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If you’ve always been nervous about putting confidential information, or even criticisms of company policy or workplace leaders in writing, then a recent post from the Freedom of The Press Foundation is just going to confirm what you already suspected, notably that Google G Suite components are not entirely private.

In fact, according to the blog post, documents within your G Suite domain are not end-to-end encrypted, meaning that Google has everything it needs to read your data. This insight into user data means that US agencies can compel Google to hand over relevant user data to aid in investigations. Nor are these just the thoughts of conspiracy theorists, of which there are many, on the reach of big tech and the power they offer digital workplace managers to monitor their employees. They are, instead, the findings of Martin Shelton, the principal researcher at the Freedom of the Press Foundation, who as a UX researcher previously worked with Google Chrome, and the Coral Project at the New York Times.

He pointed out that depending on the version of G Suite your company uses, your employer has access to practically everything you do on the platform. The how’s and why’s of this are explained in detail in the blog post, and it is impressive. To sum it up Shelton writes, "There are several versions of G Suite, but G Suite has three core versions of its service, G Suite Basic, G Suite Business, and G Suite Enterprise, each tier offering more storage capacity, as well as more tools for storing and analyzing an organization’s user data."

In general, he explains, G Suite Enterprise offers administrators the greatest transparency into users’ Google activities, followed by G Suite Business. Finally, G Suite Basic offers the fewest monitoring capabilities.

More to the point, Shelton adds, and worth keeping in mind is that while G Suite can be configured to comply with dozens of standards for storing sensitive data (e.g., HIPAA for protected health information) these protections do not promise end-to-end encryption, meaning that your data is usually still stored in a format legible to the company.

Google for its part, he writes, said in their security documentation that they constrain the number of employees who have access, log employee access to user data, and conduct both internal and external audits on employee access. Employees caught abusing their access would likely be fired and may face legal action.

It could be reasonably argued that none of this should be a problem if a) employees are not compromising confidential data, accidentally or deliberately or b) employees are not conducting unreasonable amounts of private business in their workplace. Maybe in an ideal world this would be the case, but workers should not be surprised that their use of G Suite in the workplace is being monitored. Clearly, if you are not doing anything wrong then there is nothing to worry about.

The Impact of Hidden Data

One of the other big issues in the digital workplace now is data and how to find it and how to use it. Finding it, for obvious reasons, is the most important issue of all and failure to do so can impact productivity badly.

According to a new study released last week, 57 percent of employees in the US can’t find the information they need in order to be productive at work. In addition, 49 percent of employees revealed that they spend between 30 minutes and 2 hours daily tracking down the information needed to successfully do their jobs. The Workplace Productivity and Knowledge Management Survey, sponsored by San Jose, Calif.-based 8x8, which develops a unified communications platform, polled more than 2,000 workers in the US, specifically across mid-market and enterprise organization to better understand challenges employees face while navigating the omnichannel, digital workforce. Among the findings were:

  • Access to information: 19 percent of knowledge workers can’t find information within their current systems
  • Generational gaps: 36 percent of 45-54-year-old workers are more likely to use email if needing a quick response from a colleague and 27 percent of 16-24-year-old workers were more likely to use chat
  • Top consequences: 34 percent rate extended hours in the office as one

Apart from having to spend extended hours in the office (34 percent), from a business point of view, one of the most problematic findings is that it takes much longer lead times to resolve customer issues (27 percent), resulting in frustrated customers or clients (25 percent). With 60 percent of employees agreeing that most of the information needed to prevent these scenarios is concentrated among a few individuals, increasing collaboration across the organization through technology can enable staff to do their job more effectively — a finding agreed to by 72 percent of those polled.

The problem here is that report after report after report shows that customers are expecting seamless, engaging and quick touchpoints with businesses. If they don't get that, well they just go somewhere else and all your investments in digital workplace technology and training just goes out the window.

