SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Tom Nolle
Tom Nolle is the president and founder of CIMI Corporation and the principal consultant/analyst. Tom started his career as a...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Tom Nolle | September 14, 2016 |

 
   

The Shape of Productivity to Come

The Shape of Productivity to Come This final piece in a three-part series charts two courses for productivity evolution.

This final piece in a three-part series charts two courses for productivity evolution.

As I've stated in my earlier pieces in this series, we want to make IT more important in the future. However, just linking IT spending to worker productivity doesn't fully address our goal.

We can find as many productivity futures as we can workers, or at least classes of workers. Today, for example, only about a quarter of workers have any significant information content in their jobs, and only about 15% of workers "collaborate" to any significant degree. The people who study how workers actually do their jobs have suggested that at least two thirds of workers could be empowered by IT, and that collaboration could extend to about a third of all workers. That means that we can really chart two courses for productivity evolution -- one that targets broader empowerment and the other that induces broader and more efficient collaboration.

The broader collaboration path seems to lead through the integration of social media concepts with team and project management activity. Nearly every worker today has some experience with social media, and this has created a new kind of skill set, like skill in writing or verbal communication, ready for exploiting in productivity projects. If everyone collaborates socially via social media, why not collaborate likewise in business? But that's not enough; social media should be applied to goal, like deepening or broadening collaboration.

The "deepen" model seems to be the goal of Cisco's Spark, as well as earlier initiatives like Basecamp or Google Wave. A social media site can be a point of information exchange, the place where everyone comes to contribute and access information either in store-and-retain or interactive form. Companies have had success with this approach, but typically with fewer than half of the target workers. The number of interactions you miss is far greater than the number of workers missed, and so the "deep" approach never seems to reach critical mass. More breadth is needed.

portable

This seems to be what Microsoft has in mind with its acquisition of LinkedIn. Very few people use LinkedIn for team collaboration; arguably it doesn't even have the necessary capabilities. What it does have is scope; most professionals are on it. That means that collaborative relationships inside a company or between companies will often be between current LinkedIn users. The community is in place, awaiting only the tools.

It would be easy to make the Group facility of LinkedIn into a "Team" facility, providing a message-board element of collaboration. Adding in real-time IM and calling (through Skype for Business) would be fairly easy since you can already record contact data in LinkedIn. Note that sans the features of a Spark or Basecamp, the "Skype Teams" team messaging app Microsoft reportedly is developing wouldn't be enough. If a Team could be given cloud storage for files, with version management, you'd have a social-based platform with all the tools of Spark, Basecamp, or Wave, but with a huge in-place community.

But if two thirds of workers could be empowered by IT, even getting all of the one third that could be made collaborative still leaves a third of all workers out in the information darkness. What do you need to do to bring them on board? Remember, they're not collaboration candidates.

Work practice studies show, not surprisingly, that the big problem with empowering the additional third of workers is that their jobs aren't done through computers and networks today. You could argue that a worker who's putting tires on a car or cooking burgers could be empowered, but the problem is that the worker would be burdened just with the task of keeping the IT applications up to date on what they were doing. This is where "contextual" support comes in, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

If IoT is about sensors and controllers everywhere, then IoT processes could be made to do a lot of work without human supervision. That alone would increase productivity, but it seems unlikely that complete automation of tire installation or burger-flipping is in the cards, near term. The impact of IoT is more likely to come from learning things about the worker, which reduces what the worker has to tell an application to get meaningful support.

If a worker's position, whether detected by near-field communications (NFC) or GPS, is proximate to a broken pipe and the worker is a plumbing expert, a reasonable inference is that the worker is there to fix the pipe. Furthermore, if there's a work order in the system to that effect, then you have enough information to "tell" the worker how to find the break. You'd also know whether the pipe was leaking water or some noxious chemical, and advise accordingly. Most important, all of this could be done without the worker having to take time to input information -- time that would have to be made up by any productivity application before you'd even break even.

We can imagine a future where workers equipped with mobile broadband and NFC moves through a fabric of sensors and controllers that tell the workers things and do things on their behalves -- things more profound than automatically opening doors. The problem lies in getting that fabric in place.

Fortunately, one attribute of our un-empowered third of workers is that they tend to stay within facility boundaries, so companies could address IoT goals on an intra-company scale rather than waiting for the whole world to advance to IoT, if it does. Factory processes seem particularly promising, and companies like GE Digital are addressing this space with its cloud-based Predix IoT platform.

None of this is going to be easy, and we shouldn't expect it to be. Radical improvements come only from radical changes, and businesses themselves will have to marshal the political support needed to bring revolutionary solutions into play. The best technology strategy, absent adoption, will always fall short, and the industry can't afford to leave productivity gains on the table if it wants to continue to grow.

Read the earlier posts in this series:

Follow Tom Nolle on Google+!
Tom Nolle on Google+





COMMENTS




April 25, 2018

Yesterdays simple phone call to a contact center or business location is rapidly becoming todays interactive session, spanning multiple channels and devices. If you need to know how Omnichannel can

March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.