Sunday, 27 December 2015

The art of sharing in the human economy

“Our biggest need as humans is connection,” Bryan Kramer, social business strategist and CEO of PureMatter says. Following this statement, he has written two popular books that bring readers deep into the meaning of sharing in today’s “human economy”. “Human to Human #H2H”, about bringing the people side of communication to the digital business world, became a bestselling book in its first week in 2004. Shareology”, his latest work, follows a now-familiar formula, further exploring the Human to Human (H2H) theme: “Every company and person should operate from an H2H foundation. After all, everything has to be done in collaboration with somebody to make something work. Whether it’s developing products, coming up with a business solution, or communicating in general, H2H is the foundation.”
So, what can readers expect from Kramer? While taking a closer look at the society basic need to connect, the author dives into the fundamentals of social business. In “Shareology“, Kramer offers plenty of research, concrete examples drawn from corporate life as well as interviews with professionals in the field of social media, leadership, communication and technology. The result is an absorbing reading on the art of creating and sharing in the digital age.
The power of the crowd
honeyThe crowd is an image that recurs throughout “Shareology”: “Social and digital technologies allows us to use the power of crowds in ways never before possible for co-creating content, for crowd-sharing, and even crowdfunding. But the common denominator in the power of a crowd is shared emotion – something that connect us.”
The book mentions the prolific work of Jeremiah Owyang, founder of Crowd Companies and a leader in the Collaborative Economy movement, which is all about the convergence of the physical and digital worlds powered by the crowd.
Co-creation at work
Looking at internal communications specifically, I found the author’s thoughts on empowering the collective voice of employees completely accurate: “Organisational models have to change to allow internal collaboration and idea flow from employees and partners. We’ve seen too many businesses grab at the technology (or platform) piece first, totally ignoring the people that are involved in processes like creating social policies, integrating technology, and providing customer support.”
There are many ways an employee can take part in co-creation – from creating shared experiences, to sharing or re-sharing them. Yet, many companies still have problems with it. Kramer suggests involving staff in the process of generating content as opposed to producing it and then handling it to them to share. “When two or more people collaborate to create an experience, sharing becomes exponential. When an employee helps to create something, they’re proud of that work and are more likely to share it once it’s published.”
newqIn fact, another aspect of giving colleagues a voice is enabling employee advocacy.  The author likes to remind us that influencers can come from any place inside the company. To make his point he cites the CMO of CBIZ Mark Waxman, who holds a similar position and says:
“Yes, they [employees advocates] are out there. They may not be the ones you first think  of. They are often not your managers, perhaps not your leaders. They may not be the first ones that come to mind. But buried in the cubicles and backrooms of every company are the young, socially aware and active employees looking for an opportunity to grow their career…using a path that they are uniquely qualified to follow!”
The message is clear. Find passionate people from anywhere across the organisation, offer them the tools they need, and empower them to lead so that they “can help you build an enthusiastic internal army of advocates.”
Knowing when not to share
Sharing has become indeed the way progressive organisations are approaching business and communication. But more isn’t always better. It is important, Kramer warns, to also recognise when and what not to share. For example, “even if you have good news to share every day about your company, that doesn’t mean you should. Good news (as well as bad news) should be well timed. Jumping all over something the minute you find out about it may have negative consequences or reduce the impact of what you’re sharing down the road.”
Organisations can solve this problem by investing in active social listening.
Social listening and analytics
quotewOf all aspects of digital communication, social listening is perhaps one of the most important. It is also “one thing we should all practice more,” Kramer emphasises. It increasingly
relies on powerful contextual technologies that “parse the river of conversation on any network.”. Here the opportunity is to engage effectively with people in real-time; find and offer solutions to problems; and reap big dividends in loyalty, trust and advocacy.
Leading edge companies are building and nurturing their own social listening teams. For example, American Airlines has done a remarkable job creating a Social Command Center. The Social Command Center, explains the author, provides employees with deep analytics. It helps them to “zero in on content that matters to them and powerful data visualisation tools like tag clouds and heat maps to help social media members make sense of the data. They can monitor regions across the globe, spot breaking trends, track mentions and images.”
Reading the story, there is really no telling how effective and essential social listening ultimately is.
Being a leader in the human economy
If leaders want to succeed in the human economy they need to understand the value of emotional intelligence too, writes Kramer. As our society progresses with sophisticated technology, high-performing teams will capitalise on what people can do uniquely. Author Dov Seidman, also cited in the book, contends the same:
“In the human economy, the most valuable workers will be hired hearts. The know-how and analytics skills that made them indispensable in the knowledge economy no longer give them an advantage over increasingly intelligent machines. But they will still bring to their work essential traits that cant’s be and won’t be programmed into software, like creativity, passion, character, and collaborative spirit.”
The sharing future
What’s next?
“The future is sharing, but we’ve become unused to it. We’re always running for the goal as individuals, even as we’ve been trying to get our teams to collaborate more. The future will be about opening up and sharing because the more we can get people to share, the faster we can grow as a society.”
Certainly, I find much to applaud in Kramer’s work. The author doesn’t fail to bring the meaning of humanity back into the world of digital communications. If you want to find out how leading social businesses have been concretely turned technology into an opportunity to effectively engage with people, then Shareology is the book for you.
This article originally appeared on StaffConnect  

