Will the Workplace of the Future Increase Human Efficiency?

At Nintex, we spend a lot of time imagining what the workplace of the future will look like.

In a world of mobile, cloud and ever more connected data, it’s easy to assume people are bound to get more productive in future, and that they’ll be even more capable of doing their jobs. However, that’s not necessarily a given.

One study from 2013 found that professionals spend a full 13% more time looking for information than they did in 2002. Many similar studies have corroborated these findings, suggesting that the average knowledge worker spends around 20% of their time today just looking for information needed to get their jobs done.

So, when we think about the workplace of the future, the idea that things are just going to keep improving is naïve.

In fact, for many workers, the ‘information overload’ they currently experience may become even more intense: endless email chains, more repositories of content and disconnected data could become the norm.

But it doesn’t have to be like this!

At Nintex, we’ve always focused on using technology to help professionals be more productive, waste less time carrying out repeat processes and connecting people with the information they need to make decisions. We see a workplace of the future where technology supports and enhances decision making.

Let’s see how.

Connecting the Workplace of the Future

When Nintex first launched, we offered something unique: the ability to easily ensure processes were completed smoothly and efficiently.

Over the years, we’ve grown to be the world’s leading workflow automation provider, and we’ve expanded away from a pure SharePoint focus to connecting different services with our workflow cloud and Drawloop document generation.

The logic underpinning all our evolution as a company is to help make life easier for end users of technology and boost their productivity.

And, with today’s advanced analytics technology, we’re developing an even more exciting vision for the workplace of the future.

Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace of the Future

There’s a huge debate about whether so-called artificial intelligence (AI) will take people’s jobs, or whether we should welcome automation as a means of improving and enhancing what humans can do. We definitely fall on the optimistic side of the argument.

Rather than fearing a future where computers replace humans, we see one where Big Data analysis and pattern matching technologies (often confused with AI) will help people make better decisions so they can do their jobs better.

Let’s explore some of the ways Nintex might support this:

Making Better Decisions

One area that we see Nintex using AI is in the area of decision making.

Despite the enormous quantities of data we produce every day, so many of today’s workers still make decisions on a very limited number of metrics, and this means so much decision making is based on gut feeling and misconception.

For example, think of the annual employee review.

Line managers often have to make their decisions on a colleague’s performance based on a very limited number of metrics. But what if a workflow could be designed to scour your workplace systems to get a better idea of what that employee has really been doing in the last 12 months?

Triggered when you have an annual review coming up in your diary, Nintex could tell you:

  • How many documents the employee has created, as well as how many comments and edits they make on other employees’ work.
  • The number of vacation and sick days they have taken.
  • Their activity on your system—do they log in at 9.05am every day and log out at 4.55pm, or do they stay late more than you realized and log in at the weekend?

A workflow could automatically collect all this information for you, and present it in an easy to understand chart.

Analyzing Communications Flows

We also envision a workplace of the future where Nintex workflows can autonomously monitor patterns in your communications systems.

If, for instance, certain employees seem to send around a document to team members once per month, Nintex could use AI to predict that this is some sort of monthly report that needs approval.

So, what if it could suggest a workflow for your users, which would ensure the whole process is more streamlined? By predicting what your employees are doing and helping them work more efficiently, AI-enhanced workflows could dramatically speed up processes.

Designing Workflows with Natural Language

Natural language processing is one of the most exciting areas of ‘AI’, and many existing consumer tools—such as Amazon’s Alexa—already able to turn natural language commands (“turn out the lights upstairs”) into workflows.

Taking this logic into the workplace and going further, we see exciting possibilities for how workflows could make people more productive.

For instance: Want to set a reminder for all members of your team to register for an event?

We envision a future for Nintex where users could simply describe what they want their personal assistant to do and this could be transformed into a sophisticated workflow, bringing those colleagues all the information they need to sign up to the event, and then emailing you to let you know that everyone has signed up.

Envisioning the Workplace of the Future

While technology has supported a huge rise in our access to information and introduced huge potential improvements in productivity, it has often worked in a way that can be counterproductive. People spend hours searching for the information they need to make decisions and, cumulatively, all this time spent searching is time wasted.

However, at Nintex, we’re excited about the potential for advanced ‘artificial intelligence’ tools that can support decision making and help people become more productive.

Underpinning any such tool is a workflow, and so we’re even more excited by the potential ways that Nintex can support these innovations.

 

Ready to start on your journey to the workplace of the future? Contact us today.

Ryan Duguid

Chief Evangelist Ryan Duguid is responsible for setting product and platform vision, driving continuous innovation, and delivering technology to help everyday people solve their process problems. Ryan joined Nintex from Microsoft, where he was responsible for the content management business in the SharePoint Product Group.
Follow him on Twitter @PvtRD