Tech Savvy: March 3, 2016
What’s happening this week at the intersection of management and technology
Wearables at work: It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly three years since the much-discussed and often-derided beta version of Google Glass was released. Since then, the Apple watch has made the cover of Time and there’s been a lot of hype about the future of wearable computing. But how — and where — are wearables actually being used in the workplace?
Mary Pratt offers three examples in a ComputerWorld article. DHL is conducting a pilot program in a Netherlands warehouse, where employees are wearing smart glasses to pick orders — with a 25% improvement in efficiency. After a successful pilot, Lee Company, in the commercial building services space, is in the midst of a full rollout of smart glasses that connect its on-site plumbing and electrical tradespeople to senior techs back in its triage center. And, energy utility Southern Co. is using head-mounted and wrist-mounted devices to record work as a means of ensuring and enhancing employee compliance with procedures in plants and in the field.
Avoid gender bias, hire an avatar: The latest evidence of endemic gender bias in the workplace came in a large-scale study of proposed changes in software coding — known as pull requests — among the millions of open-source programmers on Github. The study revealed that even though women’s pull requests overall were accepted more often than men’s (suggesting that women do higher-quality work), when their gender was known, women programmers’ pull requests were rejected more often than when their gender was not known.
This finding and a virtual reality headset gave Katharine Zaleski a wearables-at-work idea that she shared in Quartz. The co-founder and president of PowerToFly thinks that companies could use virtual reality technology to reduce gender bias in the hiring process. Job candidates could adopt an avatar of their choice and interview as whomever they please. Zaleski likens the process to the blind auditions that were used by leading U.S. symphonies in the 1970s and 1980s, when simply placing musicians behind a screen increased the odds that female musicians would progress beyond the initial audition by 50%.
Boosting big data ROI: Aggressive adoptions of new technology can be a double-edged sword.