innovation The Future of Work

How AI and Machine Learning will Impact the Digital Workplace

Sarah Wilson July 28, 2020

7 MIN READ

Many organizations had little choice but to accelerate both planned and unplanned digital transformations to cope with the impact of COVID-19 since it swept across the globe at an unprecedented rate in early 2020. With learnings and lessons aplenty emerging from this recent crisis, it’s important that executives and leaders reflect and regroup to ascertain if the critical technology gaps that were plugged during the onslaught of the crisis, are in fact the right tools and technology to provide future technological advances and organizational gains.

With this in mind, we have taken this opportunity to dive into the trenches to understand the latest developments and trends that help to create a truly digital workplace that will serve your organization now and long into the future.

The Future of Work: How AI and Machine Learning will Impact the Digital Workplace

Workplaces are bombarded by technological platforms that promise to enhance and future-proof the organization. With the sheer volume of technologies available, it can be challenging for organizations to separate the wood from the trees and therefore difficult for leadership teams to ascertain what technology will help, hinder or have little to no impact. That’s why we’ve selected 3 key organizational challenges that come up time and time again in our discussions with business leaders, to explore if technology can help solve these challenges. 

Before we get into that, let’s take a glimpse into the latest technology, pushing the boundaries of the digital workplace that we know (and love?) today.

AI & Machine Learning - the future of the digital workplace

Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) the Key to a Digital Workplace?

The concept of artificial intelligence has been around for quite some time, with instances of classical philosophers trying to describe the very concept many moons ago. But the name ‘Artificial Intelligence’ didn’t exist until Alan Turing coined the term in the 1950’s. Since then, AI has come a long way, weaving its way into many areas of our lives, including the workplace.

AI is creeping into many facets of the digital workplace, in particular data analytics. AI is exceptional at analyzing large volumes of unstructured data to drive meaningful analysis, much faster than humans can. AI can also be applied to analyze the effectiveness of a digital workplace platform, as it can quickly evaluate data such as usage statistics and engagement levels, which can fuel improvements and provide great insights into overall digital workplace effectiveness. 

Many people outside of the technology industry view artificial intelligence and cognitive computing as interchangeable terms but in fact, they are quite different. The differences are important to understand to determine which, if any, are applicable when trying to solve a particular workplace challenge. 

Cognitive computing focuses on mimicking human behavior and reasoning to solve complex problems. While artificial intelligence augments human thinking to solve complex problems based on the best possible algorithm.

According to McKinsey, partial automation will become more common in the workplace, with AI complementing human labor rather than totally replacing it. In such cases where humans are replaced by automation, it’s not always a negative. Take the example of how Amazon has retrained staff who previously stacked shelves, to become robot operators!

What exactly is Machine Learning and How can it be Applied to the Digital Workplace?

Machine learning is a subset of AI, and according to MIT Technology Review, “Machine-learning algorithms use statistics to find patterns in massive amounts of data. And data, here, encompasses a lot of things—numbers, words, images, clicks, what have you. If it can be digitally stored, it can be fed into a machine-learning algorithm.” 

Take for example Spotify and Netflix. Both of these organizations utilize machine learning to present content based on your previous activity, providing curated suggestions such as “Made for You” playlists on Spotify and “Recommended for You” movies and TV shows on Netflix.

When we apply this logic to the digital workplace, we can see how machine learning can surface content and curate recommendations, such as news, search results and documents, based on previous user activity which, if done correctly, can help save employee time and enhance overall workplace productivity.

How Does Microsoft Teams Stack Up as a Tool for Taking Workplaces to the Future?

Microsoft Teams has grown leaps and bounds since it was first released by Microsoft in early 2017. MS Teams is an ever-evolving digital workplace solution that facilitates the trifecta of collaboration, communication and engagement. Employees find the modern interface friendly and easy to use, plus there’s the added benefit of seamlessly scheduling meetings, accessing files and live collaborating with teammates, with everyone seamlessly working on the one file at the same time. It’s goodbye to the nightmare that is document version tracking and hello to the joys of true team collaboration. 

Microsoft Teams is charging ahead to the forefront of the digital workplace arena and it’s exciting to see the pace at which Microsoft continues to invest in MS Teams to evolve its capabilities as new features and technologies become available.

Digital Workplace - MS Teams on Mobile & Desktop
Image: Mobile and Desktop Microsoft Teams for Digital Workplace

Can Digital Workplace Technology Help to Solve Key Organizational Challenges?

