Enterprise hits and misses - remote work versus HR compliance, humans versus service bots, and the U.S. 5G charade

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed March 1, 2021
Summary:
This week - the future of work-from-anywhere faces off against HR compliance and worker surveillance. Will (human) customer service reps make a comeback? And: a founding member of the diginomica team says "So long." Your whiffs include the 5G charade, and some very smart badgers.

King Checkmate

Lead story - From remote work surveillance to the revenge of the customer service (human) rep - the future of work takes shape

MyPOV: In Civil liberties and compliance burdens - the underlying price of the shift to remote working that we all have to pay? Stuart examined the intrusive tech underbelly of the remote work surge.

The vast majority of employees surely favor a "work from anywhere" flex policy going forward, but as Stuart notes, the workforce management issues haven't been solved. According to a recent Topia study:

40% of HR professionals feel they don’t have the right data and insights for decision-making - and the rest of them are probably kidding themselves if they think they do! In terms of remote working, this is particularly true in relation to one basic question - if your workforce isn’t sitting at its desks in front of you, how do you know where your people are and what they’re actually doing?

The temptation to utilize some form of soul-crushing spyware employee tracking is there. But even if we get past that, there is compliance. When employees expand work-from-anywhere in the vaccine economy to potentially include coffee shops, boats, or even foreign countries it flummoxes regulations:

Each of those locations could have different implications in terms of organizations being hit by regulatory audits, fines or taxes, the latter particularly relevant if employees divide their working time between states, regions or countries.

Add security to that mix - a topic Kurt Marko has covered off frequently on these pages. Meanwhile, as Chris writes, add the revenge of the (human) customer service rep to the vaccine economy mix (Stand-by for a low-tech Baby Boom in the Vaccine Economy as customers look for human contact). With automation the prevailing trend, could there be a competitive edge in pushing back? Chris:

But the swing back to human contact may persuade some decision-makers that it, rather than robots, automation and self-service, could be a competitive differentiator... As a result, [customers] may favour companies that show them a friendly face, rather than remind them of their months of social isolation and button clicking.

I'd like to think so. Though I'll take any bot (or human) that can solve my problem - and I suspect I'm not alone (an Amazon customer service bot that quickly issues me a refund is a swell bot by me). As I was reminded by Spotify's support team, a really nice human that has no ability/authority to solve my problem isn't too awesome. Let's see the different models compete - I'm rooting for those that use automation smartly, and pay their humans well above average.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

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

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Madeline filed a compelling piece on workplace accessibility (Assistive technology at work - Bosma eyes up job opportunities for the blind and visually-impaired). Cath looked into a vitally important tech play in Techfugees - using technology and innovation to better support displaced people.

If you're like me, you have no interest in adding another app. But Phil can't wait for the PC version of this one. Find out why in mmhmm founder Phil Libin on the future of video meetings. Stuart dumped another bucket of analytical vinegar on Facebook - and felt better afterwards - in Poor, misunderstood Facebook! Apologist-in-Chief Nick Clegg wants a word about the week's events Down Under.

Finally, Den penned his own diginomica exit in So long and thanks for all the fish. Yep, Den made the certifiably insane/incredibly wise decision to move on from diginomica - and retire. Sorry dude, but this is your last strikethrough for a while. You've got dogs to walk, model tanks to paint, and train journeys to plan with your main squeeze. Now get to it. We'll keep the content flowing - and that patented BS meter fully charged.

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top six picks

Overworked businessman

Whiffs

I don't know why people are so worked up that this doctor appeared at a (virtual) court appointment in scrubs while operating on a patient. It's a beast to reschedule a court date - and he's likely good enough at plastic surgery for a bit of multi-tasking. Meantime, the 5G circus keeps on circusing:

Now, I've been a believer that "emotional support robots" are going to be a thing. But I'll admit: I didn't picture it like this:

This tweet was inspired by a real podcast I was listening to, which became a cautionary tale:

Finally, I don't believe I ever posted this, but it's an epic self-whiff, and deserves its day:

Software AG - smart badgers
(epic whiff)

smart badger
(smart badger)

Yep, I wrote that last summer. I evidently thought badgers were set to play an instrumental role in IoT and worker safety... Well, we can't always be right.

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.