reading the business news

There is a load of research this week to show that digital workers in digital workplaces are a happy bunch. There are two notable reports from two different companies that looked at the difference aspects of digital work and digital workers. The first, from Santa Clara, Calif.-based Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Company (HPE), looked at workplace motivations and the impact of technology.

The research polled 7,000 employees across 15 countries in April 2018 and May 2018 and was published in a report titled The Right Technologies Unlock the Potential of the Digital Workplace. It shows that companies that are less technologically advanced are at risk of falling behind the competition and not attracting top talent. It also notes that companies must be vigilant as more digital-savvy employees are taking greater risks with data and information security.

The fourteen page report is full of all kinds of interesting insights into the digital workplace, but a few findings stand out. It showed, for example, that “digital revolutionaries” — employees identified as those who work in fully-enabled digital workplaces where new workplace technologies are in widespread use — were 51 percent more likely to have strong job satisfaction. Forty-three percent are more likely to be positive about their work-life balance than “digital laggards” — those who have less access to workplace technology.

The research also quantified the positive impact of digital technologies in the workplace. It showed that 73 percent of digital revolutionaries reported a positive impact to their productivity and 70 percent cited improved collaboration thanks to digital technologies vs. 55 percent of laggards.

In fact, the benefits of digital tools have become so apparent to organization managers globally, 69 percent say their companies have invested in digital workplace tools in the last year. Among the tools that are starting to pique interest are several tools that are connected to the Internet of Things(IoT) including tools that that automate temperature controls and lighting (24 percent), voice-activated and wireless AV technology (23 percent), and custom corporate mobile apps (23 percent).

However, its not all good. The research also showed that there are also considerable security risks associated with the digital workplace. Although employees reported higher levels of cybersecurity awareness (52 percent think about security often or daily), they also admitted to taking more risks with company data and devices, with 70 percent admitting to risky behaviors such as sharing passwords and devices.

Digitally Starved Employees Are Likely To Quit

The findings are backed up by other search from Blue Bell, PA.-based Unisys which found that companies lagging in technology report levels of frustration among staff and turnovers far higher compared with companies considered technology leaders. The global study surveyed more than 12,000 workers in April 2018 across 12 countries, gauging the attitudes of today's digital workers on how the technology used in the workplace impacts their day-to-day lives.

Among the findings is that the level of frustration directly correlates with the threat of attrition. Workers at technology laggards (11 percent) were 450 percent more likely to want to leave to go work elsewhere, as compared to their counterparts at technology leaders (2 percent). This is particularly concerning considering that leader organizations were represented by less than one-third of all workers surveyed in the U.S. (30 percent), slightly less than the global average (32 percent) and the eighth lowest total of the 12 countries surveyed. Furthermore, it showed that devices serve as the biggest pain point for workers at "technology laggard" organizations, with 45 percent of these workers complaining that they are held back from being more productive by outdated devices.

While the research didn’t quantify how much this "frustration" could cost a company, research from the end of last year by Gallup showed disengaged employees cost the US between $483 billion to $605 billion each year in lost productivity. The cost of replacing employees was also enormous as every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs six-to-nine months' salary on average to find someone as productive as the employee that has been lost.

Box Gets Down With Watson

Elsewhere, Redwood City, Calif.-based Box has just announced that it is expanding its Box Skills private beta program. It is also adding new skills using IBM’s Watson and adding support for new machine learning capabilities from Microsoft Azure.

Box Skills was introduced at BoxWorks 2017 and provided business with a new way to organize, protect and automate processes around their business content at scale using artificial intelligence and machine learning. Skills is a suite of apps that adds new features and functionality to cloud-hosted files. Box launched a few skills last year as part of a private beta program, including an image-processing skill that uses Google’s Image API.

These new set of skills that have just been unveiled aim to bring IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence to the Box cloud. This means enabling businesses to build e new, customizable solutions, using the Box Skills Kit that will provide businesses with a way to use IBM’s Watson with enterprise content already managed in Box.

It is also introducing new AI machine learning services available from Microsoft Azure that were announced as part of Microsoft Build 2018, Microsoft's annual developer conference, including:

  • Improved OCR in Computer Vision: Using the improved OCR engine now available through Azure Computer Vision, part of Azure Cognitive Services, any image-based Box Skills will now be able to better-detect text within images
  • Expanded object detection in Computer Vision: Computer Vision is now able to detect dozens of more objects in images, making it easier to apply rich metadata to images in Box.

If you are interested in working with Box on this, the private beta program will open at the end of this month to add a limited number of new participants.

Sapho Supports Workers By The Hour

San Bruno, Calif.-based, Sapho, the developer of employee experience portal designed for the digital workplace has expanded its solution to support workers that work on an hourly basis. With Sapho Employee Experience Portal 5.0, Sapho is offering these workers with self-service access to common tasks, such as time entry and shift management, and personalized access to company information.

A statement from Sapho points out that hourly workers are plagued by technology limitations that make it difficult for them to do their jobs. As most of these workers are not on the same identity management system as salaried employees, enterprises are forced to create customized applications that quickly become unusable and legacy. “Hourly workers have a different set of requirements that force IT to manage these workers separately from salaried employees,” Peter Yared, CTO and co-founder of Sapho said in the statement. “They are typically managed on custom identity solutions, have labor rules restricting when they can access work systems, and use old and hard-to-use systems that require extensive and costly training.”

This means that they only get access to the information and systems needed to do their jobs. The new additions with Portal 5.0 ensure that workers with a personalized portal, have secure access to the tasks and information that previously required logging into multiple systems. It’s a small addition to the digital workplace but one that will help tackle application clutter.

Wiretap Offers Messaging Insights

Columbus, Ohio-based Wiretap released its first Human Behavior Risk Analysis Report, spanning analysis and in-depth research of employee behavior that threatens organizational security, compliance and culture.

The 29-page report is chock-full of facts, findings, analysis and observations that spotlight the human behavior risks behind messages exchanged on today’s rapidly growing enterprise collaboration networks. Some of the findings that were uncovered include:

  • Approximately 25 percent of users’ author more than 80 percent of all messages.
  • Employees tend to communicate in a much more casual and candid manner on these tools than more traditional platforms like email.
  • Toxic behavior is mostly driven by a small group of employees engaged in private conversation.
  • Negative messages live in the dark corners of digital collaboration.

There is a lot more in this for any enterprise interested in messaging in the digital workplace. You can find the report here.

Google Did Want GitHub

Finally, this week, Diane Green, Google’s head of cloud computing, is reported to have said at a recent Fortune Magazine event that Google would have liked to buy GitHub. Previous rumors suggest Google was also trying to acquire GitHub. GitHub founder Chris Wanstrath reportedly chose Microsoft because of his relationship with CEO Satya Nadella. According to reports in the financial newswire Bloomberg Greene said, “I wouldn’t have minded buying them, but it’s OK.”

GitHub is a large code repository that is popular with developers and companies to host projects, documentation, and code. Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and many other big tech companies use GitHub. There are 85 million repositories hosted on GitHub, and 28 million developers contribute to them. So where else can Google go?