As BlueJeans thinks about the future of work in 2018 and beyond, we recognize that the working environment is changing rapidly. Success will hinge on our ability to execute our ideas—not on our ability to show up to our desk each day. The cloud will continue to provide business solutions that will allow us to fully integrate between social technologies and platforms, and technologies will be used to unite us in new ways.
BlueJeans is the meetings platform for the modern workplace, and we’re always looking ahead to the next innovative thing. BlueJeans was the first to connect Skype to conference rooms, the first to bring desktop, mobile, and room systems into one video meeting, and the first to offer interactive participation in large-format events. As we move ahead and anticipate the needs of tomorrow’s workers, BlueJeans is proud to be the first to partner with Voicera to provide in-meeting transcription powered by an artificial intelligence platform called Eva.
Available to all BlueJeans users, Eva participates in your meeting by taking notes, providing a fully searchable transcript with word-cloud, and highlighting key moments, all of which can easily be shared with others. Using the service allows you to connect what happens in your meetings to the rest of your work day, and ultimately make your meetings more actionable.
This is just one example of what superior AI can do for workers in 2018. As David Wiener, CPO of Voicera, explains below, AI is ready to take over the workplace. Eva is only the tip of the iceberg.
David Wiener runs Product at Voicera. Previously, he was Vice President at Oracle, overseeing global product for the Oracle Data Cloud. At Oracle he was responsible for pulling together the acquisitions of BlueKai, Datalogix, AddThis, and Crosswise. Prior to Oracle, David oversaw Product at BlueKai. David makes sure business is in check, that products ship, and the engineering keeps their house in order. He also gets pretty crafty when he needs a hotfix pushed out.
"Over the last decade or so, innovation in the workplace has been stodgy and, frankly, a bit boring—mostly, it’s been an afterthought. Office space planners, IT leaders, Human Resource professionals, and brand marketers have all been dragged (and many times resisted) by employees toward making the workplace feel more like the living room. Cubicle walls have been torn down as part of the ‘open floorplan’ fad (which, like all good fads, has seen a recent backlash). IT departments begrudgingly overcame the security fears of the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ revolution, foregoing the locked-down Blackberry device and adding support for (gasp) Apple products. Human Resources have worked hard to focus on a friendlier, homier “candidate experience.” Policies toward employee social media usage have also relaxed, with the prevailing trend that it is a net-benefit to have employees become brand evangelists. Out with the professional dress code and in with a more ‘relaxed’ style.
Many of these ‘innovations’ have been incremental in nature—not since the deployment of the Internet-connected PC within the workplace has there been such a transformative innovation within the enterprise. This is not about being able to use the latest gadget at work, or forcing colleagues to rub elbows at their desks (both important, but incremental innovations). The groundswell of enterprise-geared artificial intelligence products that is forming is going to hit the workplace like a tsunami. The companies left standing will be the ones that not only adopt, but truly embrace, the idea that artificial intelligence can augment every aspect of the workplace—not threaten it.
The future of work will be a place with three key characteristics. First, administrative tasks will take a back seat and machines will take a primary role in accomplishing mundane and time-consuming tasks. Second, the employee’s role will transition from being the producer to the curator and overseer, placing larger emphasis on creative and outside-the-box thinking. Finally, machines will replace some mundane roles, but will not ultimately seek to replace humans. Instead, machines will augment users with an AI-exoskeleton, increasing human productivity exponentially.
Work of the Future: Administrative Tasks Will Become Intelligent and Automated
Workers spend a tremendous amount of time and huge sums of money on manual administrative tasks that are not part of their core job function. By some estimates, this can be between two to three days per week for managers, amounting to around $575 billion a year spent on administrative tasks in just the United States. Step back and think about the kinds of things you spend time doing on a weekly basis: filling out spreadsheets; crunching data to create charts and reports; scheduling meetings; taking notes and then formatting, copying, pasting, and entering those notes into a variety of disconnected corporate systems; booking and managing travel; setting up conferencing systems and juggling conference rooms; submitting expense reports… the list goes on and on.
