IBM Watson is considered the grandfather of cognitive search and natural language processing, and Scott Parker was there for its birth. The company he worked for at the time, Vivisimo, had been acquired by IBM, and its enterprise search technology formed a major component of the Watson solution. That was Parker’s introduction to the art and science of enterprise search technologies.
Now the director of product marketing at enterprise search technology company Sinequa, Parker leverages the power of intelligent search to help extract valuable insights from customer's data. Sinequa is a sponsor of Simpler Media Group's Digital Workplace Experience, starting today as a free, virtual event. Parker's colleague John Finneran will deliver a presentation titled, "How to Deliver a Digital Workplace That Actually Works" on Oct. 14.
Parker spoke with Simpler Media Group about the relationship between employee experience and customer experience, how content fuels the digital workplace and how AI can help employees cut through information overload.
Happy Employees Translate to Happy Customers
SMG: What is the relationship between customer experience and employee experience? Why is that so important, and how can companies make sure to take care of both?
Parker: Your employees are the face of the company, and they’re making decisions about how customers interface with your organization. You have to set the right tone for employees so they’re productive, so they can be in the flow and getting genuine workplace happiness. That good employee experience, in turn, will create a tractor beam that brings customers back. No one wants to work with a company with a sour culture! Those are intangible, to an extent, but you have to get them right.
Automation can help by making your people more efficient and handling the basic, redundant questions so they can focus on the more complex issues. You can’t — nor should you — automate the customer experience completely, and you’re probably always going to get to a point where you need a hand-off to a human interaction. The key there is to make sure it’s consistent, smooth and fast.
Helping Employees Easily Find Information
SMG: What is the role of content in a digital workplace?
Parker: Digital content is the raw material that keeps employees informed and productive in a digital workplace. This is also true in a traditional workplace, but the virtual nature of working in the digital workplace amplifies content's critical role. Employees working in a digital workplace are often 'remote' in the sense that they are not physically colocated with their fellow employees.
For instance, they cannot simply lean over the cubicle wall to ask their neighbor a question. Employees in the digital workplace depend on digital content to be effective and efficient in their jobs. It’s worth noting that the nature of the digital workplace also tends to produce more content, since communication and collaboration is occurring mostly online. This introduces a very real danger that the valuable 'signals' in the content become lost in all the 'noise.' In some ways, content serves as a primary means to connect people to the knowledge, information and expertise they need to be productive in a digital workplace.
CMSWire: How can a digital workplace strategy ensure information is easily searchable and accessible?
Parker: An effective digital workplace enables employees to easily find the information, knowledge, applications and people they need in order to work successfully. The digital workplace has evolved over the years to include a massive web of technologies. Collaboration software, CRM systems, custom business applications and other content silos all contain valuable data and content, but relevant information can only be surfaced by searching within each separately. To break down these silos, organizations need secure technology that enables collaboration and easy access to relevant information. This is where intelligent enterprise search comes in.
CMSWire: How can AI help alleviate challenges with information overload and help get information in front of the right people at the right time?
Parker: Frequently the data and content employees have at their disposal is isolated, segmented and fractured. It’s difficult to surface the right information at the right time and see the patterns in the data. AI technology excels at identifying patterns to help automate the interpretation of meaning and apply structure to unstructured content. This means employees consistently get the most relevant information in response to their questions and queries. AI also effectively 'learns' through examples, which enables a continuously improving end user experience.
CMSWire: What other trends do you see influencing the space?
Parker: A few things I see right now are more interactions with smart speakers — voice search, voice commerce, that kind of thing; that’s interesting to us. I think the expectations for a personalized experience is a newer trend. We’re all starting to expect that technology understands us and what we are looking for.
And augmented reality. Using your phone, or even specialty glasses that allow you to see digitally rendered information based on your location — even doing that in a Zoom room, or a meeting, and pulling up information on your device and piping up to say, “Yes, I’m looking at the spreadsheet right now,” “I see last year’s sales numbers …” or whatever in the moment in AR.
Finally, so many trends around security for all this new technology, and also around data privacy, and who owns that personal information and how they can use it.
There's still time to register for your free Digital Workplace Experience pass.