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  • Collaboration tools and digital software have been around for over two decades and they have been instrumental in evolving the way work is done across the globe. The digital transformation journey fueled by online collaboration tools and digital workplaces are proven by research to increase the productivity of a company by almost 20-30 percent. We have come a long way from depending on email and excel sheets to managing all work on digital tools. And yet, there’s a lot of scope to expand and grow in this landscape. The ideal digital workplace is one with a seamless tight-knit collaboration and engagement platform and in the current scenario we are far from the ideal. Where are we headed in this journey? What are the pragmatic outcomes? What gaps and shortcomings in organizational systems can hinder this progress? Let us look at the major trends, their current status and different aspects that might affect them in the year 2019.   Distributed teams Unlike a decade back, employees are no more restricted to working under a single roof. The concept of distributed teams and spillage of talent across the globe, or even working in third space workplaces has become quite a norm. And with these distributed teams comes the challenge of having every person of the team on the same page. Silos in collaboration and operational tools only create unnecessary barriers to the already persisting geographical barrier. A recent Workforce Futures study showed that while enterprise managers allowed employees to work remotely, they were not equipped with the necessary tools by their organizations. Of the total 6600 employees, 44 percent believed that a remote working environment was not championed by their executives, and 38 percent said that they were not equipped with the necessary technology to work effectively when remote. A well-coordinated platform to communicate and work is an absolute necessity to help achieve productivity without hindrances of the geographical boundaries. With more of such distributed teams, we need to have corporate data accessibility and sharing outside the company’s firewall which is both seamless and secure. AI and ML getting stronger Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) is being increasingly integrated in a range of business operations across organizations. According to a study , 46 percent of global businesses have already adopted AI. 43% of decision makers see AI having a positive impact, and only 3% of business leaders think that it will have a negative impact. But, AI had its shortcomings in 2018, it was too horizontal in terms of usability, lacked proper information architecture and saw data governance issues. Data is key to companies making decisions about product, services, strategy, customer and employee experience. There is a lot of data on hand but research shows that only 1 percent of data is being used effectively. The GDPR enforcement and growing security concerns will hopefully pave the way for a better data governance system in organizations. In 2019, we hope to overcome these limitations and implement extensive use cases with AI and ML. Customer support can be improved by using AI-enabled systems which recognize customers and provide the customer history, transaction details and contextual cases to help the support agent to solve and offer better products/ services to the customer. Sales personnel can save time and effort by getting accurate sales data on prospects and customers using AI-enabled sales intelligence tools. Project managers can better manage available resources based on real-time information about workload, skills and context to plan projects accurately. The rise of workplace chatbots and RPAs Chatbots or conversational user interfaces come with a promise to make our work lives easier. They are designed to tackle information overload and simplify service provisions. Similarly, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) take care of all the grunt work where a predefined set of rules help manage all repetitive work, documentation and tasks with the goal of saving time, achieving consistency and error-free results. However, both chatbots and RPAs have a long way to go before we start getting the output and experience that has been expected out of them. A survey by chatbots.org showed that consumers are not very happy with the current state of chatbots. Around 53 percent of those surveyed found chatbots to be “not effective” or “somewhat effective”, whereas 22 percent had an opinion that “bots weren’t smart enough”. Taking into consideration the user value proposition we can utilize chatbots in a variety of everyday work tasks like managing support, organizing documentation, taking care of compliance etc. With the advent of 2019, we can hope for better designed and more effective chatbots at our workplaces. Virtual and Augmented Reality Virtual Reality software (VR) has been in the news for some years now, poised as a major transformational thing of the future. But, VR did not see much utility and adoption with businesses and consumers. Augmented Reality (AR) has slowly but steadily climbed its way up. The AR market globally was valued at $3.33 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach approximately $133.78 billion in 2021, growing at a CAGR of above 85.2 percent in the duration of 2016 - 2021. Whereas, VR is predicted to reach $7.17 billion by the end of 2019 and close to $75 billion by 2021. With distributed teams becoming a norm across companies, the technologies enabling VR and AR are proving to be useful for businesses. Even with employees not present in the same physical spaces, communication is still possible. Immersive boardroom experiences, changing backgrounds, cataloging body language, supporting avatars are some of the things that are practically made possible by VR and AR. In an ideal digital environment, we would like to reap the results of chatbots, RPAs, AI, VR and AR collectively. Making better cognitive decisions for complex, multi-channel operations. Digital transformation is rapidly changing the way we work, in every industry across different stakeholders. These technology trends are paving a way for bigger and more impactful technologies of the future.
