Enterprise hits and misses - the future of work vs mental health, Macy's vs reality, and AI vs enterprise results

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed July 6, 2020
Summary:
This week - employers are pushing to re-open, but the future of work brings a slew of new issues. AI gets an enterprise reality check, while Macy's takes glass-half-full to a digital extreme. The diginomica team rounds up one more wave of virtual events. Plus: an epic "AI" whiff.

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Lead story - The future of work is tied to neurodiversity, and mental health

MyPOV: Even as employers move to re-open, the rules of work have changed. Cath hits on a critical angle in  Employee mental health - why COVID-19’s lasting impact on tech worker wellbeing is a fresh employer duty of care.

Analyzing the lessons from a series of new reports, Cath concludes that the pandemic has raised employee mental health issues - and the issues linger. If anything, re-opening has upped the problem. Cath cites a Harvard Medical School study, writing:

All told, the number of tech workers who say they are currently worried about their own mental health has jumped from 16% before the pandemic to more like three in five now, with 35% saying this experience is a new one for them. That sets responsible employers another challenge to add to their already too-lengthy COVID survival 'to do' list: supporting the mental and emotional wellbeing of the workforce at a time of extended crisis.

You've probably heard that disconcerting joke by now: you can either work from home during the pandemic, or be a parent - but you can't do both. Add in Zoom fatigue. Cath again:

High workloads, extended hours and changing working patterns, which included more online meetings, were all taking their toll, particularly among parents struggling to find a balance between work and family obligations.

What should employers do? The job of the HR manager just got tougher - but more creative as well. The other hard part? Moving beyond lip service and biting the financial bullet, as Cath put it, by investing in mental health and resilience training for managers, and support services for employees.

On the positive tip, one huge benefit of enabling remote workforces is tapping into diverse talent pools. But you need a roadmap. Janine gets into that in Different experiences + different perspectives = better decision making - the neurodiversity HR equation Employers must do more if they want to empower workers with autism, dyslexia, and other neurodiverse conditions. Janine is right about the upside:

Diversity builds in organizational resilience - a quality that the coronavirus has brought into high relief.

Plenty to learn from the example of Auticon, the firm Janine profiles here. Also see her next installment: Neurodiversity in the tech sector - SAP and Cloud9 Insight make it all about the individual.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:

Virtual event roundup - As I documented in my art of virtual events series, the spring virtual event season was a pretty rough go. But there were some strong moments of content amidst the slide show novocaine festivals. The diginomica team fanned out for you once more, to reel in the good moments.

IFS Mindfuel - IFS rolled out more live panels and diverse international use cases. Standouts:

Workfront Leap - This show was newsier than most spring events - lots to dissect. Ergo, we put Workfront leadership into the Zoom hot seat:

FinancialForceX - Phil posted a fresh FinancialForce use case, from their professional services automation wheelhouse:

A couple more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - You can't make this stuff up folks: Derek's interview with Tim O'Reilly got interrupted when O'Reilly had to attend to his chickens. As always, Derek got the story though: Tim O'Reilly - 'COVID-19 is an opportunity to break the current economic paradigm' . Cath posted on an underrated/essential software category in AgeTech - how technology can tackle loneliness and improve quality of life for older people.

Stuart and Jerry beared down on Facebook's woes (bear market pun intended): Facebook's boycott problems worsen as SAP, Microsoft and HP suspend ad spend, but it's SMB activism that's needed to get the message home.

Brian unloaded a good ol' fashioned can of whoop @ss new marketing fitness routine in Friday Rant - Uh, tech marketers - it’s time to hit pause and re-think your COVID response!. Finally, Den and I paid tribute to an essential enterprise voice (and exceptional dude) in Michael Doane RIP - man for all SAP seasons.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story - AI growing pains, and team-building lessons

MyPOV: Making an exception to my no-Forbes-links this week for Joe McKendrick's Artificial Intelligence Is Experiencing Growing Pains. McKendrick riffs on a McKinsey podcast:

While AI is being widely adopted, much of the work is confined to specific narrow use cases, versus more strategic enterprise-centric adoption.

McKendricks whips through AI growing pains, from lack of internal skills to the "solution in search of a problem" syndrome:

Many of the emerging technologies around AI are fascinating, but it’s still unclear how businesses can capitalizing on these technologies.

Example: machines are terrific at mastering games. But how does that help enterprises? How does that make your chatbot act a bit more human and a bit less tone deaf?

One benefit, however, of AI adoption is compiling project lessons. Stephanie Overby shares some winners in Artificial Intelligence (AI): 8 habits of successful teams. One keeper: ignore your excitable marketing team and "get specific." Overby:

AI systems built based on generic use cases like “personalizing the customer experience” will not be testable.

On cybersecurity -

Honorable mention

Overworked businessman

Whiffs

Be honest: you're gonna miss these dorks:

And while we are puncturing AI hype balloons this week, how about this whiffery?

Kurt Marko pointed out: this data set has made fools of "AI" before.

Except that I always had a soft spot for Microsoft Tay - the AI chatbot we deserved.

Yesterday, while setting my alarm for the night, Alexa cheerfully prompted me that I could say "snooze" if I needed to. Even though Amazon's own massive database of my most personal moments data repository knows that "snooze" is already my most frequent Alexa command. Call it whatever you want - just don't call this minimally-capable verbal bot "AI."

If you find an #ensw piece that qualifies for hits and misses - in a good or bad way - let me know in the comments as Clive (almost) always does. Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed. 'myPOV' is borrowed with reluctant permission from the ubiquitous Ray Wang.