What were we doing in the year 2001? Major technological changes started to rise. The inventions and innovations at the time, such as the iPod, heralded a change in the way we would consume content forever. Six years later, in 2007, the iPhone was launched and smart technology entered our lives. Fast forward to today, everything is digital – connected devices, wearable technology, mobility, virtual reality and social networks. Perhaps the youngest generations who have been born with digital at their fingertips cannot fully appreciate the extent to which the world has been transformed in the last fifteen years. And that transformation is only moving faster. The pace of change is exponential – more innovations are happening at this exact moment than in the entire year of 2001. Developers all over the world are ready to build, learn, and innovate. They are moving incredibly fast.
But, how does all that change affect our businesses? How does it impact on corporate memory? “There is so much information, so much data, coming into our lives that we cannot just know it all,” says Elisa Steele, CEO of Jive, “Understanding where to get the right information from, who the experts are, and finding the right content that we need to work on, is critically important.” Indeed, there is so much waste in our economy simply because we cannot find and leverage all the information that we need. “It feels like we can do a simple search and have all the answers. But in the world of work the information is often siloed. It’s in the back room,” she points out.
Part of Jive’s mission is to interpret work and societal changes because they impact corporate memory in some shape or form. Steele points to the rise in remote working; the new skills required and the freelance economy.
Consider deskless workers; many people are working from wherever there is an Internet connection. They are not sitting behind a desk. They are not able to communicate (physically) face-to-face with their colleagues. But, they are interacting in new and different ways. Deskless workers are trying to be connected virtually. So, the questions to ask are: ‘How do we ensure that they are engaged and believe in the vision of the company? How do we make sure that they work on the right priorities?’
Remember that skills expire. Steele likes to remind us that today’s workers need to update their capabilities, by constantly learning on the job. The upskilling has become super fast. It is not about studying something for years. It is about learning on the job, everyday. As Steele puts it: “Learn, work, learn, work.”
The number of temps and contractors keeps growing. By 2020, it is predicted that the freelance economy will account for almost 40% of the workforce. Organisations are working with partners, freelancers, third parties, and indeed customers. All those audiences are bringing innovation inside a company. But they are also creating different ways of communicating and getting information. All of which, could lead to a phenomenon that Steele calls, corporate amnesia: “Companies have the knowledge, content and information that they need. But workers often forget about it. Or they simply don’t know where it is.”
Steele talks about “hiring and firing applications”. How often do we download a new app on our phone, only to forget about it within a couple of weeks? And there’s always a new app, a ‘better’ app, for us to try tomorrow. We’re constantly offered new mobile capabilities. With this in mind, Jive means to break through the app apathy and provide a pleasing amount of novelty, and help people get their work done, via the Jive Enterprise Collaboration Hub and its range of mobile apps.
Industry trends causing corporate amnesia
Looking at corporate amnesia more closely, there are three major causes:
Employee turnover (sometimes called ‘churn’) is extremely costly and directly contributes to information loss. When corporate memory leaves like this, it significantly affects efficiency and productivity. Yet most companies do not have a way to offboard effectively. Steele encourages us to think beyond the exit interview: “When people leave a company, how does it retain all the information and knowledge that those workers possessed? If a person is leaving the organisation, how are all the contributions they made to the company leveraged in the right way?”
Data overload is an ever present risk of the information age. As individuals, we cannot possibly keep up with all the information that would benefit our work. We cannot always find and connect with those who have the expertise to help with our task. This is particularly true for large enterprises: “They are complex organisations. One of their major problems is fragmentation, whether it is people, or information,” says Steele.
Remote work is a more accepted practice than ever, whether it’s working at home, on the train, or in a client’s office. Remote workers cannot just turn to their right and talk to a colleague when they need something. Yet everyone, “needs to be connected and get to their teammates quickly. And they need the tools and applications that allow them to do just that, to the company’s advantage.” Jive focuses on user experience to provide tools that are easy to use, and where workers can find all the information that they need.
Technology drivers for corporate memory
What types of technology addresses corporate amnesia?
First, machine learning: “This is about delivering content in context,” says Steele. Indeed, every technology company is thinking about machine learning nowadays. One of its major benefits is that the technology completes routine tasks so that workers can spend more time doing non-repetitive and strategic work which adds value.
Secondly, predictive analytics: Technology companies are now able to look at trends and data, which have become essential to how people work. Companies can see patterns in the way people connect to people and information and ultimately they can predict outcomes. One of Jive’s customers for example, uses predictive analytics to foretell the type of person who is going to stay in the company and the type of person who is more likely to leave. Ultimately, they can work on internal policies, processes and procedures before losing their key talent.
Finally, there’s the Internet of Things (IoT), which Jive also focuses on. As more and more objects are connected to the internet, how do they talk to each other?
Making work searchable, visible and memorable
Hopefully, we must all agree that corporate memory is an asset. And corporate amnesia is the peril.
Jive’s enterprise collaboration hub, as described by Steele, makes work “searchable, visible and memorable.” It creates an intelligent work graph that allows people, content, and information to be visible and searchable across groups, departments, and divisions. Jive helps employees focus on the matters they are directly working on, while also bringing them related content and suggesting pertinent people.
“Things that I want to be aware of, but I don’t know exist,” she explains.
The technology learns as people interact, and gets to know what is important to them. It gets smarter every time a person logs on, creating smart profiles based on what matters to the individual. All the work and contributions stay on Jive, and are easy enough to find in the future. So if a project moves to a different team, or if someone leaves the company, nothing gets lost; it remains in the corporate memory.
To illustrate her point, Steele concludes with a fascinating study that was conducted by the University of California in Santa Barbara. The Jive platform was adopted in one part of a company. The six-month research project looked at the differences between Jive workers and non-Jive workers. Two important factors emerged from the study: employees using Jive had a 30% improvement in ambient awareness, relating to ‘who knows who’. They also benefited from a 70% improvement in expertise awareness, relating to ‘who knows what’. So, the platform was enabling Jive workers to be more connected, informed, and productive. Steele summarises, “By knowing other people and the information that they had, were those workers able to accomplish their tasks faster and more accurately than the other group.”