Powered by advancements in artificial intelligence, the software and apps we use are rapidly improving the way we work. Here are several examples of how this software helps drive better business workflows and results with far less time and effort.
The software and apps we use are getting smarter everyday. Advancements in machine learning (ML) and other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) are streamlining both personal work as well as business workflows. “Chatbots” can converse with you in text or voice to more quickly find, buy or reserve the thing you want. Your online photo albums self-organize based on who and what computers “see” in the images. Your email server sorts out and brings important messages to your attention while pushing distracting promotions, spam and social chatter into low priority categories. Smarter software at work identifies more highly qualified sales leads and reduces time spent in tedious business tasks like scheduling meetings or repetitively entering data into computer systems. Software and apps are no longer just storing and reporting on data for us, they are doing “intelligent” work for us–helping us work smarter.In April 2017, Thomas Tunguz, venture capitalist at Redpoint Ventures, reflected more deeply on the potential impact of increasingly smart software now available for the workplace in his article When Machine Learning Just Isn’t Enough. Tunguz’s central point focused on how to best apply ML and AI to users’ needs:
Only by nailing the workflow will a user grant you the time and permission to wow them with machine learning.
ML, while “smart” must also be applied in a smart way to significantly improve a business workflow to the point it adds significant value for users. Tunguz cites several examples stating “ML can improve the workflow by reducing data entry time (RelateIQ), improving efficiency (Infer), providing novel insight (Chorus), among many other use cases.”Tunguz’s thoughts were influenced by Salesforce Chief Scientist, Richard Socher’s comments on the importance of workflows when employing these new technologies:
There are three key phases of enterprise A.I. rollout: data, algorithms, and workflows…you have to be very careful to think about how to empower users and customers with your A.I. features. This is very complex but very specific. Workflow integration for sales processes is very different from those for self-driving cars.
However, in response to Socher’s statement, Tunguz emphasis further the critical challenge of workflow:
Of the three, workflows are the hardest. Only by nailing the workflow will a user grant you the time and permission to wow them with machine learning. Designing software that fits a user workflow is difficult. Better workflow is the hallmark of great software.
Smart Apps Today
Beyond the three examples Tunguz lists, there’s a wave of hundreds of new smart apps that impact the way we work and do business.The calendar app Sunrise, acquired by Microsoft and incorporated into Outlook’s calendar features, streamlined the workflow of planning and coordinating your schedule by detecting words and phrases you enter, then taking action for you. Begin to type an address and the app suggests the real addresses and lets you select it, rather than type it in full possibly with errors. Time saved. Accuracy improved.Amy from x.ai is an AI powered personal assistant service that schedules meetings. Amy eliminates the tedious back and forth manual effort required to find a common meeting time that works for everyone. Amy also fits into the workflow you already use: sending email. However, Amy improves on that workflow by doing all the back and forth for you while you put your time to better uses. Just Cc Amy on your invitation message to other attendees and Amy immediately goes to work for you. Time saved. Faster results. Fewer mistakes. (And no more thinking through all the time zone shifts.)However, is email alone, truly the most convenient way to schedule a meeting? Services like Calendly.com enable you to send a link to other meeting attendees so that they can view openings in your calendar and pick a time that’s best for them. That’s a “smart” and very convenient workflow without any fancy AI or ML required to get the job done.So what’s more convenient for you?
Does AI Mean Ease of Use?
The challenge of applying AI to business problems, according to Tunguz, comes down to net value of the increased ease of use of the workflow itself asking:
How can software improve a current workflow to such an extent that a user is willing to stop their current workflow and learn a new one?
Smarter, More Convenient Workflows
In keeping with the trends and strategies Tunguz identifies, our mission here at TeamworkIQ is to radically improve the workflow for automating business workflows and managing the resulting business processes, tasks and assignments. To do that we embrace the natural, existing habits of business users and augment those habits with smart, assistive software.In our research with business managers we discovered two key desires. First, to streamline how work is delegated to people and teams. Secondly, to reduce the time it takes to coordinate, track and manage the delegated work and assure the work gets done (or detect early that it unlikely so that managers can intervene and adjust plans). This project management and process coordination work is a necessity, however it is also perceived as low value, “using up my time” or “keeping me late at work”. Conversations with customers revealed that email remains the most convenient way to delegate work, but is woefully inefficient for tracking work. Similarly, the “low tech” business user habit of using Microsoft Word and Google Docs to document and track work progress remains the most convenient way to share what what needs doing, what’s been done, who needs to do what next and by when. So we asked ourselves: could we create something that let business teams work in their existing, natural, most convenient workflows, allowed them to delegate and describe work, but cut out all the inefficiency of tracking and coordinating that work through to completion? If so, the result would be invaluable. Such an app would provide better outcomes in less time without letting anything fall through the cracks. What’s more, relative to the cost and time consuming nature of other project management and workflow software, TeamworkIQ could be far more convenient and less expensive to automate work.
Words into Workflows with Smarts
Like Amy from x.ai, TeamworkIQ lets you work the way you already do. Simply send an email to the team including action items outlining who needs to do what. Then, like Amy, TeamworkIQ actively coordinates each task and step of the process until the project tasks and workflow steps are completed. However, unlike Amy, TeamworkIQ also creates a shared document for the team to use to track progress. This online checklist of action items and process steps is built from the language in the message you sent. This checklist works in concert with the communications taking place by email so that the document and the email communications are always in sync. This document in many ways is the equivalent of the convenient visual calendar of Calendly.com. At a glance the online checklist reflects the current state of work, where the “openings” are, what’s been done and what’s coming up. It’s “smart” in that it works the way business users already create checklist styled outlines of processes.And if you want to create repeatable procedures just as you have by typing up a document, TeamworkIQ lets you do that too. Simply type up who needs to do what using our online text editor and press send. TeamworkIQ’s smarts handle the process, whether it’s a simple list of to-dos, tasks for a project or step by step workflow processes with levels of sub-steps in between.Intelligent apps are here now to help you work smarter–not more. Add smart apps to your daily activities to streamline your personal, teamwork and broader business workflows.———-