How Bots Are Changing Workplace Productivity and Collaboration

How bots are changing workplace producitvity

Artificial intelligence is all the rage right now and one of its most significant areas of impact are bots.

Bots are basically conversational software robots. Most of the time, you will find them in messaging and chat applications, but since they’re very collaborative in nature, experts predict that bots will be applied in a variety of collaboration tools in the future.

Until now, bots have proven to be extremely useful. They help businesses automate conversations and tasks, schedule meetings, pay online, or get started with an app. All that without interacting with another human being. In 2017, bots are bound to start changing our workplaces too.

Here are some essential points to show you how bots will change workplace productivity and collaboration in the near future.

Workplace Productivity & Bots

Bots have an immense potential for professional productivity because they can help employees handle their tasks without having to switch them.

Research shows that switching tasks might take away over 40% of our focus. By centralizing features within a single bot, smart employers will allow their workers to make the most of their time and minimize the cognitive load of switching tasks.

An example of a bot that impacts productivity is the Tomatobot. The Pomodoro technique helps countless workers to break up their tasks into small productive chunks and focus on achieving more within a shorter period of time. Now there’s a bot to help them do it.

The productivity bot will send timer reminders straight to your Slack channel. The user can type in what they have completed at the end of each session and the bot will show them their accomplishments within a specific period of time.

Another interesting bot is Ace. It can track tasks, polls, expenses, and more features directly within Slack.

Trello for Slack is another interesting option for transferring information between one platform and another. Instead of switching from Slack to Trello, users can update cards directly from Slack. Moreover, the bot features plenty of buttons for many popular Trello tasks to help workers get more done in a shorter time.

Communication, Collaboration, and Bots

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that bots are also being considered for their potential in facilitating internal communications between employees. In many organizations, intranet systems work as central repositories or reference systems rather than tools for interactive engagement.

Workers left without the right collaboration resources find it hard to be productive in distributed teams.

And since remote work is booming, the problem of collaboration and communication is serious. Bots might provide an answer to that need. Organizations will soon be using bots for answering short culture-related questions or helping remote workers get in touch with the right person inside the company.

For example, bots will help remote users to see all the projects another user is working on, or projects that are being developed in a different department. The bot might suggest related projects or find the document a user needs.

An example of such a bot in Slackbot. One of the best bots available on the market, Slackbot is a personal assistant that lives inside the communication platform Slack.

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Adopting social media in workplaces – Best practice approaches 2017

Adopting social media in workplaces

Adopting social media in workplaces is both an art and a science and they both go hand in hand together. For that matter, conducting business analysis also has shades of both art and science and not much relevance is given to the ‘art’ portion of it these days.Conducting Business Analysis is a mandatory precursor and a must do exercise even before we attempt to carry out and adopt enterprise tools in workplaces.

For the benefit of some of us, the IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) a much-recognized body in this field, defines Business Analysis as a ‘practice to bring in a change in an organizational context by defining the needs and recommending solutions to the stakeholders’.

Fair enough! but then in the recent years, the implementation and adoption of social media tools in organizations has brought the ‘art’ portion of business analysis to the forefront. This is not to say that logical analysis and methodological rules are no less important either.

There is much written about the logical analysis and rules of implementation.  What I attempt to write below is my natural understanding of how ‘adopting social media in workplaces’ can be taken up.From a business analysis perspective and to bring in a positive productive change and intended benefits there are three approaches to adopting social media in workplaces. They are:-

  1. The all at once together approach.
  2. Phased approach.
  3. The bottoms up approach.

There are myriad tools which run inside workplaces and not all of them have the connecting power nor the acceptance among employees, as social media tools. Once they are implemented, they become a way of life inside the organization subject to their usage and popularity among the employees. Its usage builds social capital.Having said this, there are ample opportunities for people in the HR function. 

People who work as HR Generalists, HR business analysts and OD (Organizational development) consultants can intervene and learn from these exercises. Even to the extent that they can glean for information and conduct the organizational scan, which they do regularly as part of their jobs for measuring employee satisfaction levels.

