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Maximo Castagno, Chief Product Officer at Beezy, explored digital employee experience (DEX) and Beezy’s evolution to the intelligent workplace over two separate sessions in the DWG Institute Technology Lab held in September 2020. This post explores some of the main takeaways and insights. Recordings are also included.

Beezy’s perspectives on digital employee experience

A core aim of the DWG Technology and Research Institute is to bring technology providers and practitioners together so they can learn from each other. One of our most exciting formats for this is the Technology Lab, a two-day event held each quarter where we hear from a variety of fascinating speakers with diverse perspectives.

Our latest Technology Lab titled “Digital Employee Experience (DEX) in transition” delivered a range of strong insights. These included contributions from Beezy, a major player in the employee experience platform space.

The main speaker from Beezy was Maximo Castagno, Chief Product Officer. Over two separate sessions, Maximo was interviewed about his thoughts on digital employee experience and then gave a presentation about Beezy’s evolution to an intelligent workplace.

Here are six takeaways from Maximo’s sessions.

1. Employees don’t want more tools – they want tools that work

A recurring theme through both days of the Technology Lab was the proliferation of tools throughout the digital workplace, something that has a significant negative effect on digital employee experience. Maximo reflected on the “Paradox of Choice” and how sometimes having too many options can negatively impact employees, producing anxiety about the options on offer. Related issues include overload and technostress.

Maximo observed that employees are not asking for more tools, but want fewer tools that actually work well. Here, Maximo cited Jakob Nielsen, who once suggested there should be a moratorium on new software features and that instead the focus should be on solving issues and improved usability; although this was not a serious suggestion, there was perhaps a grain of truth running through it.

DWG Institute Technology Lab Sep 2020, Day 1: Beezy’s perspective on DEX

2. There are four eras of the intranet and digital workplace

It was fascinating to hear about the evolution of the Beezy platform and how it mirrors the overall evolution of intranets, digital workplaces and digital employee experience. Maximo explained that there have been four different eras:

  • Information: when it was more about providing access to information and documents.
  • Communication: intranets emerged as a vehicle for employee communications.
  • Collaboration: collaboration and two-way communication were integrated into the intranet experience.
  • Transactions: employees get things done by interacting with systems.

In the present day we are very much in the era of “transactions” with alerts, notifications, approvals, big data and automation increasingly part of our digital employee experience. Maximo suggested that “Intelligence” will be the element that will take digital employee experience to the next level.

DWG Institute Technology Lab Sep 2020, Day 2: Beezy’s evolution to an intelligent workplace

3. The Intelligent Workplace is about better tools not new tools

Echoing the thoughts from the earlier “Illuminate” session on Day One, Maximo reflected that the Intelligent Workplace and the evolution of Beezy’s platform is much more about effective tools than new ones. This aligns to the things that users actually want – tools that will be highly effective and help them complete tasks and achieve goals.

Maximo illustrated this with examples of intelligent solutions that are working today, such as auto-tagging and nudges to improve people’s profile completion; these are not new, but more intelligent approaches are arguably making them more effective.

4. The Microsoft Graph and other frameworks are fuelling the intelligent workplace

Because Beezy’s platform is based on Microsoft technologies and works alongside Microsoft 365, it leverages various intelligent frameworks from Microsoft, including the Graph, Azure Cognitive Services and the LUIS Natural Language Understanding Services. The Graph, in particular, takes many data inputs based on an individual’s user behaviour and contributions across Microsoft 365 to work out the proximity of employees to each other, relevant documents and more, allowing it to make intelligent suggestions that are relevant to a user. Other services have capabilities such as extracting relevant subject keywords from a block of text or carrying out translations. Using API calls to these services means that the Beezy platform can start to deliver various “intelligent” results.

5. Combining capabilities results in more intelligent and powerful solutions

Another interesting concept explored by Maximo was how combining capabilities means you can start to deliver more solutions. Several features within the Beezy platform combine the power of the Microsoft Graph or Azure Cognitive Services with insights from the Beezy platform to provide more relevant and actionable results.

A use case was given as an example: in order to “nudge” people into completing their people profiles, it can be highly effective to show an individual relevant contacts who have recently updated their own profiles, making that person more likely to follow suit. Here the Beezy platform sends a call to the Graph API to fetch details of people connected to the individual. This information is then combined with people who have recently completed or updated their profile on the Beezy platform.

A similar example was given where someone contributing content to an intranet could have a relevant image to use in the story suggested to them. This works through the content being sent to Azure Cognitive Services to extract keywords, which are then combined with a SharePoint search through a digital asset management system or similar, so relevant images can be suggested for inclusion in the story.

It was also shown that combining human interaction and judgement with intelligent solutions makes them more effective. For example, Beezy’s auto-tagging suggests tags to humans who can swiftly select the ones they want to use as part of the content management process.

6. Intelligent automation has four elements

Finally, Maximo talked about a Beezy feature called Action Cards, which brings intelligent notifications to the digital workplace; these “cards” appear in activity threads and present information and calls to action to employees. The cards combine four different elements:

  • Intelligent: The card might be triggered by Beezy’s intelligent engine working in the background, perhaps leveraging Microsoft services.
  • Contextual: Real-time information is displayed from a relevant system.
  • Actionable: Calls to action can be presented to advance the workflow.
  • Social: Conversations can be added to the card for discussion and further context for the workflow.

Our thanks to Maximo and team at Beezy for their great contributions.

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About the author

Steve-BynghallSteve Bynghall is a freelance consultant, researcher and writer specializing in the digital workplace, intranets, knowledge management, collaboration and other digital themes. He is DWG’s Research and Knowledge Lead, a benchmark evaluator and research analyst for DWG. Steve previously worked at accountancy firm BDO in a variety of knowledge roles, including managing its global extranet programme.

Connect with Steve on Twitter: @bynghall or on Google +.

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