Sunday, 20 December 2015

IBM Watson Health – how this technology is revolutionising healthcare

The idea that cognitive technology can transform the healthcare system in radical ways holds a special place in Matthew Howard‘s head. The UK Lead at IBM Watson Health  has no doubts: “I consider it to be the most important development in healthcare analytics globally.” And, using cognitive applications such IBM Watson to help augment the ability of the clinical scientific community, he says, is critical for meeting future life science demands.

In fact, healthcare is a key strategic imperative to IBM. If you just look at some of the quotes by the company, they say very openly that Watson Health is their moon shot.

I wanted to explore with Howard what the impact of this promising technology is going to look like. In this interview, he shares his views on the potential of IBM Watson to the wider society, the democratisation of data, the role of machine learning, its strengths and the challenges, and the element of ‘trust’ around digital healthcare.

Gloria Lombardi: Let’s introduce the cognitive IBM Watson Health. What’s so special about this technology?  

ibm tMatthew Howard: Watson is able to understand unstructured information such as normal human language and written words. The technology can combine the best of the machine’s ability to understand vast volumes of information simultaneously with a new ability to interact with people in a much more natural way.

This type of capability allows us to use IBM Watson as an augmented intelligence – it helps those working in healthcare to understand the information out there faster.

GL: Could you give me some examples of its concrete application?  

MH: A good example is using IBM Watson as a treatment adviser. If you train Watson using the very best medical literature, guidelines and expertise, for example in cancer care, you can develop a ‘trusted adviser’ that is able to make recommendations on how to treat the patients – the Watson adviser will provide doctors with potential cancer treatment recommendations based on some of the world’s leading cancer experts who train the application. Based on that knowledge and expertise, clinicians can consider different treatment options for any particular individual. Watson is not there to make the decision; it is there to help inform the decision and provide supported, evidence-based suggestions.

Going beyond the adviser solution, there is an enormous wealth of other opportunities – from building wellness technology coaches to genomics innovation.

GL: What does it all mean for the future of work of clinicians and the medical community?  

ibm watsonMH: What the technology will do is to improve the doctors’ ability to have at their fingertips the very best scientific literature – something like having an adviser at your side who can instantaneously provide information from the literature that is relevant, updated and contextually accurate to the patient in front of them, it’s going to be transformational.

We have very high expectations of our clinicians – we expect them to know all of the journals, all the clinical trials, every treatment, changes to drugs’ availability, and more. These are incredibly high expectations. So, what we are trying to do here, is to provide technology that enables our doctors to meet those expectations by combining their own expertise with the expertise of Watson.

GL: Will the clinicians of the future require familiarity with technological innovation? I am thinking about not just having medical knowledge and expertise but also confidence in using new technology such as IBM Watson.

MH: To some extent. One of the important parts of how cognitive technology works is that it will always tell you why it has reached a given set of recommendations. IBM Watson is designed to provide you with all the evidence, and uses it to explain the suggestions it is making.

So, it is not strictly necessary for the clinician, the scientist or the nurse to fully understand how every part of how the technology works. But, it is important for them to be able to see what was the particular scientific literature, for example, that made Watson go in a certain direction.

GL: Let’s explore the IBM Watson Health ecosystem. How do you select your partners? For example, recently I read about your deal with the Tel-Aviv-based startup Nutrino, which I found interesting. The aim here is to develop a nutrition application that enables smarter eating decisions.

dfMH:  We work with ecosystem partners like Nutrino that we think have a great potential opportunity, exciting ideas and novel technologies. We provide them with access to Watson Developer Cloud to accelerate development. Nutrino actually participated in the IBM Alpha Zone Accelerator Program in Israel, the first and only IBM Accelerator worldwide.

We are already working with a broad range of healthcare and life science organisations, for example our recently announced partnership with Novo Nordisk to build diabetes care solutions on the Watson Health Cloud.

GL: Which geographical locations have the potential to be influenced by the technology in a radical way? Any unexpected regions? Perhaps countries that, until now, we would haven’t thought could be reached and benefit from it.