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Yochai Benkler – How the Internet’s social ties bonds us together

Yochai Benkler : Internet bonds us together

In the next few paragraphs I attempt to write about a chapter taken from the book “The wealth of Networks – How social production transforms markets and Freedom” written by Yochai Benkler.

Yochai Benkler is the professor of Entrepreneurial legal studies and Co-Director of the Berkman centre for Internet and Society at Harvard University. The book was first published in 2006. Yochai Benkler wrote about the future of the internet and how the internet is changing the society. The book is widely considered as an authority in the realm of our socially and digital networked world. The book with about 515 odd pages talks about the information economy and how we are all influenced by it and its contents stands true even after ten years since its publication.

What I attempt to do in the next few paragraphs is my own interpretation and understanding of one of the chapters in the book titled ”Social ties: Networking together’.

Yochai Benkler: The Internet’s influence on social relations is too soon to predict

Here, Yochai Benkler talks about two diagrammatically opposite views about how the Internet will affect the society and the community. The first one, which he elaborates as part of freedom and justice discourse  is that individuals will start living somewhat disconnected and arid lives.  This arid life will free us of the many worldly attachments like television and telephone and sometimes even our social relationships and make us grounded. Possible ! this effect was projected in the 1990’s. The other one was the ‘virtual communities’ where people interact, share and build a shared human communal existence.

New empirical evidence (Evidence which is hard, visible and experimented) shows that neither views will prevail. In fact it will be a mixture of the two. It is too soon to predict which way the direction of the Internet on social relations will take. It is obviously complex. Though Internet has clear effects on the human society, it will neither transcend or breakdown any particular aspect of it.

Thickening and loosening of relationships

Yochai Benkler elaborates further about the two types of effects that the Internet has on the human society. The first one is the thickening of relationships among previously not so tight relationships among friends, relatives and parents. The Internet has brought them together. Children who have moved away from their parents are now finding the Internet  a boon. They do not have to coordinate a time to talk to them or pay for long distance communication. The days of the email have changed all of that. The same is the case with long parted friends.

But this thickening of social relationships has also led to loose hierarchical relationships among their family members and friends. As individuals start connecting together again, they have weaved a their own peer relations and support networks. This will dismantle the hierarchal relationships which might have been stifling to some on their freedom to express their views and opinion.

The second one is the loosening of ties and relationships. They are the ‘loose relationships’. Many virtual communities may or may not fit into this aspect but that is the fact. This new aspect of ‘loose relationships’ might displace many of the age old, one to many communication models which exists now in the Television and Radio mass media. This old model will be replaced by a newer many to many model which encourages interactive participation and sharing of information.

The effect of Internet on everybody will not be same but the magnitude will vary among social relations and networks. Yochai Benkler agrees that the usage of the Internet and rise in the individual capabilities will not aid in social fragmentation and alienation. There stills exists the fear of disintegration.

To dissuade this fear of disintegration Howard Rheingold put it quite subtly in his now classic book of 1993  – “Virtual community“. Human beings inevitably will form a community and colonies. We have a hunger for colonies just like bacteria do. A portion of the text from the book ‘Virtual community’ is below.

‘My direct observations of online behavior around the world over the past ten years have led me to conclude that whenever CMC [computer mediated communications] technology becomes available to people anywhere, they inevitably build virtual communities with it, just as microorganisms inevitably create colonies. I suspect that one of the explanations for this phenomenon is the hunger for community that grows in the breasts of people around the world as more and more informal public spaces disappear from our real lives. I also suspect that these new media attract colonies of enthusiasts because CMC enables people to do things with each other in new ways, and to do altogether new kinds of things—just as telegraphs, telephones, and televisions did.’

Yochai Benkler goes on to say that online relationships not only restrict themselves with just being on the Internet but also forge their way to a healthy offline face to face relationships as well. Such face to face relationships are alive and kicking and exist along with the online Internet relationships.

Cheers.

 

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