With the new year upon us and the excitement building to know what's in store for the Bonzai intranet platform in 2018, we predict, envision and forecast the changing nature and future of intranets, the digital workplace, AI (artificial intelligence), chatbots and much more. Learn what Bonzai's four Founders see as our technology landscape rapidly evolves and the versatility of business applications transform the workplace.
In this two part series, we explore the changing nature of the intranet, the work environment and the importance of governance as well as explore how AI (artificial intelligence), chatbots, cloud security, IoT (Internet of Things), risk and compliance will shape the intranet and technology landscape moving forward.
What is constant with the changing nature of the Intranet?
There has been a paramount shift in the way users interact with intranet platforms. Rather than the traditional approach to ‘push’ information out to employees, there is an ever increasing amount of 'pull' bringing employees to the intranet. With many employees owning and managing different areas of the intranet, as well as their own profile and social information, users are more familiar with consuming and creating content on the intranet as well as leverage the platform to interact, to share and to collaborate with other employees.
Beyond this, the intranet has become the default social network of many organizations, with a continuing trend towards using the intranet to harness company culture, to streamline archaic business processes and to engagement and interact online.
Bonzai's Director of Engineering, Matthew Carriere, comments on the changing nature of the intranet noting: "Push rather than pull systems are gaining traction and are increasingly requested from organizations looking to further engage employees. Traditional models of data structure for indexing and search support a pull-type system, which no longer works with this push concept due to the volume of data collected. Users are looking for systems to be more proactive, with elements of natural language processing and machine learning. To do this successfully, intranets need to be developed to learn and to understand organizational layers in order to be able to identify user roles and push information to users based on their role within the organization."
The changing nature of the intranet goes beyond an intranet platform's architecture and ability to leverage AI, machine learning and contextual processing, the need for organizations to understand and facilitate the cultural, business and process changes that are required for successfully adopting a new intranet platform remain paramount. From both a planning and execution perspective, organizations must consider the change management required for successful intranet deployment and adoption, which can be the number one differentiating factor between a successful intranet deployment and a calamity.
“Organizations need to define a Change Management role on IT projects; someone removed from the technology to facilitate the cultural change around implementing a new solution. Having a person or a team solely responsibility to help manage change to get people on board will bridge gaps in structure and get away from a silo approach that most IT projects fall prey to. Organizations must remember the intranet is a system designed to service and engage the entire organization, which means more than just the IT department needs to be involved in planning, designing and integrating it for successful adoption across all departments and locations,” declares Michal Pisarek, Director of Product at Bonzai and 6-time Microsoft SharePoint MVP.
Is AI (Artificial Intelligence) ready to takeover?
AI (Artificial Intelligence) is one of the trendiest acronyms in tech at the moment. No matter which industry you are in, the thoughts and the possibilities of AI are lurking and endless. The digital workplace is no different, having great aspirations for AI, with potential applications far beyond the traditional confines of the intranet space.
"There's an underlying current in software development around the increasing need for people and skills around AI and IoT [Internet of Things], irrespective of their role to date. Customers, partners and suppliers will come to expect certain levels of automation and AI, even if you’re not a technology-first company traditionally," predicts Matthew Carriere, Director of Engineering at Bonzai.
There’s scope for artificial intelligence to be applied in the Digital Workplace to aid and facilitate human interactions and to fundamentally and contextually improve search functionality.
“The use of natural language queries/bots to search and perform functions will become more and more common. I’m not sure that it'll necessarily be mainstream in 2018, but it's gaining momentum and will continue to do so. We're investing in this ourselves with our own bot for Bonzai that allows users to ask questions and get answers without having to navigate a traditional website or user interface. We're also making huge improvements around search, for the next release of Bonzai, to try and leverage some of this,” shares Shereen Qumsieh, Director of Product Development at Bonzai and 2-time Microsoft SharePoint MVP.
The question remains, is 2018 the year that AI will transform the digital workplace and propel the technology sector into the future where artificial intelligence, machine learning and the internet of things will be able to fully substitute for the human workforce in these areas?
“As of now, AI is getting very close to providing real value in the Digital Workplace realm even though it is quite a new application of this technology for the employee experience. The ability to run AI over analytics or usage patterns can be used to help organizations best understand user patterns from a sea of data. Based on the analysis of what users are doing; AI applications can help with content presentation by presenting intuitive data to users or to better inform the organization what is or isn't working.” discloses Michal Pisarek, Director of Product at Bonzai.
