The Virtuous Circle of Empowering Employees Through Digital Workplace

1 happy employees titre

A “chicken or egg” question

We are continuously told to put the customer first. However, are we not missing a crucial element? Should the employee not be considered as equally important to the customer? Remember what Richard Branson says: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.

Would it be incongruous to talk about happiness at the workplace? Happiness can indeed seem very personal and far from corporate responsibility. However, according to a study from the University of Warwick, happy professionals are up to 12% more productive than unhappy employees. Psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky describes happiness as the experience of positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is meaningful. She suggests that happy people make better decisions. What would that specifically mean at the workplace?

Empowering employees

Part of being happy is feeling “in control”, so empowerment is vital. When employees are emancipated in their jobs, they can deliver the extra mile. Social sciences have demonstrated that empowerment can be explored both at individual and organizational levels. Companies cannot escape their responsibility in that area. The Thomas and Velthouse model of employee motivation shows that empowerment incorporates four facets:

  • Meaningful tasks to accomplish
  • Feeling of competence
  • Work self-determination
  • Personal impact over results

HR and IT must therefore work together in order to create an environment that enables employees to feel as such. HR must promote values such as trust and the freedom to act. And IT must deploy an applicative framework that fosters employees’ autonomy and self-training.

Empowering employees means giving people both the spirit and the tools to solve problems and complete their tasks with minimal manager’s intervention. Organizations have a duty to provide access to knowledge and expertise for staff to make informed decisions and act in efficient ways. Accessing the right information at the right time is an essential component of the employee empowerment.

Digital Workplace is pivotal

One of the objectives is to support data access and break data silos. The more distributed the data, the more challenging it is to find relevant insights. According to McKinsey, employees spend close to two hours per day searching for information! An enterprise search application which connects people to corporate content is a key cog within Digital Workplace services. Such a tool has positive impacts on employees’ morale as people get meaningful information to make them successful in their responsibilities.

But accessing the right digital information is not enough as, from time to time, employees need to connect to peers or experts. Digital workplace is also about achieving a more human work environment contrary to the common belief that technology destroys relationships. For instance, many of our customers have implemented a “Find the People” application which treats people as entities and offers the ability to discover the most knowledgeable people on particular subjects based on project reports, white papers, training materials, internal publications etc. And when the employee has identified a colleague with the right skills, he or she can contact this person. A “working” Digital Workplace has been proven to greatly increase one-to-one interactions.

And without being cynical, is the implementation of a Digital Workplace still an optional pursuit? With the pandemic, companies’ ability to operate as a digital workplace has become essential. Covid-19 has triggered an involuntary trial for teleworking for most of us. Even people normally working in the same office have been separated during the lockdown. The Covid crisis has reshuffled digital transformation agendas for many organizations, and the post-Covid era will not reverse this trend!

What about the customers?

A study by the Work Institute states that the average cost of losing an employee is approximately at 33% of their annual wages. Training and retaining employees through an empowerment culture can save employers a lot of money. Securing a talented workforce plays a decisive role in the performance of any firm as the internal knowledge held by employees is a highly valuable asset.

No need to say that this is even more paramount for customer-facing staff. A single point of access to information through Digital Workplace gives the best chance to provide the right help to customers. In some context, data analytics can also anticipate what customers may require in the near future. Providing relevant information and the ability to solve problems are key success factors for a customer service. To be effective in their roles, customer-facing employees should therefore be well-versed on company’s products and services in order to successfully respond to clients’ questions. If an employee does not find the response on how to address a customer’s concern, he or she should find someone else who can assist – hence the “Find the People” capability mentioned before. And guess what? Employees able to satisfy customer requests can reduce their own stress levels and enhance their well-being. Happy employees make happy customers. And vice versa!

Employee engagement is now considered a top priority by business leaders

A recent survey related to Digital Workplace, sponsored by Sinequa and conducted by the independent organization Drive Innovation Insights (DII), shows the importance of empowering employees.

When assessing digital workplace needs, three metrics stand out as being particularly critical: Employee engagement, Efficiency of collaboration and Increase of intellectual capital. Digital workplace’s spectrum goes beyond efficiency at work. It is above all an essential driving force for the engagement and motivation of employees. Employee engagement is overall rated as the highest quality criteria by C-Level professionals involved in Digital Workplace programs.

