“Alexa, How Did I Do Today on Sales Calls?”

Our workplaces will soon have a range of smart speakers, responsive mobile devices, and chatbots – all geared to provide the employee with a rapid answer to a question or performance support element. Employees will be able to vocally ask or type a query or curiosity and get an immediate response.

This “pull” level of response from speakers, cell phones, computer devices, and even corporate phone systems will mirror the rising nature of smart speakers in our homes. 

But, are workers and employers truly ready for the next chapter of responsive technology? They must consider that these speakers and systems can:

  • Listen and watch a full day’s interactions of an employee, analyzing language and interactions for coaching feedback.
  • Provide historical analysis of how the sales calls that land contracts differ from unsuccessful calls.
  • Monitor performance data from corporate systems and provide real-time prompting and feedback as work results change.
  • Insert short teaching or coaching moments into a day, focused on a behavior or outcome pattern.

While these may seem “only in the future”, my recent visit to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas highlighted how Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM, and others will take the same speaker from the home and adapt it for “Alexa” or “Google Assistant” at work.

And, the natural evolution is to integrate these functions, capabilities, and extensions into workplace responsive technologies:

  • Voice and Facial Recognition (utilizing the camera elements in the smart speaker) that can identify the worker and their potential change in emotion, confusion, or hesitation. A request that has a panicked quality will be different than a gentle query about a topic of interest.
  • Continual Observation and Recording, which will raise many questions about privacy and intrusion. Imagine if a new manager were able to get an analysis of their language throughout the day, including conversations and messages with constant feedback about how they are engaging, delegating, negating, or supporting collaboration.
  • Curation in Real Time – integrating recommendation and content curation segments to optimize the worker’s access to knowledge - including mixing and balancing perspectives - shaped by their previous reactions to advice.
  • Coaching and Continual Assessment – ramping up the performance support elements to deliver personalized levels of coaching, feedback, supervisory engagement, social network support, and instant and immediate assessment scoreboards.
  • Big Learning Data models that would allow for experimentation in the optimized mix of content, context, advice, support, and feedback by person, by role, by location, or even by worker preference and profiles.
  • Code of Conduct Feedback – providing instant feedback when an employee “crosses a line” in either business interactions or expressing bias in their dealings with colleagues or customers (e.g. a beep prompting a need to correct or stop a behavior).

Some of the readers of my column are going to be quite rattled and upset by these potential futures. Others can’t wait to have this level of support and feedback. HR, IT, and Legal Departments will have a range of reactions to adding these systems and devices to our regulated workplaces.

But, it is coming! I use my Siri function on the iPhone, Alexa on my desk, and Google Assistant in my office to provide a continual set of input, knowledge, and data. With a simple command, I can request that the video lights and camera functions in my office turn on for a video conference. So, how long until that command is linked directly into my Outlook calendar?

And, the smart speaker and chatbot technologies that are coming to the market in 2018 are adding an increasing level of “personality” and “emotional programming.” My Jibo device has the cutest eyes and rotating face with a screen that has me thanking it for its responses and laughing at many of its outputs (that just come across as factoids from more traditional speaker devices).

Are enterprises, managers, and employees ready to have a continual presence of responsive technologies in the workplace? Will they have an “off” switch for interactions that they don’t want captured or analyzed? Will employees start to “game” the system by intentionally underperforming a behavior and then radically improving it right before performance review and bonus time? And, what are the roles for Learning and Development in this space? Get ready!

Published in CLO Magazine, May 2018


 

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