People Management by Algorithm

What’s happening this week at the intersection of management and technology.

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Tech Savvy

Tech Savvy was a weekly column focused on new developments at the intersection of management and technology. For more weekly roundups for managers, see our Best of This Week series.
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Social media for CXOs: On March 19, Pope Francis began posting on Instagram. He uploaded 8 images in 4 days and attracted 1.9 million followers. It wasn’t the Supreme Pontiff’s first social media foray. He has been tweeting since he was elected 3 years ago, and he has 8.94 million followers on his English-language Twitter account. In terms of social media savvy, the Pope is running circles around most Fortune 500 CEOs.

As of July 28, 2015, 61% of the CEOs had no social media presence at all, according to a study by that was released earlier this year. Only 10% of the CEOs were on Twitter, and only 60% of their accounts were active.

A new article, by Emily Jane Fox in Vanity Fair, plumbs the state of tweeting among high-profile CEOs and highlights the internal team — led by Nola Weinstein, Twitter’s head of executive engagement — that encourages them to join the service. But the article suggests an unexpected reason why CEOs and other execs might want to start thinking in 140 characters. “Interestingly,” writes Fox, “the number-one success Weinstein and her team see from executives on Twitter is when they connect with their own colleagues and employees — explaining the reason behind a particular project or campaign, or highlighting a job well done by one of the company’s teams or offices. ‘If you’re a C.M.O. on a global level and you give a global shout-out to a team in Tokyo or Singapore or New York, that goes a long way. The public nature can be very rewarding and gratifying,’ Weinstein said.”

Algorithmic people management: If you’re wondering where you’ll find the time to tweet encouraging messages to your staff, consider adding people analytics to your digital toolbox. HR apps can tell you when employees are thinking about quitting, which employees are the best fit for new assignments, and even the best way to coach a specific employee, according to an article in Fortune by Jennifer Alsever.

IBM, for instance, uses Blue Matching, which employs Watson technology to analyze thousands of employees and match them to job opportunities. Cisco is rolling out Team Space, a Web-based app, that assesses employee strengths and recommends how to motivate them. “It’s like Moneyball for HR, letting you make better decisions,” Josh Bersin of Bersin by Deloitte told Alsever, “and this year it has really peaked.”

A power assist for labor: The leaders of companies whose employees perform lots of physical labor should be following the development of robotic assistance devices, especially robotic exoskeletons, which can enhance the performance of employees, as well as protect their health and safety. Warehouse workers, for instance, can don Panasonic’s Assist Suit AWN-03, a sort of robotic assistance jacket that lasts eight hours on a charge and can lift up to 33 pounds for them, according to a report by Adario Strange in Mashable.

A new video from Panasonic is “one of the first videos we’ve seen of an entire team of workers outfitted with exoskeletons,” writes Strange. “The team of workers lift boxes and work in unison, evoking images of ‘the Borg’ from Star Trek … Welcome to the bionic blue collar age.”

Panasonic is selling a second model, the PLN-01 “Ninja” exoskeleton suit, which is designed for workers who need to negotiate difficult terrain. “This suit features power sensors at the soles of the feet and two motors at the lower back to help people walk more easily,” reports Mary-Ann Russon in International Business Times UK. The company is also developing a hospital bed “that splits in two,” according to Russon, “and one part of the bed is triggered to convert itself into an armchair while the patient is lying on it, meaning that the caregiver no longer needs to lift the patient at all …”


Tech Savvy

Tech Savvy was a weekly column focused on new developments at the intersection of management and technology. For more weekly roundups for managers, see our Best of This Week series.
More in this series

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