It is now clear to executives that engaged employees take positive actions to exceed customers’ expectations. Happy employees definitely make happy customers and further improve a company’s performance!

+1Share on LinkedInShare on Twitter

Les Misérables and the Digital Workplace

When Optimizing Data Access Shows Soft and Hard ROI

When Optimizing Data Access Shows Soft and Hard ROIs

Les Misérables? Ring a bell?

Of course! This is a famous book by Victor Hugo, and the story is amazing! But what does it have to do with the digital workplace? Let me focus on a specific quotation and comment on similarities with the digital workplace.  It occurs in the chapter where Jean Valjean and Cosette are residing in a house with a garden.  In that part, Victor Hugo explores the multiple dimensions of nature.  What caught my attention is the following question: “Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins.  Which of the two has a grander view?”  The quotation resonated in my mind as it evokes similarities with the digital workplace, particularly in reference to data access.  For large and diverse content, having relevant and timely information is critical to companies.  There are different methods to query the data and the kind of ROI that can be expected varies by orders of magnitude.

The telescope – see far into the universe

What does it mean for the digital workplace? This means breaking internal data silos and opening up global information to your entire organization (any information shared by all, such as policies, procedures, HR information, compliance, etc.).  Having a digital workplace that includes an enterprise search layer that connects people to corporate content is therefore critical.  Every employee can see beyond its reach and access data spread over a wide range of different repositories.  This data is made available to everyone and everyone stays informed.

Such use of enterprise search does not bring a high degree of business specificity.  This is typically a Google-like experience with a simplified interface that is used indifferently by marketing, sales, engineering, or accounting people – any employee.  Working across business units to address multiple audiences (a horizontal approach) – its value can be uncovered by helping a large number of employees to find information; the ROI (Return on Investment) is based on an overall improvement of the company’s productivity.  According to McKinsey, employees spend close to two hours per day search for information.  In addition to increased productivity, such employee empowerment also has positive impacts on a company’s culture and employees’ wellbeing.  This is what we call a soft ROI.  A soft ROI is not easy to measure and rely on in a business case.  Benefits are referred to as indirect.  Having said that, some dollars savings can be estimated through productivity gains.  The main assumptions include the number of employees,  the average salary, and the percentage of working time saved thanks to a simple information finder.  A summary of an ROI that was calculated for a company comprising of 30,000 employees can be seen below.

ROI of Search for Digital Workplace

Assumptions were made regarding user adoption ramp-up schedules, with a greater number of users and a higher efficiency over time.  The ROI in this example is close to 13 million dollars over 3 years.

The microscope – explore what is next to you

How would this translate for the digital workplace? This ability would indeed be very helpful to assist intensive-knowledge workers in their daily tasks.  The term “knowledge worker” was first coined by Peter Drucker who defined knowledge workers as high-level workers who use advanced data collection techniques, statistics, complex correlations, case studies, and a lot more.  Data is key in helping them to perform their jobs.  And guess what? Enterprise search technology can also help in such a context.

As opposed to the simple Google-like experience, the objective here is to design a “Search-based application” customized with business-specific knowledge.  The value resides in the ability to follow a targeted business function along the key phases of its work.  Only enterprise search can index and aggregate very diverse data coming from both structured and unstructured content in order to extract the nuggets of information and provide a unified view on a specific topic (product, customer, company…)  For example, for a bank advisor, it is critical to aggregate internal data such as payments, information from the CRM, transaction history as well as external data, such as market analysis and news, to recommend the most relevant products to a customer.  The ROI is no longer related to a high number of people but to clear business-process improvements.  To do so, we target a precise group of knowledge workers on a designated use case in a specific vertical, a tryptic of “industry, use case, persona.”