Even with the opinion that meaningful AI is still a few years away, there are still areas where AI can help intranet platforms evolve today. “Heaps of Big Data have been collected over the past decade. Organizations are challenged with how to go about analyzing this data. AI has now evolved enough to help formulate the right questions to identify an anomalous piece of data within the ocean of big data,” comments Matthew Carriere, Director of Engineering at Bonzai.
Are chatbots the new help desk?
Chatbots, while not new to the tech world are infiltrating the intranet and digital workplace as an efficient tool to help users navigate, use and search the intranet more effectively. There is a great opportunity for chatbots to intersect the pull and push information economies on the intranet, as they act as an aid and a guide. Chatbots can not only help users find what they are looking for, but also notify users of news updates, policy changes and any other information deemed pertinent to all or a subset of end-users.
“Search capabilities on an intranet remain fundamental and of primary importance to organizations today. Customers want search to be fail proof. They want information immediately and accurately, just as they have become accustom to when using the world's most popular search engines. The expectations for search are great. Technology companies are currently investing heavily in research and development around AI to figure out the best ways to use AI and machine learning to better search. One means of leveraging machine learning to improve search is through the use of chatbots. However, today there is definitely more learning and evolving required before meaningful and practical applications of these technologies are at play in an intranet environment,” highlights Denise Ching, Director of Solution Delivery at Bonzai.
Today's Chatbot's Q&A capabilities can organize and streamline the information presented to users so that the data digging occurs in the back-end in the fraction of a second. Additionally, this can be performed while keeping in tune with user preferences for instantaneous information that is both intuitive and reliable.
Does the work environment change with technologies?
Research shows that productivity is higher for employees that have the ability to work from home. With the ever-growing trend towards remote workers and virtual offices, the need for an all-encompassing, trustworthy platform to act as the organization's Digital Workplace is growing at an exceptional rate.
While the concept of remote working isn’t new; the need for a central platform to meet these organizational requirements and to support a dynamic workforce continues to excel. With a shift towards remote working, the value of a robust, reliable intranet has increased and is vital to ensure staff are productive and retained. Employee engagement is fostered and encouraged when employees can easily access a reliable intranet platform. Organizations must continue to provide interactive, reliable intranet platforms that display the information that’s pertinent to the geographical location of each worker.
What's in store for Bonzai Intranet in 2018?
As showcased throughout this post and our accompanying The Future of Intranets, the Digital Workplace, AI, Chatbots & Beyond in 2018 [Part 2] post that will forecast further predictions, the Founders of Bonzai are constantly evaluating, learning and staying current with the rapidly evolving technologies that intersect, trend and impact today's workforce.
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Meet the Founders of Bonzai Intranet:
Denise Ching, Co-Founder & Director of Solution Delivery
Denise has a background as a Business Analyst, Project Manager and SharePoint Consultant to prepare her for her current role of Director of Solution Delivery at Bonzai Intranet.
Denise has the privilege of working with project stakeholders from a variety of industries to identify business needs, facilitate workshops, gather requirements, communicate change and new capabilities introduced by technology.
Matthew Carriere, Co-Founder & Director of Engineering
With over a decade of software development experience, Matthew prides himself on being able to lead through example, writing code alongside members of the Bonzai development team. Matthew works directly with the team, crafting the best possible solution that can be delivered efficiently and repeatedly.
Matthew is responsible for finding the right developers to cultivate and motivate their talents to deliver and continuously evolve the Bonzai platform to be the award-winning intranet it is today. This requires a deep technical understanding of the platform, the tools available to drive automation, as well as the capabilities of cloud technologies to improve efficiency and manage costs.
Michal Pisarek, Co-Founder, Director of Product
Michal is a 6-time Microsoft SharePoint MVP, an award that is given to experts in the Microsoft SharePoint community for sharing their passion, technical expertise and real-world knowledge. Michal's passion is in ensuring that SharePoint is seen primarily as a business platform so that organizations can take full advantage of the many capabilities that it offers. Acknowledged as a thought leader in the SharePoint space, he is a frequent speaker at many international events and has been referenced in publications and presentations by organizations such as Gartner and StepTwo.
Michal's passion to see organizations use SharePoint effectively led to him co-founding Bonzai. The company’s mission – and Michal’s – is to fundamentally change the way SharePoint is implemented around the world.
Shereen Qumsieh, Co-Founder, Director of Product Development
As Director of Product Development at Bonzai, Shereen works with her team to deliver an award-winning intranet platform that leverages the best functionality of Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 into an integrated, cohesive solution that better organizes, engages and connects organizations.