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From wearable sensors to AI: The future of business technology (Includes interview and first-hand account)

John Schwarz, co-founder and CEO of Visier, is responsible for the company’s overall strategy, culture and organization development. In an earlier interview, Schwarz explained the risks of corporate toxicity in the digital age, what companies can do to address this and the services that his company can offer.

In a follow-up interview John Schwarz focuses on the most interesting technological developments for business.

Digital Journal: In the previous interview you explained how Visier Workforce Intelligence is a cloud-based business analytics solution that lets large enterprises analyse and plan their workforce. What other services does Viser offer?

John Schwarz: Visier has developed a complete solution for Workforce Intelligence which includes workforce analytics, talent acquisition analytics, learning and development analytics, benchmarking, and workforce planning.

What we are trying to do at Visier is scan across the full spectrum of employee information which exists in multiple and disconnected HR systems to find answers to questions that shape business strategy, provide the impetus for taking action, and drive better business results.

DJ: What types of technologies are shaping business today?

Schwarz: I am paying close attention to developments in both artificial intelligence and IoT technologies – both in how these technologies are impacting analytics as well as how they are shaping the larger macro-economic issues like employment and GDP.

For workforce intelligence, AI, and more specifically, deep learning technologies will make it easier to match workforce supply with demand. With deep learning, algorithms are based on data generated by several layers of machine learning. This has been proven by data scientists to be up to 17 times more accurate than other methods. As a result, more organizations will use systems that leverage deep learning to make workforce predictions. By forecasting when, how many, and which employees are likely to leave, for example, businesses will be better able to plan for hiring.

I am also observing very interesting developments in the use of IoT and workforce intelligence. One example is sociometric badges, wearable devices equipped with sensors that measure team interactions. When used as part of a larger organizational communications analysis, data gathered from sociometric badges can help businesses support the kinds of informal communication networks that lead to improved leadership, productivity and innovation.

TOPIO  a humanoid robot  played ping pong at Tokyo International Robot Exhibition (IREX) 2009.

TOPIO, a humanoid robot, played ping pong at Tokyo International Robot Exhibition (IREX) 2009.
Humanrobo (CC BY-SA 3.0)

DJ: How about artificial intelligence?

Schwarz:AI and robotics have the potential to dramatically disrupt our society. Historically, automation was focused on hard, repetitive blue collar work and farming. Indeed, it was massively successful in doing this. Today, a relatively small group of people work in farming, extraction or manufacturing industries. Most now make their living in services and professional roles.

However, with AI and robotics, virtually all managerial and professional work can be automated. This raises a very troubling question: if robotics indeed replaces all human services and AI replaces all human decisions where will future jobs come from? What will future economics looks like? Will the machines produce enough consumables and wealth for humans to take a permanent vacation? If the AI powered machines are smarter than humans, why would they want to generate support for completely unproductive humans? And if they did, is there any satisfaction or happiness to be obtained in living a life of constant leisure?

Clearly, these are existential questions. We live in an extremely exciting point in the evolution of human capabilities. Focusing on these questions will hopefully allow us to shape the use of such technologies for the betterment of the world and for a continuing opportunity for humans to strive for happiness and immortality.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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