MH: One of the biggest challenges for us today is to work out how to get highly innovative, leading technologies into emerging markets. Longer term, we will need to find effective ways to provide cognitive technology in those areas at scale. The potential impact of this type of expert advice on locations where there are not enough medical staff is huge.

GL: Looking at the technology itself, what are the main challenges of IBM Watson at present? 
doctor bellaMH: Cognitive technology is very new and developing. We need to build awareness quickly. It also can take time to train.

It will take time to find everything that works best. We are just at the beginning of the augmented intelligence journey.

But, this technology will evolve fast. It will move into the mainstream and become used daily by a much wider group of people. We should see a real step change in the amount of impact that has over the coming few years.

GL: Can we clarify the role of machine learning with respect to the IBM Watson Health cognitive technology?  

MH: In this context machine learning  means that, by training IBM Watson, the technology gets better at what it does. For example, when we train Watson as an adviser type of solution, we tell it when it gets things right and when it gets things wrong. By going through this iterative process several times, IBM Watson becomes smarter – the algorithm enables it to understand the data it is presented. Ultimately, the application learns how to change what it recommends and provide better advice.

GL: I’d like to conclude by discussing the element of ‘trust’, which seems to be one of the key challenges of digital healthcare today. What do you think should be done more, or less, or differently, to encourage individuals and organisations to be open with the opportunity brought by new technology? 

MH: We (the healthcare industry) need to provide real world evidence of how technology can be huge force for good. Big data will only achieve scale and impact in healthcare if people use it and trust it – that means stakeholders across the whole system have to be able to trust each other in a transparent, controlled way to use data for the benefit of patients and healthcare systems, while always managing risk and ensuring privacy.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Transforming healthcare through digital technology

Imagine if, as a patient, you could access your GP and all your health records online giving you more control over your own care; or if you had to do fewer phone calls or trips to the hospital but just communicate with professional teams digitally at any time; or if you hadn’t had to repeat yourself when your information is shared between healthcare professionals. Until recently, this was not what you would normally expect.
But over the past years things have started to change. Quite remarkably. Healthcare services around the globe are now investing in ground-breaking technology to benefit both patients and clinicians. In the process, it is accelerating the spread of health apps, wearable devices, connected care systems, and the use of advanced analytics to maximise the use of routinely collected data. The 2015 Digital Health World Forum this week delved into all these topics and provided the optimum platform to learn more about the latest innovations in healthcare.  

The personalisation of health

statsListening to the Director General for Innovation, Growth and Technology at The Department of Health Will Cavendish, the transformation of care in the UK is well under way. The Country’s digital health market is set to grow by nearly £1bn in the next three years – potentially reaching £3.5bn by 2020. “Digital health systems make up the vast majority of the market at present. But other areas, such as health apps and health analytics, are set to grow rapidly,” claimed Cavendish.
At the heart of this transformation is the personalisation of health  – from the delivery of remote monitoring and tele-consultations, to e-medicine supply chains, social care digitisation, mobile and agile working, and the removal of paper based processes across all care settings. Plans also include the deployment of the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies in real clinical settings such as in the ward, in the GP surgery or in the waiting room. Ultimately, it’s about improving productivity and empowering people to make the right choices.

Mobile health 

“Everyone now has the power to innovate in a digital world thanks to the marriage between the two great innovation platforms of the 21st century: internet and mobile.”
 Dr. Mike Short is VP at Telefonica. He entertained the audience with a lively talk on mobile devices, the way they are transforming people’s behaviours and the interactions they have with organisations. “Mobile technology has shifted people’s expectation to a state of extensive levels of personalisation, consistent and relevant information wherever they are.”
telephoneTo make his point, Short took the audience through a chart on the mobile phone services over the past 30 years: “Do you remember your first mobile phone? April 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of the first mobile phone call in a public setting. In March 2014 the web celebrated its 25th birthday. It’s proof of what a well established platform it is and it’s become a central part of people’s lives. Expected that by end of this year there’ll be more mobile phones than people!”
Even more stimulating was the discussion around the opportunity for mobile health, that, as he Short said, “it is all about people power.” There are apps that help you to track diets, to exercise, to sleep better, or to manage healthier lifestyles through gamification activities such as giving you something to aim for, or a way to share and celebrate their achievements amongst a community. At the end of 2014, there were 33.000 Health and Fitness and 25.000 Medical apps in the Apple store, and  44.000 Health & Fitness apps and 23.000 Medical apps in the Google Play store. And, in the UK, the NHS has also launched its own app store – the NHS Choices Healthy App Store.
Going further, Short cited a study by PWC - Socio-economic impact of mHealth: An assessment report for the European Union’  indicates that by 2017 6.9 million people may be able to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases thanks to lifestyle improvement made through mHealth.
Looking forward, he was confident that people will become more familiar with wearable technology – from smart bands and watches, to clothing, jewellery, glasses and headsets.
Perhaps, the most inspiring takeaway here, is that digital is enabling individuals’ awareness of health issues, empowering people to take more responsibility for themselves. As Short put it, “this is vitally important – we must do as much as we can to help ourselves.”