    Highlights New look and feel for statistics New functionality: Configure website pages with pre-styled sections and settings New look and feel for statistics If you are a frequent user of metrics and statistics then the latest revamp of the statistics panel is going to make your work much better. A major change in the statistics panel is that you can now check the metrics for yourself as well as for other users in the hive. Thus, giving you an overview of the way work is progressing. The statistics on Projects, Sales, Support and Billing together give you insights on workload, timeliness of work, sales deals status, SLA compliance and transaction metrics. The table view on the Projects page has been improved so that you can get a quick overview of the overall status and priorities of your tasks. The "Overall Deals Size" section in the statistics on Sales page has been improved with a filter to view by currency. To give you a glimpse of the improvements, we have attached sample screens of the Projects statistics panel. For more details, check the statistics panel of various app pages in your hive. New functionality: Configure website pages with pre-styled sections and settings If you are using Crrux to manage a website and having an online identity is important to you, then this update will help enhance the overall look of your website and the various pages.    We have added a number of settings to help you showcase your business and give focus to what matters most to you. You now have the ability to add pre-styled sections to construct your web pages as desired.   An array of section layouts have been added on every page so that you can add sections with different layouts according to the website content you wish to display.     Options to configure each section like align your title, descriptions and images to suit your requirement.  The image below shows the different section layouts available.       You can experiment with different colors, frames, background images for all your website pages. As well as add and remove sections, columns, rows and display cards to suit your requirements. Check the image below for a glimpse of the new settings.      
      The Digital Workplace - Building a more productive digital work environment service by service from Oscar Berg Crrux is designed with an objective to provide a seamless yet lean way to work as a collective cutting across teams and processes to plan, engage, sell, and support  customers for success.  It helps you manage the crux of your work holistically across your employees, partners or communities. Give it a try!
    Growth and revenues of organizations today are highly influenced by the use of technology at work. Innovations, seamless collaborations, automations all add up to yielding operational efficiencies and thereby higher ROIs. Though the number of organizations going the digital path is increasing like never before, yet 70% of digital transformation projects are expected to fail and there are quite a number factors that organizations need to take into consideration while implementing these digital projects. Businesses are failing to adopt technology to automate critical business functions. The top reasons according to a research by Harvard Business Review Analytics Services (HBR) include the inability to experiment quickly, legacy systems, inability to work across silos, a risk-averse culture and the lack of corporate vision for digital. Taking these steps to mitigate obstacles might help your business to transition smoothly:        1. Assess the scale and scope :  It is important for management teams looking to have a digital workplace to first understand the goals of the organization and existing skill sets of the employees. This would help determine the right technology that can help evolve the business and achieve the desired objectives.        2. Make a narrative to drive change : Have a clear and effective message across the organization's communication channels to drive your digital transformation initiative. A strong narrative is often the starting point to bring about an effective change. Engage the top leaders of the organization to communicate and drive the message.        3. The learning curve : When a new technology is introduced, more often the most difficult part is adoption. The effectiveness of a digital change is more about the people of the organization than the technology in use. Change is accepted in different ways by different people, the transformation strategy should take into consideration each employee, a half-baked attempt is equal to not attempting at all. It is necessary to have a training program along with consistent communication across the organization to engage and support your employees to embrace the change. The shift to a digitally transformed workplace is definitely not an easy one, but if implemented the right way it will be an integral and fruitful asset to our organizations in the near future.
    We are living in times where artificial intelligence (AI) is fast becoming a practical reality of our daily lives. What once seemed to be a far-fetched notion is slowly trickling in our day-to-day functioning.    The impact will not just be on our lifestyles but the way we earn and run businesses too. Experts have strong predictions and opinions of how it would affect our future. With automation taking over, a number of manual tasks or number crunching roles will be seen discarded from our organizations. AI will make us more productive and save tons of labor time and effort, on the other hand, we will also suffer as people either lose their livelihood or get thrust into jobs with completely different skill requirements.  According to the latest research report by McKinsey & Company, many developed nations are actively exploring and preparing for the AI revolution, these economies are getting their functions aligned for the transformation and impact that entails AI. Whereas, not much discussion is seen in the developing nations regarding AI, both from the benefit and risk side. In such a scenario of unpreparedness, not much will be gained from AI, instead, a major backlash and resentment will follow as the developed nations prosper through AI.  To know more of what the report predicts, read this article: If Artificial Intelligence Only Benefits a Select Few, Everyone Loses
      The Indian parable of the six blind men and the elephant gives us an important lesson as to how being selectively focused can be misleading when it comes to considering the bigger picture. In the story, every man feels only one part of the elephant and thereby describes the same to the others as if it was the whole.  This concept applies to our businesses as well, every department applies and focuses its digital work environment to their own benefit, thus losing the focus of entirety at an organizational level.  Read more about how ownership of the digital work environment brings about the desired results, in this article:  The 6 blind men and the digital workplace.     