Many organizations strive to enable employee collaboration, drive employee engagement and foster an authentic corporate culture. With an overwhelming amount of enterprise technology solutions available in the market, it can be difficult for leadership teams to assess and dissect exactly how digital workplace technology can help solve organizational challenges both now and long into the future.

Without further ado, let’s look into three challenging organizational areas to determine if and how technology can be used to help overcome: 

  1. Poor employee collaboration
  2. Low levels of employee engagement
  3. Ineffective organizational culture 

1. What’s the Best Technology for Driving Collaboration Across the Workplace?

There’s an array of enterprise collaboration tools that promise the crowning glory in workplace collaboration; from Slack to MS Teams to Google Hangouts and Airtable, the options are abundant. While all of these are enterprise technologies that have the ability to drive collaboration, there are stark differences between them all.

Google hangouts provides users with a reliable instant messaging platform along with the ability to quick make video calls directly from within a chat window. Both file sharing and search are facilitated through the Gmail search bar. Google hangouts provides basic collaboration capabilities that work well for small businesses. 

Slack is another option for sharing company-wide updates, files and direct messages with teammates. For these purposes, it is relatively good, but the search capabilities are somewhat limited. Slack is typically used as a standalone platform within an organization and users typically navigate to separate applications for tasks such as sending an email, scheduling a meeting and accessing documents. 

When we think of collaboration at a larger enterprise, MS Teams comes up trumps, especially if your organization already has Microsoft 365, as MS Teams comes with the following Office 365 licenses:

  • Business Essentials
  • Business Premium
  • Enterprise E1, E3, or E5
  • Enterprise E4 (for anyone who purchased this plan prior to its retirement)

MS Teams is a turnkey solution in that users can send direct messages, group chat, video call, schedule a meeting and access files all within the same application. Now if that isn’t seamless collaboration, we don’t know what is!

2. How Can Technology Help Organizations Engage Employees, Now and in the Future?

In a study by Gallup, teams who score in the top 20% in employee engagement realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism, and 59% less turnover. So, it’s no surprise that an engaged workforce is the holy grail to many organizations. Now that we understand the value of having an engaged workforce, how can we cultivate this?

Technology can play a huge role in harnessing employee engagement. Take the Communities Yammer App in MS Teams, for example, organizations can seamlessly share photos, news and announcements with the ability to pin important updates to the top of the page to encourage engagement with the most important messages. The Yammer App in MS Teams also enables organizations to conduct polls and solicit opinions. Organizations with Microsoft 365 E1, E3 or E5 subscriptions or equivalent, can use Video broadcasts supported within the App by the MS Stream video service, to engage employees.

Engaging employees across a disparate workforce is possible thanks to technology. Technology is the secret sauce for generating meaningful engagement. Managers and leadership teams need to lead by example in this regard and pave the way for employees to engage. When employees see management interacting with news updates and sharing information across the organization, they are much more likely to get involved. 

There has been an increasing trend towards remote working, even long before COVID reared its ugly head, and technology holds the key to engaging your entire workforce regardless of where everyone is physically located. Providing employees with the ability to like and comment on the latest news and updates can go a long way in engaging staff and helping employees feel connected to the organization, stripping down geographical barriers.

3. What Technology Can Organizations Embrace to Foster an Authentic Corporate Culture?

Corporate culture is a reflection of your organizational values, goals and beliefs. Authenticity, repetition and communication are important factors when trying to shift or enhance an existing subpar corporate culture. If you want to truly foster corporate culture at your workplace, technology is a great place to start.

Building a great corporate culture is a two-way street, so the technology you choose ought to facilitate two-way communications. Both management teams and employees have an important role to play when it comes to organizational culture. Staff need to feel as though they are appreciated and listened too. There are many types of technology (with varying degrees of reliability) to consider when an organization is looking to shape its culture, from email to a digital workplace to collaboration and communication platforms. 

Technology such as MS Teams and Slack can enable management to demonstrate their appreciation for employees and share updates and news that reflect the organization’s values to solidify these morals across the workplace. Ideally, an organization chooses one robust technology to help mold a great culture while also providing the added benefits to facilitate collaboration and engagement. 

Take Slack for example. While it’s a great tool for instant messaging and quick communications, it is quite lacking on the collaboration side. Sure, you can send files but there is no version management or true collaboration capabilities like those provided with MS Teams, whereby multiple people can work on the same document at the same time.

Digital Workplace Example - MS Teams Collaboration

Collaboration, Engagement & Culture: What Comes Next?

