A new independent survey, “The False Promise of the App Economy,” found that knowledge workers are increasingly frustrated by information and app overload at work, which hurts overall productivity and morale as it prevents them from focusing on the most important tasks at hand. The survey, which queried 900 business professionals worldwide regarding their usage of apps in the workplace, discovered that workers are overwhelmed with managing too many apps and are aggravated by the confusion that occurs when forced to switch between multiple apps just to get basic work done.
Usage of enterprise apps and productivity tools for the workplace has increased by 125 percent (Source: Flurry Analytics) with a 2016 forecast predicting that the enterprise app market will reach $287.7 billion in the next eight years (Source: Global Market Insights). Despite this enormous growth, organizations are feeling the pain associated with introducing new mobile and desktop apps in the workplace. In most cases, each app requires its own password, needs to be managed and can cost money on a subscription basis per user. Training is typically required as each new app works slightly differently, introducing new functionality – new ways of searching, sharing, and saving – as well as new interfaces to get used to. This has workers crying out for a more humanized digital experience so they can focus on getting more work done, rather than switching between apps and searching for information.
Commissioned by harmon.ie, the survey revealed that the so-called “digital transformation” of the workplace, fueled by a plethora of mobile and desktop apps, may be doing more harm than good for the average knowledge worker. Key findings include:
- 74 percent of respondents currently have more than five apps open at once while 16 percent have 15 or more apps open simultaneously
- The average number of apps used by the modern worker is 9.39
- 48 percent of people use apps that weren’t distributed by their IT department, with note-taking apps, project apps, WhatsApp and Dropbox regularly mentioned
- IT workers use more apps than others (10.43 on average) while marketing professionals use 8.4 and HR workers use 7.55
- Email remains the place that people spend most of their working day with 50 percent of respondents stating that they look at their email inbox five times per hour or more
- 43 percent believe that they have to switch between too many apps just to get basic work done
- 67 percent believe it would be easier to focus on work if important information from all of their apps appeared in a single window
- 70 percent don’t care which app they use as long as they can find information quickly and easily to get their jobs done
- 41 percent can find all the information they need to do their day-to-day work just by opening a few apps. However, 35 percent said they have to open multiple windows to find the information they need
- When asked how confident they would be that they could find a piece of work from 12 months ago in their company’s document storage environment, 26 percent said they wouldn’t be able to in just five minutes, and 14 percent said they would need much longer
Full text of the survey and accompanying infographic can be found here and here. Both were completed by Fifty Five and Five, a London-based research and marketing firm focused on the Microsoft partner ecosystem.
“In today’s app economy, we expect knowledge workers to use at least five or more apps just to get basic work done,” said harmon.ie CMO David Lavenda. “Switching back and forth between email clients, note-taking apps and collaboration hubs can be highly distracting. This is because workers don’t think in terms of apps when they are working on a project to a deadline – they think in terms of the topics related to the task at hand, not where and how to access the right tools and information.”
Lavenda believes it is important to deliver information the way the human brain works – making technology work the way people think, instead of the other way around. harmon.ie has found a way to reduce the cognitive burden on workers as they try to process and manage information spread across a vast network of apps.
This approach, called topic computing, is a new, neuroergonomic way of working that leverages cloud apps to organize information by topics – important subjects like customers, products, services, or projects – instead of by application. Viewing information by topic eases the strain on the human brain so workers can focus on what matters most, using artificial intelligence to assist humans make natural intelligence decisions; decisions that are impossible to replicate using machines.
Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principal analyst of Constellation Research, believes that topic computing is an excellent approach to help combat information and application overload. “Topic computing ushers in a pragmatic approach to artificial intelligence in the workplace. By observing a person’s current focus, such as viewing an email message or editing a document, it can establish the context for what is important specifically related to the current task. This occurs by first employing natural language processing (NLP) to extract interesting topics from the content, then matching those topics across notifications from all the worker’s other enterprise applications. Using machine learning, it is then able to surface similar content (and people) from across multiple applications, enabling workers to get a more complete picture of everything related to that topic, resulting in better informed decisions and more focused actions.”
On August 1, 2017, harmon.ie launched a new topic computing solution, Collage™ for Dynamics 365, which works with enterprise applications including email, Office 365, SharePoint, Zendesk, Yammer, IBM Connections and Dynamics 365.
For more information on the survey, topic computing and harmon.ie’s new topic computing solution, Collage™ for Dynamics 365, please visit https://harmon.ie/collage/crm.
harmon.ie makes user experience tools for the digital workspace, built to deliver information the way the human brain works. The company is a pioneer in Topic Computing; its flagship harmon.ie Collage solution breaks down data siloes from business applications by grouping information by topics, thereby surfacing what’s most important to knowledge workers. harmon.ie provides a cohesive, people-first user experience supported by cognitive science and powered by machine learning to enhance employee productivity and help organizations overwhelmed with data. The company is a Microsoft Partner of the Year Finalist and an IBM global partner.
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