What’s happening this week at the intersection of management and technology.
Putting Pokémon Go to work: Suddenly, Pokémon Go, the app based on the 20-year-old video game, is everywhere. People with smartphones are more like zombies than ever. Marketers are formulating their Pokémon Go strategies. Thanks, augmented reality!
The consumer market is not the only place AR is taking off, according to Bhavesh Kumar of VMWare AirWatch. “There’s increasingly reason to believe that AR could take off for businesses long before it goes mainstream with consumers,” he declared in a blog post that appeared one day before Pokémon Go, well, went mainstream with consumers.
But that doesn’t mean Kumar is wrong. He’s right in saying that the AR device ecosystem is more developed for the enterprise market than for the consumer market, and that the industry standards needed to put AR to work are already emerging.
Moreover, Kumar is backed up by a new study from Index AR Solutions, a developer of customized AR business solutions for the corporate market that is collaborating with Newport News Shipbuilding. Index AR forecasts that the enterprise market for AR will hit $105 billion within 15 years, including $49 billion in hardware, $11 billion in software, and $45 billion in services. Assuming, of course, that we can tear ourselves away from Pokémon Go.
Using digital exhaust to drive sales: Digital exhaust — the data tracks we leave behind whenever we are online — is a rich source of insight. Google and Facebook have built huge (and perhaps unsustainable?) businesses on it. And you know the CIA’s recently established Directorate of Digital Innovation is poring over it. So maybe it’s high time your sales department got into the act.
“Now a new breed of software applications is reshaping sales force management,” explains Bain & Company partner Mark Kovac in an article for HBR.org. “Their common characteristic: Using digital data exhaust, which is the data generated from the regular activities of a sales force or their customers, to change the behavior of frontline sales representatives in ways that dramatically improve sales productivity and effectiveness.”
Kovac offers three companies that are fielding solutions fueled by digital exhaust. VoloMetrix collects and analyzes calendar and email metadata to determine how salespeople spend their time, and to give their managers the opportunity to redirect their activities — to high-value customers, for instance. Citrix GoToMeeting is piloting a voice-recognition tool that scans customer calls taken by inside sales reps and analyzes them for behaviors and phrases that increase and close sales — insights that can then be shared across the sales team. And Lattice Engines has developed stealthy predictive analytics that pull data from third-party vendors and independent websites about customers. “It combines that external data with firms’ own internal customer data, such as loyalty scores and product purchase history. The software assembles an evolving digital portrait of each account, and its algorithms flag the accounts that merit an immediate sales call,” explains Kovac. “This type of software has consistently improved call response rates, close rates and average order value.”
Automating the hiring process: Being a nontraditional employee (to put it mildly), I’ve yet to encounter an automated hiring process that doesn’t cut me off long before I get to a human being. But maybe chatbots will be my salvation.
Khari Johnson reports in VentureBeat that a “millennial search company” (are millennials hard to find in their parent’s basements?) named FirstJob has launched a recruitment automation bot named Mya. Mya adds some smarts to the hiring process, while automating three-quarters of it.
What’s cool about “Mya” is its ability to question the applicant when it appears that some qualification or another is missing on his or her application. The chatbot identifies the missing qualification and asks the applicant to explain the gap. Then, instead of getting kicked out of contention for the job, the applicant gets a chance to respond.
“The application assistant uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to ask a few questions, verify qualifications, and answer questions from job applicants about things like company culture, policy, and benefits,” reports Johnson. “At the end of the application process, Mya ranks candidates top to bottom based on weighted factors like qualifications, recent activity, engagement, and other metrics.”
FirstJob, which works with companies like FitBit and Evernote, says that candidates who apply for jobs through Mya are more than three times more likely to hear back from a real, live person. Moreover, it enhances the productivity of recruiters by 38%.