businesses network their devices. It can surface insights from multiple different device families irrespective of their vendor. The platform also helps to maintain cybersecurity standards to keep the network safeguarded from attack.

Bloch warned enterprises “if you don’t secure it, don’t connect it,” noting that many IoT devices leak data due to poor design.

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Deutsche Bank open-sources code from its trading platform

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Deutsche Bank
Photo courtesy Deutsche Bank
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Deutsche Bank has released more than 150,000 lines of code from its Autobahn electronic trading platform. The company said the decision to open-source parts of the technology is intended to create a “common industry standard” for automated trading systems.

The code contains components that network “thousands” of different banking applications from across the financial services industry. It enables communication between different computer systems at banks and their customers. Called Plexus Interop, the system is part of the wider Autobahn trading platform developed by Deutsche Bank.

Cloud-based trading

The release is significant for several reasons. Deutsche Bank said it wants the code to be integrated into trading applications written by external vendors. It will offer a “shared foundation” for different trading platforms, allowing them to exchange data with each other. The result will be an interoperable, cloud-based trading network based on a common set of open-source components.

The initiative is a first for the traditionally closed financial services market. It’s a prominent example of the change being necessitated by digital transformation and new cloud platforms. Customers expect information to flow seamlessly between providers so they can harness the full potential of their data pools. The days of siloed data inside closed ecosystems are gone.

Seamless trading between platforms

If Deutsche Bank’s vision comes to fruition, trading data could seamlessly pass between different platforms. Trading platforms that include the code will talk to each other, allowing customers to get more insights from their data and make better trading decisions.

Deutsche Bank said that market participants currently have to use different services to monitor their trading activity, data and news sources. Plexus Interop offers a solution where a single platform could combine all three tasks.

The milestone release is also a step forward for Deutsche Bank’s own digital transformation. The company said it wants to be a “leader” in open-source tech within banking.

“We want to be a leader in open source technology in the banking sector,” said Peter Wharton-Hood, COO of Deutsche Bank’s Corporate & Investment Bank.

“By making this code publicly available, we aim to create a common industry standard that will deliver a faster and more convenient service to clients, strengthen controls and reduce costs.”

To many providers, the concept of releasing the code to proprietary platforms would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. However, the demand from customers for interoperable solutions has necessitated a shift towards open standards that anyone can integrate with and pull data from.

The first application to use the Plexus Interop code is Symphony, a collaboration platform that’s widely used within the financial services market. Users of the messaging service will be able to access trading data from within the app, evolving the way in which banks operate.

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