These are the kinds of tasks employees bear the brunt of today, and they make the perfect kinds of problems that artificial intelligence will solve for in the future. Your calendar will know when you’re busy or free, how to prioritize the most important meetings, whether you have enough time to travel to a customer across town, and when you need downtime. It will learn to respond to meeting invitations accordingly. Your conference calls and meetings will be recorded and automatically transcribed, with the most important action items and decisions getting pushed into your task list manager and CRM systems. They might even automatically identify commitments and remind you to take care of them before they’re due.
Booking travel and reporting expenses will become more automated and intelligent, booking you on your preferred airline, with your preferred seat, hotel arrangements, and car rental, and filing expense reports for you automatically. Saying that machines will perform those tasks for us may sound like science fiction, but we’re not all that far off; the Associated Press made waves when it started producing earnings call reports within moments of the calls ending, entirely powered by artificial intelligence — allowing it to increase the number of companies it can cover by 12x.
Employee of the Future: From Producers to Overseers
Machines are fantastic and highly efficient producers, and as workflows become more interconnected, tasks become more automated. Machine-based outputs start to become prevalent. The employee of the future will need not take on the burden of wrangling massive data sets, formatting documents, keeping multiple systems up to date—all of this will happen behind the scenes. Machines will struggle with the human touch aspects of intuition, creativity, culture, and context.
Imagine having a computer lead a creative brainstorming session or apply some tribal knowledge to a business decision. Employees will take on the more significant role of analyzing and making sense of the automated processes and reports, making business decisions, or providing feedback to the automated tools in order to help them learn and adapt. This data-driven decision-making muscle has atrophied as a result of being so busy with menial tasks and will require new training. In marketing, for example, there is always a tension to ‘continue doing what has always worked’ versus ‘trying something new to find the next promotion or creative message’. These are the kinds of decisions that, while data driven, are much better suited for humans to answer. How might a machine best decide how to build a trustworthy fashion brand, for example?
Workforce of the Future: The Artificial Intelligence Exoskeleton
Here at Voicera, we have talked previously about the AI Exoskeleton, and many have speculated about the impact that this will have on the workforce of the future. Instead of thinking about replacement and cost-cutting, the most innovative approaches will work to better leverage human capabilities. As the skillsets of employees begin to evolve, the divide between the technical, the quantitative, and the creative employees will begin to close. Any given team will not only be staffed with subject-matter experts in a given domain, but also be staffed by engineers and data scientists, which is precisely what KPMG is starting to do.
This blended workforce will be even more reliant on strong communication skills and will empower employees to experiment with new ideas, which, once proven effective, can get automated. Many companies are starting to understand that artificial intelligence, coupled with the right amount of human oversight, is the winning approach. Does that mean that the current set of jobs are safe from replacement? No. This is certain to be a tumultuous process of creative destruction, but the most effective framework is one that emphasizes human advantages instead of focusing solely on cost savings.
While this vision of the workplace of the future might seem outrageous, history, technology, and raw human ambition and creativity have a funny way of making the naysayers in the rearview mirror look a bit foolish. Imagine telling people just a decade or two ago that their mainframe terminals would be small enough to fit on their wrist and be connected to the Internet—the inconceivable has a striking way of becoming the new norm."
David mentions that his predictions may seem a bit outrageous, but at BlueJeans we believe in what he has to say. Join us on this journey as we both adopt and embrace what artificial intelligence has to offer workers and enterprises alike.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to take advantage of the meeting transcription features currently available only through this partnership between BlueJeans and Voicera. With the ability to search and create highlights for moments you may have missed, as well as download the complete text of the meeting, we’re certain you’ll find Eva useful to you and your business.
About the Author
Steve Weinstock is responsible for Business Development and Integration Partnerships at BlueJeans Network. He has worked at BlueJeans for over two years, primarily working with companies whose solutions augment the BlueJeans Meetings platform. Prior to joining BlueJeans, Steve held business development and strategic alliances positions with Avaya, ShoreTel, and others. When not working with partners, Steve enjoys his family and dogs, hiking, trail running, and competing in Spartan Races.Follow on Twitter More Content by Steve Weinstock