Let’s take the example of clinical trials with a large pharmaceutical company.  Clinical trials are research studies that are aimed at evaluating a new drug.  They are the vehicles for evaluating a new drug.  They are the primary way that researchers find out if a new treatment is safe and effective.  In that case, the tryptic mentioned previously would then be “pharmaceutical, clinical trials, researchers.”  A specific “Search-based application” has been designed to dive into clinical data dispersed across millions of files and multiple systems and applications, surfacing insights to support the evaluation of new drugs.  The enterprise search technology had increased speed to market for new drugs.  Knowing that in the pharma industry, the average cost of new drug development is $1.0 billion, any slight improvement in the global process immediately gives better margins leading to bottom-line improvement.  This is what we call a hard ROI.  This type of ROI refers to clear measures that can be quantified in hard dollars.  To give you a flavor of the way the above pharmaceutical company calculated the ROI, you’ll find below some of the assumptions that were made (for your information, clinical trials include 3 main phases):

  • 10% to 14% of all drugs that make it to phase 1 succeed
  • 31% of all drugs that make it to phase 2 succeed
  • 50% of all drugs that make it to phase 3 succeed
  • 32% of drugs make it to phase 3
  • Average trial costs- phase 1: $170m; phase 2: $400m; phase 3: $530m
  • The cost of a trial is between $800m and $1.8b
  • The cost of patient/site recruitment averages $40k per patient/site

Locating key data and deriving insights is a key success factor for researchers.  The “Search-based application” has increased efficiency, shaving months off drug development timeline.  According to this large pharmaceutical corporation, the ROI realized is 25 million dollars per drug.

So, which has the grander view- the telescope or the microscope?

Both reveal worlds that are normally hidden from view.  For the digital workplace and data access, you require them both.  Accessing the right information at the right time is becoming ever more complex, and there are many factors with the potential to make it even more complicated.  Either for corporate content or business-specific data, enterprise search can help with both dimensions.  The ability to retrieve a company’s data assets and provide actionable insights in order to make informed decisions is indeed vital for business efficiency.  By applying methods and technologies, you can be sure that “Even the darkest of night will end and the sun will rise.” Another quote from Les Misérables.

Digital Workplace telescope vs microscope

+1Share on LinkedInShare on Twitter

Sinequa is Proud to Announce the Opening of its New Office in the Big Apple

Sinequa US Expansion

Earlier this year, Sinequa expanded to a bigger space for its North American headquarters in New York City. The move, which happened in late January, extends Sinequa’s office space from 3,665 square feet to over 8000 square feet, steps away from the legendary Madison Square Garden and major transportation hub, Penn Station.  “Additional space was necessary to meet the needs of a rapidly growing team and extended pipeline of clients,” commented Xavier Pornain, Sinequa’s VP of Sales, NA who is charged with leading the office and Sinequa’s North America growth strategy.  The new location will be the company’s third move since expanding its reach to the North American market in late 2014.

To celebrate the grand opening Sinequa’s, CEO Alexandre Bilger, and COO Fabrice de Salaberry, flew in from Paris to christen the office with champagne, confetti and a few rounds of bonzini foosball.

Sinequa is dedicated to strengthening its competencies and expertise across North America to address the diverse needs of Enterprise Search among its existing fortune 500 clients and beyond.  For more than 18 years, Sinequa has been a leader in developing a next-generation Enterprise Search platform that turns data (both structured and unstructured) into information and insights necessary for organizations to become “Information-Driven.”

“I’m very excited to see our office flourish and grow. The new office comes with lots of conference rooms to meet with customers and partners with plenty of natural light that makes it a great working environment. In addition, it shows our commitment to the U.S. market while accelerating our growth and expansion,” stated Laurent Fanichet, VP of Marketing.

+1Share on LinkedInShare on Twitter

Insight Engines in Wealth: How to Build Tomorrow’s Opportunities Today

Insight Engines in Wealth

McKinsey feels pessimistic. In their recent report, On the cusp of change: North American wealth management in 2030McKinsey forecast the future of wealth management. It’s a useful, thoughtful report. But you don’t have to wait until 2030. Most of the opportunities they sketch can be built today, with an insight engine.

Unsurprisingly, McKinsey provides a useful framework to think about the future of wealth management. They ask three big questions:

  • What will happen to advice?
  • What will happen to advisors?
  • What will wealth management firms do?

Insight engines — available today — can help provide answers to several of these questions. For context, I will explain insight engines briefly, covering their origins and what they do. Then, we can move on to explore how insight engines apply to wealth management today.

Insight engines: enterprise search evolved

Insight engines are enterprise search evolved. Gartner retired the category of enterprise search in 2016. In 2017, they unwrapped Insight Engines to reflect the profound changes in customer needs and technology capabilities.

