The project, which includes building a digital assistant to remind employees of self-imposed training goals, is part of a continuing effort among companies to understand and improve the way workers use and interact with digital tools.
Switching between a consumer app like Netflix and a work website shouldn’t “feel like it’s so drastic,” said Prakash Kota, CIO of Autodesk Inc., a San Rafael, Calif.-based company that sells software that people and companies use to design and build products, buildings and more.
So-called user experience took off in IT about a decade ago as the iPhone and other consumer technologies gained a foothold in the workplace, sparking a rethink in the way enterprise applications are designed and distributed.
The pandemic and the effects of remote work, with employees isolated from colleagues and the Help Desk, has led to a renewed focus by some CIOs on improving employee user experience.
Now, it has become more critical to invest in that experience, partly as a way to retain employees and to make them more efficient and productive as they continue to work remotely, Mr. Kota said. Autodesk’s 10,300 employees will continue to work outside the office at least through the end of June, he added.
Using tools such as data analytics and AI, Mr. Kota aims to introduce new features to the company’s internal corporate website, Employee Hub, by the end of this year.
One such feature could be a page of personalized, AI-based recommendations for tools that employees can use based on their role. For example, a software engineer might be recommended Atlassian Corp.’s Jira, used for project-tracking, based on the tool’s adoption by others in the same role.
The recommendations, offered on Employee Hub or through email, will be generated by data analytics tools that track information such as time spent using specific applications, Mr. Kota said. The goal is to “understand what tools are adding value to our employees and what tools are meaningful,” he said.
By tracking employee usage of tools, managers can also gain insight into whether employees are at risk for burnout, by understanding how much time they spend using apps such as videoconferencing platforms, Mr. Kota said.
Employee privacy will remain an important part of the development of the new features on Employee Hub. “We’re not snooping into anyone’s email,” Mr. Kota said.
Another new feature could be an AI-based digital assistant that guides new hires through the onboarding process and reminds them to keep on top of self-imposed professional goals.
For example, an employee could set a personal goal of spending two or three hours a month learning a new skill, and the digital assistant could “nudge” the employee to keep up the effort, Mr. Kota said. Employees can also choose to limit the amount of time they spend on meetings; the digital assistant could remind them when they have gone over the limit, Mr. Kota said.
“It’ll assist you, but it won’t decide for you,” Mr. Kota said.
Some of the features are expected to roll out over the next few quarters and will evolve based on feedback.
The Employee Hub was rolled out early last year as a centralized website for employees to access information about Autodesk and their role at the company. Part of the website includes “HelpBot,” an AI-based virtual assistant that automatically answers many information technology-related questions.
More than 60% of IT-related requests are currently handled by HelpBot within a minute, Mr. Kota said.
Autodesk is one of several companies trying to improve their work force’s user experience with technologies such as automation and data analytics, said Jason Wong, research vice president at tech research firm Gartner Inc.
In part, that is because remote workers need to effectively collaborate with other teams and get real-time answers to technical questions. New digital initiatives at many companies have also been accelerated by the pandemic, he said. And, companies are trying to mirror the technology employees use in their own lives, which is simple, intuitive and personalized.
There are pitfalls for CIOs to watch out for when using data analytics to track and gauge employee productivity, though.
“You don’t want to make it feel like it’s Big Brother,” Mr. Wong said.
And, the mix between security, performance and ease-of-use of an app needs to be carefully calibrated. Too great a focus on security, for example, might overpower the user experience and make an application harder to use. “There’s a fine balance there for CIOs,” he said.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.