The research concludes that by using one cloud communications platform with unified data, and individuals can collaborate much more efficiently to drive dramatically higher productivity and better experiences. As 8x8 sponsored the report they also offer their services as one such solution. However, there are many solutions and many ways to the single source of data, or truth, and it is worth looking around here.

Visit 8x8 to learn how its solutions are eliminating information barriers and powering greater productivity.

Slack Digs Deeper With Salesforce

There has been a more mudslinging again over who has the biggest number of users in the Teams-Slack collaboration platform showdown. Slack has once again underlined its growth by pointing out that it has exceeded 12 million people actively using Slack every day — up approximately 37 percent year over year. In addition, with more than 6 million paid seats, the number of engaged and active people who are relying on Slack continues to grow rapidly.

While this was possibly, if not probably, a response to the fact that its share price slid again this week and it needs to reassure investors there are other things in the tech domain that underline its strength. The most notable announcement, but not the only announcement is that Slack and Salesforce are expanding their partnership, so their joint customers can collaborate more easily using both tools. In a blog about the release, Slack explained that the new Salesforce for Slack app includes a significant update to its existing Sales Cloud integration as well as a brand-new integration with Service Cloud.

By using Slack and Salesforce together, teams can easily stay up to date on their Salesforce records from within Slack, as well as take advantage of new opportunities to collaborate with team members across the organization. “The release of these new integrations marks the next phase of our partnership with Salesforce, as we deliver on our shared commitment to provide a rich experience across an expanded range of product integrations. Not only do these investments boost team productivity and collaboration they also support the continued success of our joint customers,” the blog reads.

It comes with all the capabilities that you would expect with such an integration but its more than just functionality, according to Slack

Slack was built to keep teams aligned and give them access to critical information quickly and seamlessly. This integrations enables that giving users access to all the data that is contained in Salesforce, which through Slack can be shared and collaborated on seamlessly.

While this ability has been possible since 2016 when the two companies first got together. This update though, streamlines their position. Brad Armstrong, VP of Corporate and Business Development at Slack said of the announcement. “These new integrations reflect a deepening alignment between both companies and provide our joint customers a best-in-class experience across the Slack and Salesforce platforms.”

What it offers is, in effect, aligned teams that have access to critical information and rapidly.

Appian Releases Robotic Workforce Manager For UiPath

Elsewhere, Tysons, Va.- based Appian announced the availability of the Appian Robotic Workforce Manager solution for UiPath this week. The solution streamlines the management of the digital workforce and ensures coordination between robots and humans in order to increase business value. Incorporating Appian Robotic Workforce Manager, organizations can make the most of their RPA investment — improving management, increasing scale, and maximizing ROI while providing visibility and access to the business.

The result is total visibility into the digital workforce on any device (web or mobile), automation of work hand-offs between robots and people and assisted automation and business scheduling. Process owners can invoke RPA processes on-demand, or schedule them to run later, on the web or mobile devices.

Appian released a no-code integration plug-in for UiPath, eliminating the investment of extra cost and development time. To further its value across the organization, UiPath also released an integration for designers of the UiPath environment called "Appian Activity". With this feature, UiPath users can simply drag and drop it in UiPath for seamless connectivity to Appian.

ABBYY Enhances Machine Learning in FlexiCapture 12

Finally, this week, Milpitas, Calif.-based ABBYY, has announced that it has infused FlexiCapture 12 with enhanced machine learning (ML) technology to improve the accuracy and speed of processing enterprise content. The modern intelligent document processing (IDP) platform delivers a unified platform regardless of where it is deployed be it on-premises, in the cloud or called by developers using SDK or RESTful APIs.

FlexiCapture provides a solution for enterprises that are struggling to capture and transform unstructured content locked inside documents, forms and correspondence into meaningful structured data needed to fuel automation.

The company is also testing the application of natural language processing (NLP) technology in FlexiCapture to extend capture capabilities to unstructured documents. NLP will make unstructured data easier to understand, analyze and consume by providing structure through content classification and entity extraction.