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The Future of Work: Collaborative, human-centric and AI-powered

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At Starmind, we have long argued that companies need to rethink their approach to employee knowledge sharing and genuine collaboration. Enterprises need to find a better way to connect people with questions to colleagues with answers, to reduce the endless search for information. But even we may have underestimated just how urgent that need is. 

In the Productivity Drain Research Report 2021, which covers topics such as employee knowledge sharing, democratization of knowledge and the benefits of collaborative working, we analyzed the behavior and attitudes of more than 1,000 people working in office environments at large organizations in the United States, Germany and Switzerland. 

What we discovered about lost productivity in the workplace was pretty shocking. Take this finding:

More than a third (37%) of workers spend over two hours a day looking for the information they need to complete their tasks. 

In real terms, this means that an organization employing 4,000 office workers is losing around $14.8 million in revenue every year, purely because of all the time wasted searching through documents and knowledge management systems (and that assumes employees are being paid an extremely low $20 per hour).  

The problem goes much deeper than lost productivity in the workplace, though. Here are some other key findings of our research:       

  • 73% of C-level execs make 5+ decisions a week based on assumptions rather than facts because they can’t find the information they need quickly enough. 
  • Only half (53%) of employee knowledge is retained and documented, with the rest being lost when an employee leaves the business. The longer the person has been with the company, the more costly the knowledge loss is. 
  • 41% of organizations are affected by departmental knowledge silos, which limit access to information – a trend that is being exacerbated by the pandemic-driven shift to hybrid working. The lack of cross-team collaboration is also impacting innovation and the exchange of ideas.      

How can we fix this?

The solution many of the people we spoke to are looking for is a simplified platform that gives workers real-time access to the knowledge they need. This solution needs to be human-centric, so that it empowers individuals and teams to use and share knowledge more effectively. At the same time, most workers believe artificial intelligence has a role to play, freeing them up from tedious and repetitive searches and allowing them to pose questions anonymously if necessary, so they don’t have to worry about how their questions will be perceived. We describe this kind of solution as a “knowledge collaboration” platform.

Unfortunately, this is not the solution most organizations are currently using. Instead, today’s workers typically have access either to traditional knowledge management systems or to conventional collaboration tools.

The problem with knowledge management systems is that they are focused on indexing and identifying documented knowledge. But this is only a fraction of the knowledge that an organization contains (20% vs. the 80% that exists in people’s heads). As a result, when employees search knowledge management systems for answers to their questions, they are often frustrated by the inaccurate, outdated or inconsistent information they get.

The problem with collaboration tools is that, while they enable colleagues to connect, they do not help people identify which colleague they need to connect with. When you consider that almost half (48%) of the office workers that participated in the Productivity Drain Research Report 2021 mentioned they have at least one question a day where they are unsure who the best person is to provide the answer, you can see what a big problem this is. 

By moving to a more human-centric, AI-powered knowledge collaboration platform, which empowers users to rapidly find the colleague with the right knowledge and experience to solve the problem, organizations in the future will be able to:

  • Boost productivity by dramatically reducing the amount of time employees spend searching for information and enabling cross-team collaboration based on knowledge.
  • Enhance decision-making accuracy by ensuring employees can access the information or subject matter expert they need, when they need it most. 
  • Break down silos and improve collaboration by removing bias and allowing l employees to collaborate, regardless of their physical location, role, hierarchical place, team or department.  

Given their ability to reduce the shocking levels of lost productivity in the workplace – by driving the democratization of knowledge, increasing employee knowledge sharing and harnessing the benefits of collaborative working – it is hard to imagine how unique knowledge collaboration platforms such as Starmind will not have a decisive role to play in the future of work. 

To learn more about the productivity drain caused by endless searches for answers, and how human-centric AI-powered platforms can transform information into easily accessible, retained knowledge, read the full Productivity Drain Research Report 2021.

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