Will big data help the CIO balance your life?

Written by on February 6, 2016 in Opinion with 0 Comments

balanceIf one of your New Year’s resolutions is to spend more time with family and friends and less time checking emails, you’re not alone. Studies show a growing number of people worldwide feel it’s more difficult than ever to achieve that mythical work-life balance. We all carry smartphones, tablets wearables that connect us to our email inboxes and cloud-based applications 24/7, so it’s no wonder we constantly struggle to keep work from intruding on our personal lives. I predict that will change for the better in 2016, thanks largely to the CIO. Yes, the same person who oversees how employees use these technologies for work-related projects – will also be the one to help users leverage them to reclaim their personal lives. 

According to Nielsen, 20 percent of Americans profess their resolve to spend more time with family and friends, behind only the long-time stalwarts of losing weight and saving more money. But once again in 2016, that won’t be easy. (Source: Nielsen)

A recent Ernst & Young survey finds that one in three full-time employees worldwide say maintaining a healthy work-life balance has become more difficult in the last five years. More than half (58 percent) of American managers reported working more than 40 hours in any given week. The report highlights a concern of many modern-day professionals who admit it’s only getting tougher to strike a balance between their work and personal lives. (Source: US News & World Report)

Cloud computing, Big Data, the Internet of Things can all help reverse this trend by connecting the enterprise to our lives. That may sound counter intuitive because the goal should be to separate our work and personal lives. In fact, just the opposite is true.

The CIO and IT department deploy these technologies and services to help make users more productive and relieve them of many of the mundane and time-wasting administrative tasks that can consume an entire workday. This is very different from the CIO’s traditional role of focusing only on maintaining the IT infrastructure and operations.

And that’s a good thing. IT is more relevant when it can focus on improving business processes and helping all employees be more productive, not on upgrades or server patching. IT can have a broad and very visible impact on an organization’s ability to meet its business goals. 

Thanks to the Internet of Things trend, and astounding number of machines and devices connect to cloud-based applications to send and receive information they require to run everything from factory floors to a home’s heating and air conditioning system. You probably carry at least a couple IoT devices, like a smartphone, smartwatch or a fitness tracker.

IT manages the collection and analysis of the ever-growing volumes of Big Data that automatically stream onto the company’s servers. The automation of that data collection, and even sharing information between connected devices, is the first step. The next step that we will take in 2016 is to create an additional layer on top that analyzes and learns to improve efficiency over time.

For example, consider managing a brand’s Twitter feed. Today, the marketing department or social media manager can collect feeds and messages for numerous accounts and use one dashboard to monitor all of them. But those dashboards cannot automatically initiate actions. 

Machine learning can enable a recognition of common threads that tie Tweets to specific actions. If a Tweet has elements of humor, the user may typically mark it as “favorite” but not re-Tweet it, but will re-tweet posts that mention the brand’s products in a favorable light.

We will be able to create a system that does not only monitor and aggregate Twitter feeds, but can also automatically craft and post your responses. Imagine the time-savings and productivity enhancements of this system can give back to users!

We surveyed nearly 2,000 managers in five countries to understand the effectiveness of the tools and processes in their corporate environment. We found that nine in 10 managers, regardless of company size or team function, told us they spent an average of more than 15 hours a week time on administrative tasks outside their core job function, such as providing status updates, filling out forms, requesting support and updating spreadsheets. As a result, half of those surveyed said they do not have time for more strategic initiatives.

More than 80 percent of those we surveyed rely on inefficient, manual tools such as email, telephone calls and personal visits to get work done. Not surprisingly, less than 1 in 10 use automation to improve the efficiency of these repetitive tasks. The impact this loss of productivity can have on any organization is exponential.

We embrace automation in our personal lives. Consider how you shop on your favorite e-commerce website. You can quickly and easily find and purchase what you want, interact with customer service, and then move on to whatever is next on your agenda.

 Yet at work, we still rely on too many outdated, labor and time-intensive manual processes. Supplying employees with the latest mobile devices or collaboration and file management applications won’t necessarily boost productivity if the work processes are convoluted.

 The CIO in 2016 can lead the delivery of services that streamline business processes across the entire enterprise. If a company can whiteboard a process from request to approvals to fulfillment, they can build — and automate — practically any process across all business units. Do so, and by this time next year, not only will you be able to pat yourself of the back for your keeping your New Year’s resolution to achieve a work-life balance, but you may even start referring to the CIOs as the CPO: “Chief Productivity Officer.”

This article was written by Dave Wright, Chief Strategy officer, ServiceNow

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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