Augmented Productivity: Work Smarter, Assisted by AI.
Apps are getting smarter. Virtual assistants help us find information, schedule meetings, and suggest what sales leads are the best use of our time. These are examples of “Augmented Productivity” — how increasingly intelligent apps streamline and enhance our daily workflows to help us get more done, make better decisions and drive better outcomes
Automated and Augmented. What’s the difference?
In an article about the ways in which you can automate a number of administrative tasks, Inc.com contributor Sujan Patel lists six tasks that don’t need to burden the user: Sorting and responding to emails, scheduling appointments, paying bills, creating proposals, responding to common customer questions, and collecting customer data. When fully automated, you may not even see the work getting done except when something needs extra attention to resolve.
“With a little bit of strategic thinking and planning,” says Patel, you can easily automate the tasks that are slowing down your day, so you can get back to the real work of running your business. He’s right. Software from its very origins has been about automating processes and the pace of that automation has been exponential in recent years.
But what’s the difference between a process that’s simply “automated” and one that “augments” your productivity?
No, we are not going to suggest everyone puts on a VR headset and meet in an “augmented reality” meeting room online. It’s far more simple and real than that.
The best way to summarize “augmented productivity” is this: just as “augmented reality” imposes contextual and actionable information in the user’s field of view against a backdrop of reality, augmented productivity takes information relating to the work at hand and injects suggestions and recommendations into the workflow so as to empower us to get things done better and faster. While there’s certainly automated processes at work in the background, augmented productivity is very much visible and present. It injects itself into your workflows to assist when needed. By this definition, it turns out “augmented productivity” is not all that new of an idea. We’ve been doing this since around the time “spellcheck” was invented. However, advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are today powering a much broader range of “augmented productivity” applications all designed to save us time, reduce errors, and make better decisions.
Spellcheck is a simple example of augmented productivity that has been around for decades. It saves you time by augmenting the process of writing workflow with “thoughtful” suggestions for improvements. Typically you choose to embrace the suggestions or not. And when spellcheck goes beyond augmentation and “auto-corrects” your writing for you, ironically it seems less smart (and leads to plenty of humorous and embarrassing situations).
From there all we need to do is look at the way predictive text works on mobile devices and it’s easy to see the way that seemingly simple software is adapting and developing based on the demands of its users.
Augmentations on the Go
We can see further evidence of the way smart apps augment functions and processes to increase productivity with some of the leading technologies used by businesses. With these cases, it’s less about the speed in which one is working and correcting errors and more about finding the fastest and most successful route to achieve a goal.
In a very literal sense, we can find examples of “the fastest and most successful route to achieve a goal” within Google Maps and Waze. These are navigation apps that suggest routes based both on active user input (your destination, roads you might want to avoid) and augment it with broader intelligence (traffic conditions, road closures). Weighing up the information it has, it predicts the most suitable route for your destination and turns this into an active workflow by distributing the information through a series of step-by-step instructions delivered in an assistive manner.
Augmentations for Business
Salesforce is another market leader we’ve discussed before who is embracing artificial intelligence to help customers achieve more.
Salesforce’s “Einstein” and Marketo use applied artificial intelligence to help keep sales workers productive by minimising the time it takes for them to identify highly qualified leads where their time would be best spent. The systems intelligent qualify leads by running them through algorithms that ascertain how likely they are to be successful. This would have taken hours of time out of that employee’s workday and would leave the results liable to human error. Through this method, Salesforce makes all salespeople more productive with higher odds of meeting or exceeding their quotas.
The IQ of TeamworkIQ
Our vision for TeamworkIQ is “augmented productivity” for teamwork, project management, and process coordination.
Just as Google Maps’ core paradigm is simple, easy to understand and easy to use (it’s a map right!), so too TeamworkIQ’s checklists provide a simple easy-to-use outline of everything that needs to get done to get from point A and point B.
However, it’s the overlays of information, suggestions, and constant route optimization that adds value atop the easy to use interface. Just as Google Maps and Waze actively guide you through the journey, TeamworkIQ guides teams through projects and processes while keeping everyone apprised of progress, wrong turns and possible pitfalls ahead.
Just as Google Maps proactively identifies and finds traffic slowdowns or accidents along an intended route. So too, TeamworkIQ aims to foresee risks in the process ahead and advise teams early when there’s time to adapt or reset expectations. Checklists are roadmaps for work that needs to get done. TeamworkIQ helps everyone work smarter, augmenting workflows to drive faster, better outcomes.
Work smarter. Take TeamworkIQ for a drive.