Insight engines differ from enterprise search both in what they offer and the technologies used. In their inaugural 2018 report, Gartner highlights how Insight Engines are different:

Insight engines are distinguished by their capability to deliver insights in context to the right person, in the right place, at the right time.”

And they explain how the underlying technologies differ as well:

“These capabilities stem from the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, specifically natural-language processing, graph-based data structures, and machine learning.”

Sinequa, a provider of insight engines to financial institutions, has been a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Insight Engines since the category began.

Sinequa evolves enterprise search and insight engines even further. Coupling two decades of research in natural language processing with the latest deep learning approaches means users get immediate, relevant, auto-improving answers to their questions. Users have a complete view of customers or products or risks or contracts or deals all within a single view, created instantly from the most up-to-date content.

Advice

On advice, McKinsey makes three predictions:

  1. Hyper-personalized advice model built on data and continuous access.
  2. Bite-sized “fit-nance.” This means developing a granular ability to track customer investments, education, retirement, and broader financial wellness.
  3. Big tech will capture a large share of industry economics by providing core technology infrastructure.

The best investment advice comes from distilling mounds of data down into recommendations tailored to the client’s risk appetite and return objective. Sinequa’s Insight Engine delivers the investment insights required. The platform can search across all data sources including internal and external, cloud and on-premise, along with structured and unstructured data. Sinequa simplifies assessing financial wellness by providing a unified view of client assets and liabilities, irrespective of where the data is stored.

Advisors

For advisors, McKinsey thinks their working lives will change in three ways:

  1. Advisors remit expands to provide coaching on broader wealth and life issues. And McKinsey expects the industry to shed a fifth of its total advisors.
  2. The face of the advisor will become much more diverse, spanning increased numbers of women, minorities, and mid-career changers.
  3. User ratings will become ubiquitous, making advisor performance transparent.

Increasing advisor productivity remains a perennial challenge. Things will get worse as the current generation of wealth advisors retire. Routine work needs automating, so advisors can focus on adding value through relationship management and advice. Sinequa’s Insight Engine augments wealth advisors by saving their time foraging for data. And it applies decades of R&D in natural language processing, so advisors don’t have to read reams of documents.

Wealth management firms

McKinsey expects wealth management firms to have to make the most changes:

  1. Industry talent becomes more digital as wealth firms function as technology platforms.
  2. Several-at-scale firms will serve everyone while the rest will focus on providing differentiated service to ultra- and high-net-worth clients.
  3. Operational excellence will be required to protect margins from increasing transparency and falling fees.
  4. Integrated banking-wealth management ecosystems will emerge.

Insight engines can help wealth management survive and succeed in several ways:

  • Accelerate wealth firms build-out of their technology platforms with reduced risk using Sinequa’s multi-use-case Insights Engine.
  • Provide a unified view of clients to provide differentiated service to the extreme expectations of ultra- and high-net-worth clients.
  • Achieve operational excellence by applying All the AlphasHistorically, the wealth management industry has over-focused on the most transient of the alphas – the quest for above-market returns or investment alpha. However, this has resulted in overlooking the value hidden inside other internal functions, such as distribution and service. Delivering exceptional performance (alpha) in these functions can create competitive advantages more durable than investment alpha.
  • Find information and insight across any ecosystem, irrespective of the type, number, or location of ecosystem partners.

If you work at a wealth management firm and would like to learn more about how you can build tomorrow’s opportunities today, please attend one of our briefings.

Here’s how it works. You choose how much time you want to spend and where you want to spend it. We have an Executive Briefing Center on West 30th in New York City or in Paris or we can come to your office. We customize each briefing to your objectives and business challenges. We’ll start the briefing sharing our perspectives on insight engines in financial engines, learn more about your business, and discuss topics tailored to you. To arrange a briefing, please contact us at info@sinequa.com and add the subject line “Wealth Briefing.”

 

 

+1Share on LinkedInShare on Twitter

Mind the Information Gap

The following was originally published on the Benelux Intelligence Community website.

Over the last several years, data analytics has become a driving force for organizations wanting to make informed decisions about their businesses and their customers.  With further advancements in open source analytic tools, faster storage and database performance and the advent of sensors and IoT, IDC predicts the big data analytics market is on track to become a $200 billion industry by the end of this decade.

