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If you are already tired of listening to the ongoing discourse about the future of work, you could well be on to something. In fact, according to recent research from IDC, the future is here and the "future of work" is already happening.

As evidence, it points to the fact that modern organizations are looking to not only continually increase the percentage of completely automated processes, but to also augment processes already automated.

Behind this is the drive to increase customer satisfaction using automation. As a result, the report entitled Content Intelligence for the Future of Work (registration required) which gathered together the results of a survey of 500 influencers and decision makers, anticipates a 50 percent increase in the contribution of digital to the workplace within the next two years.

Dig a bit deeper and you see that 27% believe technology will be used to analyze information over the coming year resulting in a 20 percent growth in the use of technology in reasoning and decision making.  It also predicts the use of AI in the digital workplace, but not as a way to replace humans. Instead, it sees machine learning use growing in the digital workplace to help employees with their work.

Other findings in the report indicated that:

  1. 75% of respondents said their organization was finding it difficult to recruit digital skills
  2. Over 20% cite inadequate worker skills and/or training as an obstacle
  3. The top three corporate initiatives enabled by content intelligence are employee engagement, customer engagement and digital transformation
  4. The top three applications that consume the data generated by content intelligence are customer relationship management, business intelligence and risk management
  5. The average expected increase in spending for content intelligence technologies over the next year is 31%.

“A growing number of employees will find themselves working side-by-side with a digital coworker in the future as technology automates many work activities,” said Holly Muscolino of IDC, in a statement about the ABBYY-sponsored report.

However, there will be no rush-to-the-bottom here. Instead, Bruce Orcutt, senior vice president of product marketing at Milpitas, Calif.-based ABBYY explained, ethical, responsible automation will create a more productive, happier future where human workers can focus on higher-level, creative and socially responsible tasks, and customers get better experiences with faster service.

Businesses that are early-adopters of incorporating content intelligence within their automation platforms will gain a significant competitive edge.

It’s an interesting read for any enterprise looking at the use of AI and machine learning in the digital workplace, which at this point in time is just about any enterprise that is looking at automating its processes. It's worth a read.

Microsoft Vs. Slack – Again!

It wouldn't be a week in the digital workplace without some mention about the ongoing jostling between Microsoft, Slack, Google and the other players in the enterprise collaboration space. This week it's the turn – again! – of Microsoft Teams and Slack.

One of the biggest issues in recent years has been the ongoing problems identifying market penetration. However, there have been figures on who is using what, largely provided by the vendors themselves. This week’s figures are no different. In a recent blog post, Microsoft 365 corporate vice president Jared Spataro announced that Microsoft's Teams business communication software had grown to over 20 million daily active users (DAUs).

The growth is stunning to say the least, especially given the fact that in July, during the Q4 conference call on the year’s financial results, Microsoft claimed that it had 13 million DAU’s, which means that the figures release by Spataro represent an increase of over 50 percent.

Slack, for its part, announced in October that its (DAU) count crossed 12 million mark, up 37 percent on the previous quarter. More to the point Slack claims that its users love using it. In a post at the time, Slack claimed: When we talk about daily active users, we mean a user who has either created or consumed content in Slack within a given 24-hour period on either a free or paid subscription plan. In September 2019, we exceeded 12 million daily active users, including nearly 600,000 daily active registered developers.

Spartaro’s blog post is interesting for other reasons though. He pointed out that Teams users start with simple text-based chat, they quickly move on to richer forms of communication and collaboration.  More to the point, it identified what, he claims, is the five keys to a successful team. These keys include:

  1. Team purpose: Keeps teams focused, fulfilled, and aligned on achieving their objectives.
  2. Collective identity: Fosters a sense of belonging and helps team members work together as a unit.
  3. Awareness and inclusion: Enables teams to navigate interpersonal dynamics and value everyone’s perspective.
  4. Trust and vulnerability: Encourages interpersonal risk-taking in teams.
  5. Constructive tension: Serves as a generative force for new ideas, driving better outcomes.

And crucially he wrote: “With Teams, our customers are breaking through the artificial boundaries created by standalone or loosely coupled collaboration tools and working together in new ways. Their stories bring the five attributes of successful teams to life and paint a picture of what is possible.”

Whether you accept Microsoft’s figures or not is not important here, especially given that Teams comes with many of the Office 365 packages, which could give it an elevated DAU. What is important is the perceived attributes of a successful team and how to build. No doubt this is not the last word in this, so watch out for Slack’s response.

OpenText Buys Carbonite, but Why?

Elsewhere, Ontario-based OpenText has just made another major play in the cybersecurity space. This time it’s focus is on Carbonite, a Boston-based cybersecurity company, which it has bought for $1.42 billion.

OpenText CEO Mark Barrenechea says Carbonite will become the company’s ninth cloud acquisition, and that the purchase represents a continuation of OpenText’s total growth strategy. In a recent statement about the sale, he explained that Carbonite will be used to protect OpenText’s portfolio of information management technologies and strengthen its position in the cloud. He said, “Cloud platforms and secured, smart end-points are essential Information Management technologies as businesses transform into Industry 4.0. This acquisition will further strengthen OpenText as a leader in cloud platforms, complete end-point security and protection, and will open a new route to connect with customers, through Carbonite’s marquee SMB/prosumer channel and products.”

The acquisition of Carbonite is expected to extend OpenText’s reach in the Enterprise Information Management (EIM) market by complementing OpenText’s security offerings in data loss prevention, digital forensics, end-point detection and response with the addition of Carbonite’s data protection and end-point security solutions.

The acquisition also adds significantly to OpenText’s Cloud business and further complements OpenText’s routes to market, strong enterprise customer base in the Global10K, enhanced SMB and prosumer markets.

OpenText has been on the acquisition trail for quite a while now and always with the goal of making its cloud-based information management offerings more attractive. With security at a premium now, this buy will be an important one for everyone.

Google Buys CloudSimple

Finally this week, and staying with acquisitions, Mountain View, Calif.-based Google has announced that it has bought CloudSimple which develops high performance, dedicated environments to run VMware workloads in the cloud. According to Google the acquisition builds on its existing partnership with CloudSimple, which was announced earlier this year.

Google explained that many enterprises are using VMware in their on-premises environments to run a variety of workloads: business applications such as ERP and CRM; databases such as Oracle and SQL Server; development and test environments; virtual desktops; and reporting and analytics systems. The result is that Google customers will be able to migrate their VMware workloads from on-premises datacenters directly into Google Cloud VMware Solution by CloudSimple, while also creating new VMware workloads as needed.

Their apps can run exactly the same as they have been on-premises, but with all the benefits of the cloud, like performance, elasticity, and integration with key cloud services and technologies.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.