Workplace collaboration tools have been undergoing a seismic shift over the past few years. Even before Covid-19 struck, many companies had begun leveraging remote work to obtain a competitive advantage. However, in the wake of the pandemic, remote collaboration became more of a necessity, leading even more companies to turn to digital workplace solutions.
Moreover, innovations in technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and the Internet of Things (IoT) have also begun to be profitably applied to digital workplace solutions, resulting in the emergence of so-called intelligent workplaces.
A “standard” digital workplace integrates several key workplace technologies (such as email, sales tools, video conferencing tools, and many more) into a single platform, thus simplifying things for employees: they can access all the functionalities they need with a single login and password. An intelligent workplace goes one step further: it gathers various kinds of work-related data and acts on it intelligently in order to provide employees with a smoother and more intuitive experience.
In effect, an intelligent workplace is the end result of a company successfully applying digital transformation to its work environment. It leverages various emerging technologies to automate various work processes and implement workflows without a hitch.
What do intelligent workplaces look like?
Let’s take some concrete examples of what intelligent workplaces could look like.
A company could implement an intelligent digital assistant that interacts with each employee in a personalized manner. Such an assistant would use ML to learn the work patterns and requirements of each employee, Voice Recognition technology to understand spoken commands, and its connections with the rest of the digital workplace to schedule meetings, find information, or make phone calls when asked to.
Companies might also use a network of sensors to automatically regulate lighting and heating throughout their offices (e.g. if a conference room has been empty for more than ten minutes, its lights could be switched off automatically). They might also make use of devices and tools that are secure and usable from any location, which would mean that employees can seamlessly transition between working on-site and working remotely.
Lastly, companies can make use of powerful AI-based enterprise search to make sure employees find the right information or file whenever they need it. Such functionality can make a huge difference to employee productivity, and is worth examining in greater detail. Let’s start by looking at the problems associated with poorly-functioning enterprise search.
The downsides of ineffective enterprise search
Modern businesses are prone to something called ‘data sprawl’ and ‘data fragmentation’, both of which can hamper productivity.
Data sprawl refers to the sheer volume of data generated every day by companies, in a variety of different formats, through many different tools, and for several different purposes. Data fragmentation is what companies get when they have large amounts of often redundant data stored in multiple locations, thus making storage needlessly expensive and making it more difficult to find relevant information when required.
Enterprise search engines that are not very advanced may not be able to mitigate the impact of these two issues.
Some other issues that older, less effective enterprise search engines are unable to address are:
1. Handling unstructured data
As mentioned above, companies acquire data in a variety of formats and from a variety of sources. A lot of important kinds of data, such as emails or internal messages, might not be available in a structured form. Enterprise search engines that are unable to deal with such unstructured data will either fail to retrieve important pieces of information or take a long time to do so, thus slowing employees down.
2. Poor search performance
In fact, older keyword-based enterprise search engines will often fail to produce the most relevant search results in general.
3. Minimal data-based insights
Older search engines are not very good at drawing useful conclusions and providing insights by analyzing the search queries typed into them. Moreover, search engines that do collect and analyze such data but do not use AI or ML cannot fully take advantage of such data.
Thus, it should be clear that companies that do not invest in advanced enterprise search face relatively high expenses and lower levels of employee satisfaction and productivity. Conversely, the newer generation of “smart” (i.e. AI-based) search engines can have a huge positive impact on employee productivity. Let’s see how.
The impact of “smart” enterprise search on employee productivity
Smart enterprise search is a key component of an intelligent workplace. It enables companies to better tap into all of their accumulated data. This means that it is an important pillar of knowledge management, which is a set of methods that aim to systematize the creation, distribution, sharing and use of the informational assets of an organization.
With remote work becoming more and more widespread, knowledge management techniques have had to adapt to this new reality. And enabling a globally dispersed workforce to get quick, easy and secure access to the information they need for their jobs is clearly essential. And this is exactly what smart enterprise search accomplishes.
Let’s take a quick look at some of most important capabilities of smart enterprise search engines, which allow companies to increase savings and boost employee productivity:
1. An understanding of search intent
This is probably the most important differentiating factor between smart search engines and ordinary ones. Smart search engines use techniques from a branch of AI called Natural Language Processing (NLP) to “understand” the intent behind a search query.
This allows them to provide search results that are as relevant as possible. What this means for employees is that they no longer have to wade through a mass of unhelpful results to get what they want, and don’t have to keep refining their search queries to cater to their search engine’s limitations.
2. Continuous indexing of incoming data
As mentioned above, modern organizations gather huge amounts of data every day. Several smart search engines have the ability to tap into all this data and index it in real time. This means that the results employees get are guaranteed to be up-to-date.
3. Automatic self-improvement
By harnessing the power of ML, smart search engines can use search queries and employees’ pre- and post-search behaviors to keep getting better at providing relevant search results over time. Thus, over time, employees will have to spend less and less time looking for the right information!
Given that smart search engines are aware of the queries typed in by each employee, they can start seeing useful patterns in those queries and figure out what kinds of results would be most useful for a given employee. For instance, for a given query, a member of the sales team should ideally see sales-related results high up in the rankings, while a member of the marketing team should see marketing-oriented results high up.
5. Convenient UI and UX
Smart enterprise search engines bring together all the disparate strands of company information in one easy-to-navigate location. This is a huge time-saver for employees, as they no longer have to hop from platform to platform if they’re not sure where the information they want is located.
Help your employees thrive with smart enterprise search
Thus, it should be clear that smart enterprise search is a vital part of developing an intelligent workplace. Given the importance and breadth of the intellectual capital of organizations, it is important to maximize its utility by making sure no part of it becomes difficult to access due to poor search.
If you’re looking for an AI-driven enterprise search engine to increase your company’s savings and improve your employees’ productivity, you might want to try out Zevi. Zevi uses NLP and ML to provide personnel with highly relevant and ever-improving search results. Set up your free trial today!