Holiday on ice?

Stuart Constable

Monday 3 December 2018

Technologies central to Lenovo’s thinking and its commitment to helping businesses – and employees – the rise of digital and AI across the enterprise is driving an array of productivity and efficiency gains and making ‘always-on’ business a reality, reports Stuart Constable. Factories that keep manufacturing over the holiday season; total mobile connectivity, anywhere, all the time, so people can keep working; back office processes that just keep on… processing…

Is there any such thing as a holiday slow down anymore?

 

There was a time when the majority of organisations simply shut up shop over the holiday period. PCs were switched off, offices were locked, production lines halted. With the rise in ‘always-on’ business however, things are now looking very different.

It’s due in part to the continuing evolution of digital technology, especially around workforce mobility solutions, automation, and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which are helping firms reach new levels of productivity and efficiency – all year round.

Whereas the height of workforce mobility used to be taking your laptop home, these days, high-speed connections and cloud-based operations mean it’s possible to manage whole lines of business away from the office.

Indeed, connectivity is one of the three core capabilities we at Lenovo see as essential if staff are to be able to work effectively from anywhere, at any time. Accordingly, we continue to commit substantial resources into ensuring our offerings remain at the leading edge of connectivity, performance, and flexibility.

 

Connectivity – ports, Wi-Fi, built-in 4G

Performance – processing power, memory, performance

Flexibility – form factors and modes of use to suit different environments

 

Of course, this level of freedom comes with responsibility; to avoid employee stress and burn out; to comply with idiosyncratic local employment laws. In France for instance, where companies with over 50 employees face large fines if managers continually email employees out of agreed office hours.1

On the whole though, we’re now embracing the way this kind of technology makes life easier for us. The most exciting being AI, which can eliminate laborious tasks and bring about exciting new levels of automation.

It is now possible, for example, to combine the latest image recognition technology with workflow software to automatically sort files by content, store contacts, submit expenses, and even carry out complex search-and-replace tasks. And it is a trend welcomed by most.

Nearly two thirds of employees in a recent UK survey2 said they’d be happy to hand over tasks like taking meeting notes and reviewing long documents to a machine.

Elsewhere, at management level, it is enabling new predictive analytics dashboards as with the Hive project management service, which uses machine learning to show when teams have too many tasks, not enough staff, and their accuracy in estimating project times.

But it’s in manufacturing that AI really shines for the ‘always-on’ organisation.

In Predictive Maintenance for example. Sensors track the condition of equipment so maintenance takes place as required rather than at scheduled service times, minimising downtime. Machines can even order their own replacement parts and schedule technicians when needed, while algorithms can be used to predict future equipment failures.

The results are pretty compelling, too. Consulting firm McKinsey3 found that AI-enhanced predictive maintenance can reduce annual maintenance costs by 10%, downtime by up to 20%, and inspection costs by 25%.

AI is developing closer to home as well. With Google Assistant for instance.

Google’s investment in AI is transforming the capabilities of its assistant beyond activities such as finding recipes, running the aircon, and creating music playlists. Currently at trial stage, its Duplex technology will give the assistant human-like interaction capabilities 4; great for say, calling the salon for a hair appointment.

 

These are exciting times. And Lenovo is delighted to be at the very heart of them.

 

 

1) New French Law Bars Work Email After Hours, January 1st 2017

http://fortune.com/2017/01/01/french-right-to-disconnect-law/

2) ABBYY Software commissioned research, June 20th 2018

https://www.abbyy.com/en-gb/news/two-thirds-of-uk-employees-want-to-delegate-work-to-robots/#sthash.CTKkRTwr.dpbs

3) Crossing the Frontier: How to apply AI for impact, June 1st 2018

https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/business%20functions/

mckinsey%20analytics/our%20insights/crossing%20the%20frontier%20how%20to%20apply%20ai%20for%20impact/

crossing-the-frontier-collection.ashx

4) Google Duplex: An AI system for accomplishing real-world tasks over the phone

https://ai.googleblog.com/2018/05/duplex-ai-system-for-natural-conversation.html

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