Improving talent acquisition and the onboarding experience are important goals for most HR leaders. These encounters, while they occur in the early days of an employee’s tenure, can have a huge impact on employee productivity and loyalty to an organization. The idiom: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” comes to mind. So how can technology improve an employee’s introduction to your organization? A one-stop technology platform for collaboration, engagement and culture is a great start.

But, with so much choice and a wealth of options available in the market, how can organizations truly identify the must-haves from the nice to haves to future-proof their digital workplace? 

That’s where Orchestry comes in! We deliver expert insights, best practices and practical information, from Microsoft MVPs and Microsoft 365 experts, to take the guesswork out of which tools and technology are best to adopt and use for maximum impact at your organization. 

Orchestry makes work simple in Office 365, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Online Sites by empowering your IT Administrators and employees to define a winning Microsoft 365 adoption and change management strategy, with a roadmap of what to use when, for what purpose. Orchestry increases usage and adoption while empowering through governance and simplifies through intelligent provisioning in Microsoft 365, organization-wide at a fraction of the cost, on a subscription basis.

To see Orchestry in action, send us an email at hello@orchestry.com or start your free access now!

About the Author

Sarah Wilson Image

Sarah Wilson

Orchestry CTO, Microsoft 365 Expert

Office 365 Solutions Architect, Sitecore CMS Developer and Microsoft SharePoint Applications Developer, this Chief Technology Officer and Solutions Architect has been building and simplifying Office 365 applications for more than a decade. Orchestry relies on Wilson’s vision and technical aptitude to enable clients to maximize their investment in Microsoft 365 while achieving ultimate efficiency.

Far beyond the confines of the office, Wilson unplugs and heads off the grid to enjoy the many beautiful provincial and federal parks in Ontario and Quebec with her wife, while also enjoying a good stay-cation conquering the latest levels on Terraria, Stardew Valley and Sky Force.

Introduction

This Privacy Policy explains what information Orchestry Software Inc. and its associated entities (collectively “Orchestry”) collect about you, why, what we do with that information, how we share it and how we handle the content you place in our products and services. It also explains the choices available to you regarding our use of your personal information and how you can access and update this information.

Privacy Policy Scope

Our Privacy Policy applies to the information we collect when you use one of our services, or when you otherwise engage with Orchestry Software, including, but not limited to:
when you visit our websites (“Websites“);
when you contact us for assistance;
when we connect with you as a prospective customer or as a customer;
when you attend customer or prospective customer events;
when you meet us at third party events, gatherings or meetups.
Orchestry is committed to protecting your privacy. This Privacy Policy applies to our websites (Websites), including www.orchestry.com, www.success.orchestry.com and www.app-dev.orchestry.com, owned and controlled by Orchestry.

This Privacy Policy governs our data collection, processing and usage practices. It also describes your choices regarding use, access and correction of your personal information. By using the Websites, you consent to the data practices described in this Privacy Policy. If you do not agree with the data practices described in this Privacy Policy, you should not use the Websites.

Information We Collect

We collect personal data that you submit to us via our website or third-party tools including, for example, when applying for a job via our website or requesting support in relation to one of our services.
You are free to explore the Websites without providing any Personal Information about yourself. When you visit the Websites, we request that you provide Personal Information about yourself, and we collect Navigational Information.

Information Collection & Access

Orchestry acknowledges that you have the right to access your Personal Information. If requested to remove data we will respond within a reasonable timeframe.

We may transfer Personal Information to companies that help us provide our service, such as those organizations as part of our Global Partner Alliance. Transfers to subsequent third parties for the sole purpose of responding to requests from Websites in the appropriate geography service territory.

“Personal Information”
This refers to any information that you voluntarily submit to us and that identifies you personally, including contact information, such as your name, e-mail address, company name, address, phone number, and other information about yourself or your business. Personal Information can also include information that you enter into on the Websites, and information about you that is available on the internet, such as from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google, or publicly available information that we acquire from service providers.

“Navigational Information”
This refers to information about your computer and your visits to this website such as your IP address, geographical location, browser type, referral source, length of visit and pages viewed.

We use Navigational Information to operate and improve the Websites. We may also use Navigational Information alone or in combination with Personal Information to provide you with personalized information about Orchestry.

Information About Children

The Websites are not intended for or targeted at children under 13, and we do not knowingly or intentionally collect information about children under 13. If you believe that we have collected information about a child under 13, please contact us at hello@orchestry.com, so that we may delete the information.

Information Usage

We use the information we collect only in compliance with this Privacy Policy.

In addition to the uses identified elsewhere in this Privacy Policy, we may use your Personal Information to: (a) improve your browsing experience by personalizing the Websites; (b) send information to you which we think may be of interest to you by post, email, or other means; (c) send you marketing communications relating to our business.