MIND_the_GAPMany organizations now understand the value of extracting relevant information from their enterprise data and using it for better decision-making, superior customer service and more efficient management. But to realize their highest potential in this space, organizations will have to evolve from being “data-driven” to being “information-driven.” While these two categories might sound similar, they’re actually quite different.

In order to make a data-driven decision, a user must somehow find the data relevant to a query and then interpret it to resolve that query. The problem with this approach is there is no way to know the completeness and accuracy of the data found in any reliable way.

Being information-driven means having all of the relevant content and data from across the enterprise intelligently and securely processed into information that is contextual to the task at hand and aligned with the user’s goals.

An information-driven approach is ideal for organizations in knowledge-intensive industries such as life sciences and finance where the number and volume of data sets are increasing and arriving from diverse sources. The approach has repeatedly proven to help research and development organizations within large pharmaceutical companies connect experts with others experts and knowledge across the organization to accelerate research, lab tests and clinical trials to be first to market with new drugs.

Or think of maintenance engineers working at an airline manufacturer trying to address questions over an unexpected test procedure result. For this, they need to know immediately the particular equipment configuration, the relevant maintenance procedures for that aircraft and whether other cases with the same anomaly are known and how they were treated. They don’t have time to “go hunting” for information. The information-driven approach draws data from multiple locations, formats and languages for a complete picture of the issue at hand.

In the recent report, “Insights-Driven Businesses Set the Pace for Global Growth,” Forrester Research notes organizations that use better data to gain business insights will create a competitive advantage for future success. They are expected to grow at an average of more than 30 percent each year, and by 2020 are predicted to take $1.8 trillion annually from their less-informed peers.

To achieve this level of insight, here are several ways to evolve into an information-driven organization.

Understand the meaning of multi-sourced data

To be information-driven, organizations must have a comprehensive view of information and understand its meaning. If it were only about fielding queries and matching on keywords, a simple indexing approach would suffice.

The best results are obtained when multiple indexes are combined, each contributing a different perspective or emphasis. Indexes are designed to work in concert to provide the best results such as a full-text index for key terms and descriptions, a structured index for metadata and a semantic index that focuses on the meaning of the information.

Maintain strong security controls and develop contextual abilities

Being information-driven also requires a tool that is enterprise-grade with strong security controls to support the complexities and multiple security layers, and contextual enrichment to learn an organization’s vernacular and language.

Capture and leverage relevant feedback from searches

As queries are performed, information is captured about the system that interacts with the end user and leveraged in all subsequent searches. This approach ensures the quality of information improves as the system learns what documents are most used and valued the most.

Connect information along topical lines

Connecting information along topical lines across all repositories allows information-driven organizations to expose and leverage their collective expertise. This is especially valuable in large organizations that are geographically distributed.

As more people are connected, the overall organization becomes more responsive in including research and development, service and support and marketing and sales as needed. Everyone has the potential to be proficient in less time as new and existing employees learn new skills and have access to the expertise to take their work to the next level.

By connecting related information across dispersed applications and repositories, employees can leverage 360-degree views and have more confidence they are getting holistic information about the topic they are interested in, whether it be a specific customer, a service that is provided, a sales opportunity or any other business entity critical to driving the business.

Leverage natural language processing

A key to connecting information is natural language processing (NLP), which performs essential functions, including automated language detection and lexical analysis for speech tagging and compound word detection.

NLP also provides the ability to automatically extract dozens of entity types, including concepts and named entities such as people, places and companies. It also enables text-mining agents integrated into the indexing engine that detects regular expressions and complex “shapes” that describe the likely meaning of specific terms and phrases and then normalizes them for use across the enterprise.

Put Machine Learning to work

Machine learning (ML) is becoming increasingly critical to enhancing and improving search results and relevancy. This is done during ingestion but also constantly in the background as humans interact with the system. The reason ML has become essential in recent years is that it can handle complexity beyond what’s possible with rules.

ML helps organizations become information-driven by analyzing and structuring content to both enrich and extract concepts such as entities and relationships. It can modify results through usage, incorporating human behavior into the calculation of relevance. And it can provide recommendations based what is in the content (content-based) and by examining users’ interactions (collaborative filtering).

Taking these steps will help organizations become information-driven by connecting people with the relevant information, knowledge, expertise and insights necessary to ensure positive business outcomes.

 

+1Share on LinkedInShare on Twitter