men from two generations playing chess
PHOTO: Crown Agency

Intelligent applications are on the rise in the modern workplace. According to MarketsandMarkets, the intelligent apps market size was just over $7 billion in 2017. By 2023, the size of that market is expected to exponentially expand to about $47 billion — an average annual growth rate of more than 30%.

What is fueling the phenomenal adoption rate of intelligent applications? Productivity and efficiency. Intelligent applications allow enterprises to enjoy unprecedented levels of each. A few examples of what they do:

  • Facilitate extraordinary levels of information-sharing throughout an organization for virtually any form or classification of data (sales figures and educational materials are two common examples).
  • Deliver the most current and accurate information to all enterprise associates in need of that data by using the pull model of information dissemination (as opposed to the push model, where information is sent only to a pre-designated group of people).
  • Leverage the technology of cloud-based platforms to streamline the sharing of information in a distributed environment.
  • Enable unprecedented levels of workplace efficiency by making it possible to discard less efficient methods of sharing that are dependent on human interactions (phone calls, meetings, etc.).

Given the promises of enhanced efficiency, easier access and increased productivity, it would be logical to assume employees worldwide are ecstatic about the astounding proliferation of intelligent apps.

Except they’re not.

Garbage In, Garbage Out Is Eternal

In a previous article I discussed some of the common challenges that can arise in the course of an organization’s efforts to digitally transform. Examples include when employees don’t know where to look for an application, or when they have problems with non-intuitive user interfaces.

Intelligent applications can add to those headaches when the data used to fuel the apps are flawed. The eternal principle of Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO) has been with us since the dawn of the information age, and is just as relevant as ever in the era of intelligent applications. When the data that intelligent applications use is not up to date, is drawn from unreliable sources or is not organized in a way that facilitates an accurate representation, problems can (and will!) arise.

The end result of these problems is people become less likely to trust the intelligent applications they are becoming ever-more dependent upon. This mistrust has been reflected in some verbatim snippets of conversations I’ve recently had with frustrated users:

  • “The data I entered is squeaky clean!”
  • “Unfortunately, I’ve dealt with bad [platform] usage and data most of my career. Companies invest these huge sums of money into the platform and then they use it very poorly.”
  • “Oh, yeah, I haven’t updated that recently. Let me put that on my to-do list.”

The unfortunate consequence of these problems and the user attitudes that result is the direct opposite of the potential that intelligent applications offer. Instead of gaining efficiency, time is wasted and productivity diminished. And — perhaps the most negative consequence — people are less inclined to use the system again.

Related Article: The Intelligent Digital Workplace Is Already Here

Maximizing the Benefits of Intelligent Applications

Fortunately, the problems noted above are not inevitable. You can counter them through the three following actions:

  1. Lead by example: It has been said that the best leadership occurs through example. Organizational leaders can leverage the power of setting positive examples to help accelerate the acceptance and use of intelligent applications. Team leads should use the systems and be proactive in keeping the information within their realm updated. And it’s important to note that through the power of setting a positive example, anyone can be a team lead, regardless of seniority level or position. Remember, too, that the power of example also applies to setting a negative example. Leaders who are lax in their use of systems or data updates will influence others to be the same. 
  2. Company-wide campaigns: Executive leadership should be proactive in spreading the word about the need to use new systems and apps as they are adopted, along with the benefits of doing so. Posters, emails and organization-wide announcements are all great ways to drive awareness. And organizing webinars and tutorials can be immensely helpful in boosting comfort levels with the new systems.
  3. Data cleansing: As the GIGO principal dictates, the better the quality of your data, the better the results. So, though the effort required may be substantial, it is worth mounting an enterprise-wide program to update and cleanse data. And be sure to publicize the data-cleansing program. Doing so can help restore faltering confidence in the integrity of your organization’s data.

Related Article: What Data Will You Feed Your Artificial Intelligence?

Give Your Intelligent Apps a Little Boost

The rise of intelligent applications and platforms in the workplace is a good thing. The potential benefits far eclipse any short-term roadblocks encountered during the transition to these systems. But the opportunity offered by the advent of intelligent apps is much like any other opportunity: it is what you make of it. And making the most of intelligent apps is the responsibility not only of the organization as a whole, but also of each individual user.

Think of each system as community property. Though some committee may be in charge of the system overall, everyone can contribute by keeping their little corner of the system clean and tidy so that everyone can enjoy it. Put that degree of effort into the deployment and maintenance of your intelligent applications, and prepare to be astounded by the results.