We will never sell your Personal Information to any third party. However, we may share or disclose your Personal Information as follows:
we may provide your information to our business partners, vendors or service providers who perform functions on our behalf;
in connection with, or during negotiations of, any merger, sale of company assets, financing, or acquisition of all or a portion of our business to another company;
as required by law, government officials, or other third parties pursuant to a subpoena, court order, or other legal process or requirement applicable to our Company;
when we believe, in our sole discretion, that the disclosure of personal information is necessary to prevent physical harm or financial loss;
to report suspected illegal activity or to investigate violations of our agreements.

Reviewing, Correcting and Removing Your Personal Information
Upon request, Orchestry will provide you with information about whether we hold any of your Personal Information. If you provide us with your Personal Information, you have the following rights with respect to that information:
To review the user information that you have supplied to us.
To request that we correct any errors, outdated information, or omissions in user information that you have supplied to us.
To request that your user information not be used to contact you.
To request that your user information be removed from any solicitation list that we use.
To request that your user information be deleted from our records.
To opt out of being solicited by Orchestry or third parties.

To exercise any of these rights, please contact us at hello@orchestry.com or by mail to Orchestry Software Inc., 422 Richards St, Suite 170, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Z4, Attn: Privacy. We will respond to your request to change, correct, or delete your information within a reasonable timeframe and notify you of the action we have taken.

Retention of Personal Information

We retain Personal Information that you provide us as long as we consider it potentially useful in contacting you our services, or as needed to comply with our legal obligations, resolve disputes and enforce our agreements, and then we securely delete the information. We will delete this information from the servers at an earlier date if you so request, as described in “Unsubscribe from Communication” below.

Customer Testimonials and Comments

We post customer testimonials and comments on our Websites, which may contain Personal Information. We obtain each customer’s consent via email prior to posting the customer’s name and testimonial.

Security of your Personal Information

We use a variety of security technologies and procedures to help protect your Personal Information from unauthorized access, use or disclosure. We secure the Personal Information you provide on computer servers in a controlled, secure environment, protected from unauthorized access, use or disclosure.

Social Media Features

Our Websites include Social Media Features, such as the Facebook Like button and Widgets, such as the Share This button or interactive mini-programs that run on our sites. These features may collect your IP address, which page you are visiting on our sites, and may set a cookie to enable the feature to function properly. Social Media Features and Widgets are either hosted by a third party or hosted directly on our Websites. This Privacy Policy does not apply to these features.  Your interactions with these features are governed by the privacy policy and other policies of the companies providing them.

External Websites

Our Websites provide links to other websites. We do not control, and are not responsible for, the content or practices of these other websites. Our provision of such links does not constitute our endorsement of these other websites, their content, their owners, or their practices. This Privacy Policy does not apply to these other websites, which are subject to any privacy and other policies they may have.

Public Forums

We offer publicly accessible blogs, message boards and community forums. Please keep in mind that if you directly disclose any information through our public message boards, blogs, or forums, this information may be collected and used by others. We will correct or delete any information you have posted on the Websites if you so request, as described in “Opting Out and Unsubscribing” below.

International Transfer of Information

To facilitate our global operations, we may transfer and access Personal Information from around the world, including the United States. This Privacy Policy shall apply even if we transfer Personal Information to other countries.

Corporate Events

If we (or our assets) are acquired by another company, whether by merger, acquisition, bankruptcy or otherwise, that company would receive all information gathered by Orchestry on the Websites. In this event, you will be notified via email and/or a prominent notice on our website, of any change in ownership, uses of your Personal Information, and choices you may have regarding your Personal Information.

Cookies & Similar Technologies

Orchestry uses cookies or similar technologies to analyze trends, administer the website, track users’ movements around the website, and to gather demographic information about our user base as a whole.

The cookies we use on this website are broadly grouped into the following categories:

Essential: Some of the cookies on our website are essential for us to be able to provide you with a service you have requested. You may not be able to use our website effectively without these cookies.
Analytics: We use analytics cookies to help us understand how users engage with our website. An example of this is for counting the number of different people coming to our website, visiting a particular page or using a particular feature. Without this cookie, if you visited the website once each week for three weeks, we would count you as three separate users and this wouldn’t be a true representation. These cookies do not let us identify specific users as the information is aggregated.
Social sharing: We use cookies to allow you to share content directly to your social networking sites for example Facebook, Twitter and Google+ i.e. clicking Like on Facebook and Share on Twitter.
Interest-based advertising: You may have noticed that when you visit websites, you will be shown advertisements for products and services you may be interested in. Cookie information about certain pages you have visited on our website helps us be more relevant in our advertising. Having these cookies does not increase the number of adverts you will be shown on these specific sites. These ‘persistent’ cookies last no longer than 90 days, or until you clear them. These and the other cookies we use do NOT allow us to see what other sites you have been visiting, they simply act as a record of our web pages and advertisements that you may see.
Opt Out of Cookies
When you first visited the websites you will have been shown a status bar notifying you that this website uses cookies and inviting you to review this cookie policy. Once you have clicked to go further into our website, the cookie prompt will disappear, this confirms that you consent to us using the cookies detailed in this policy.
Please note that we can’t always control third party cookies (such as from social networks) stored on your machine from our website and where this is the case you will need to visit the relevant third party’s website directly to understand their cookies stored on your machine by them. Please see our ‘third party cookies’ section below.
If you want to reject cookies we use from this website you will need to:
Delete the cookies from your browser. Most browsers also allow you to prevent all or some cookies being stored on your machine in the future. For more information on how to delete or disable cookies from your browser please use the ‘help’ function within your browser, or alternatively visit www.allaboutcookies.org. By deleting our cookie preference cookie, the next time you visit our website the cookie status bar will appear again inviting you to again reconsider your preferences.
AND/OR: If you only want to reject the Internet Based Advertising cookies we store on your machine, you can opt-out of receiving these cookies at any time by going to the Internet Advertising Bureau website at http://www.youronlinechoices.com and following the opt-out instructions.
Please do be aware that disabling cookies may impact the functionality of this website.
Third Party Cookies
Some of the cookies described above are stored on your machine by third parties when you use our website. We have no control over these cookies of how the third party uses them. They are used to allow that third party to provide a service to us, for example website analytics. For more information on these cookies and how to disable them, please see:
Internet Advertising Bureau website at http://www.youronlinechoices.com/ where you will be able to opt-out of receiving Internet Based Advertising cookies from some of the third parties, such as Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
The use of cookies and web beacons by any tracking utility company is not covered by our Privacy Policy.

Log Files

We may collect demographic information, such as your region, preferences, interests and favorites using log files that are not associated with your name or other personal information. There is also information about your computer hardware and software that is automatically collected by us. This information can include: your IP address, browser type, domain names, internet service provider (ISP), the files viewed on our site (e.g., HTML pages, graphics, etc.), operating system, clickstream data, access times and referring website addresses. This information is used by Orchestry to provide general statistics regarding use of the Websites. For these purposes, we do link this automatically-collected data to Personal Information such as name, email address, address, and phone number.

Clear Gifs (Web Beacons/Web Bugs)

We employ a software technology called clear gifs (a.k.a. Web Beacons/Web Bugs), that help us better manage the Website by informing us what content is effective. Clear gifs are tiny graphics with a unique identifier, similar in function to cookies, and are used to track the online movements of Web users.  In contrast to cookies, which are stored on a user’s computer hard drive, clear gifs are embedded invisibly on Web pages or in emails and are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. We use clear gifs in our HTML-based emails to let us know which emails have been opened by recipients.  This allows us to gauge the effectiveness of certain communications and the effectiveness of our marketing campaigns. We tie the information gathered by clear gifs in emails to our customers’ Personal Information. If you would like to opt-out of these emails, please see “Opting Out and Unsubscribing”.

Advertising

We partner with a third-party ad network to either display advertising on our Web site or to manage our advertising on other sites. Our ad network partner uses cookies and Web beacons to collect non-personal information about your activities on this and other Web sites to provide you targeted advertising based upon your interests.  If you wish to not have this information used for the purpose of serving you targeted ads, you may opt-out by clicking here: http://preferences.truste.com/ (or if located in the European Union, by clicking here: http://www.youronlinechoices.eu/). Please note this does not opt you out of being served advertising.  You will continue to receive generic ads.

Unsubscribe from Communications

You may unsubscribe from our marketing communications by clicking on the “unsubscribe” link located on the bottom of our e-mails, or by sending us email us at hello@orchestry.com or by mail to Orchestry Software Inc., 422 Richards St, Suite 170, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Z4, Attn: Privacy.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy or our treatment of the information you provide us, please write to us by email at hello@orchestry.com or by mail to Orchestry Software Inc., 422 Richards St, Suite 170, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Z4, Attn: Privacy.

Changes

We may amend this Privacy Policy from time to time. When there are changes to this Privacy Policy, we will update this page. The date on the bottom will always indicate when we last made changes.
Last Updated: July 28, 2020

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