For a Google Now of the workplace

google-now-iphoneWhile consumer applications are invading the workplace and employees collapse under information, the example of the application that should be brought to the workplace is Google Now.

You don’t know Google Now ? Available for one year on Android and a couple of weeks on iOS, it’s a predictive service that push the information users need when they need it. Without having to ask anything, users receive the weather forecast of the location they’re in, the results of their favorite team, the state of traffic to get their next meeting, their flight status, a list of restaurants in the area…

The right information at the right moment based on context

How does it work ? Of course by processing data Google gathers while you’re surfing on the web, finds in connected applications or by analyzing your inbox and your agenda. The goal is to make the system become smarter over time as Google Now knows and understands you more and more.

Here’s how it does look like.

Now let’s get back to the work environment.

A work environment on the verge of thrombosis

If its socialization is an inescapable process and the activity stream will become the center of conversational and collaborative activities, lots of problems are still to be fixed. The mass of available information requires advanced filtering capabilities. First by users who should be able to narrow the information flow to turn a large river into a water trickle. Then by intelligent systems that must be able to tell users, depending on the context (projects, business application…) “here’s what you should now”. Or, at then end of day, “if you should only read 10 things today, they’re these ones”.

But this step is only about information flows. There are lots of other things that can be very helpful for users. That’s the point where Google Now matters. CRM data when at a customer’s, alert that because of a heavy traffic one should leave right now not to be late at the next meeting, that the train or plane is late or on schedule… So many information employees spend time to find (or don’t try to find for this reason) but that are very valuable if pushed at the right moment.

If information is valuable, it will find you

All these useful data are located in the company’s information system. The “only” thing to do is connect, analyse, push.

The tool could take several forms :

- notifications in activity streams

- a widget on the intranet, the email client

- a mobile application since it’s obvious that such services are even more valuable when people are out of the office, when the context matters more.

At least it would be less about bothering employees by monopolizing their time and attention to make them participate than giving them what they need, when and where they need it.

Who’ll be able to issue such a service ?

Who’ll issue the enterprise Google Now

Google ? Of course ! But it implies to connect lots of internal systems to the service and even businesses that trust google for their email won’t necessary agree to give access to more sensitive information ?

One of the usual suspects like Microsoft, IBM, SAP or Oracle ? More likely, provided they don’t take 5 years to get the need and deliver an usable product. But these ones have the legitimacy to connect to existing enterprise tools.

A pure player ? Why not. But he should have broad shoulders because delivering at least a minimum viable product requires lots of work and investment.

Salesforce ? Why not.

We’ll see in 5 years.

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