    January 26, 2018 by Niall Ferguson on BigThink A libertarian utopia of free and equal netizens—all interconnected, sharing all available data with maximum transparency and minimal privacy settings—has a certain appeal, especially to the young. It is romantic to imagine these netizens, like the workers in [Fritz] Lang’s "Metropolis", spontaneously rising up against the world’s corrupt elites, then unleashing the might of artificial intelligence to liberate themselves from the drudgery of work, too. Those who try to look forward without looking back very easily fall into the trap of such wishful thinking.  Since the mid-1990s, computer scientists and others have fantasized about the possibility of a 'global brain'—a self- organizing 'planetary superorganism'. In 1997 Michael Dertouzos looked forward to an era of 'computer-aided peace'. 'New information technologies open up new vistas of non-zero sumness,' wrote one enthusiast in 2000. Governments that did not react swiftly by decentralizing would be 'swiftly...punished'. N. Katherine Hayles was almost euphoric. 'As inhabitants of globally interconnected networks,' she wrote in 2006, 'we are joined in a dynamic co evolutionary spiral with intelligent machines as well as with the other biological species with whom we share the planet.'  This virtuous upward spiral would ultimately produce a new 'cognisphere'. Three years later, Ian Tomlin envisioned 'infinite forms of federations between people...that overlook...differences in religion and culture to deliver the global compassion and cooperation that is vital to the survival of the planet'. 'The social instincts of humans to meet and share ideas,' he declared, 'might one day be the single thing that saves our race from its own self destruction.'  'Informatization,' wrote another author, would be the third wave of globalization. 'Web 3.0' would produce 'a contemporary version of a "Cambrian explosion"' and act as 'the power-steering for our collective intelligence'. Read full article here: " Can Silicon Valley save the world? Or are social networks ruining everything? "
    Today, organizations are fast moving towards adopting intuitive digital means of communication and collaboration. We want solutions that reduce the friction that comes with using different tools, and instead have a perfect blend of technology, physical workplace and today's culture.  The "Technology Maturity Framework" gives us categories of adoption of a digital workplace for organizations.  Whether you are gradually getting introduced to digital tools and the idea of  seamless collaboration or you have it integrated in your business strategy and workflow, a number of factors determine the successful implementation of a digital workplace.   Read in detail and know where your company stands in this CIO article: Where is your company on the path to optimizing a collaborative digital workplace?
    A short video by Gartner telling us about the upcoming trends involving immersive technology, artificial intelligence, continuous adaptive security and other technological advancements, which are the foundation for the next generation of digital ecosystems.     
    Digital transformation is an imperative but success rates are low, why? Its because we are unable to overcome the inertia to think fresh.  Rather than applying common sense to innovate and solve problems, we wish to just apply multiple cool tools in different categories and hope for success, which evidently is not happening . You may look at some digital transformation trends for 2018 and beyond in this CIO article, to see what is on organization's radars right now,  as well as once hot initiatives that are beginning to cool down. The most important trend that is cooling down for good is using multiple tools for collaboration. These silos of  cool tools are actually hampering productivity. Excerpts from the article: The days of using lots of different collaboration tools are numbered, observers say. In one company alone, you might find Slack, Chatter, Yammer, Microsoft Teams, Office 365 Groups, Trello, Office Planner, LinkedIn communities, and countless other offerings. While the competition may prompt new levels of utility and innovation, “it's driving users and IT crazy,’’ says Mike Fitzmaurice, vice president of workflow technology at Nintex. “We're approaching the point where organizations are going to have to pick winners and invest in their usage and adoption, or people are going to give up and go back to email.” When figuring out which tool to use takes more time than doing the actual work, Fitzmaurice says, “we have paralysis, not productivity.” Its time to think of new age tools like Crrux, that are designed and developed to make us collaborate seamlessly and for the purpose of having a seamless customer and employee experience.