Digital health at work 

KPMobile technology is impacting on clinical workflow too, transforming the way medical professionals perform tasks and communicate daily.
For example, we heard from Tigerspike’s MD Cameron Franks, that Kaiser Permanente uses a mobile app to provide video consultations as well as a clinical reference library that enables doctors to search for drugs in real-time.
It was also interesting to know that Stanford University and the University of Oxford have partnered to create MyHeart Counts – this app uses surveys to help researchers more accurately evaluate how people’s lifestyle and activity relate to their risk of cardiovascular disease. “By identifying those correlations, researcher can begin to better understand how to keep hearts healthier.”
Mobile is truly ubiquitous. For the majority of people having a mobile phone is now just a part of our lives. Building on this opportunity The George Institute for Global Health is supporting aboriginal communities to better access to healthcare through the One Deadly Step app.

The mobile moment – overcoming the obstacles 

Indeed, as TotalMobile’s Clinical Consultant Simon Wallace said, we are living the ‘mobile moment’. The phrase was originally coined by Forrest’s VP and Principal Analyst Ted Schadler, describing it as ‘a point in time and space when a person uses a mobile device to meet an immediate need, whatever that may be and wherever that person may be.’
Again, Wallace emphasised that mobile is creating new ways of working, toward flexibility and efficiency. “Community health and social care workers are not shackled to the office to update notes on systems and trawl databases. They have access to the data they need on the move, leaving more time to spend on patient care.”
But, while it’s seems clear that this is a game-changing opportunity to influence healthcare, there are a few challenges along the way. Security concerns, technology integration and resource constraints were often cited as obstacles.
Director of OurMobile Health Julie Brentland, helped to clarify some more barriers. First is transparency. Letting users know that an app is collecting and sharing their data, is extremely important. That is also true of accurate and correct content. To make her point, Brentland cited the 2013 study by The University of Pittsburgh on melanomas. Four apps were used to evaluate photographs and provide users with the likelihood of malignancy. Three of the four apps incorrectly classified 30% or more of melanomas as un-concerning. The researchers concluded: “Reliance on these applications, which are not subject to regulatory oversights, in lie of medical consultation can delay the diagnosis of melanoma and harm users.”
And, sometimes the more popular apps are the lower the quality. This conclusion was supported by a survey of smoking cessation apps.
Brentland, argued therefore, that’s time to “invest in building confidence and trust.”

Looking at the future

This is an evolutionary, yet transformative journey. Beyond the challenges, that of course it’s crucial to continue to explore and fully understand, the 2015 Digital Health World Forum was a confirmation that the mobile and digital health world is rising fast, as are the drivers and advantages of investing on it.  When all is said and done, the greatest opportunity here is to really enhance critical care provision around the globe – a win-win for patients and clinicians.
teaser image 
This article originally appeared on The App Garden 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

#EmployeeConf - Exploring the employee engagement journey

screenteaser Boosting performance, productivity and retention. These themes were discussed at ‘The Engaging Employees’ conference in London this week. With over 20 speakers and 13 in-depth sessions, the event was a vibrant exploration of the employee engagement journey – from managing change, to driving digital communications, creating innovation and interpreting data.
While the choice of which presentations to review is not the easiest to make, here are a few personal takeaways.
Change with SCARF
Why? Who? When? What? How? Our brain deals with uncomfortable feelings every time there is a change at work. But, all too often we push emotional signals out of the way or discount them as being less important than ‘doing business’. Yet, feelings have an important role to play, often ruling how we make decisions in turbulent times.
ec 10 (2)It’s perhaps not surprising if James Dalton’s quote is something to go by: “We are still hard wired for survival.” The Group Head of Employee Engagement and Health at the transport operator FirstGroup, explored the topic of change from the frontiers of neuroscience. Dalton reminded the audience of a series of pre-programmed natural responses that drive how people react to change – from the neural network that looks for danger to the fight or flight reflex, the friend or foe instinct, and predictions.
If we are going to nurture brain-based research, what tools are we going to focus on? The short answer is that there are plenty of frameworks out there. After all, change is one of the most written about topics in employee engagement literature. If you Google the term, over three billion results are displayed. A more nuanced answer is that despite of all knowledge at our disposal, change consistently appears as one of the biggest challenges still facing internal communicators. Indeed, models have evolved so differently that they are difficult to compare.
SCARF_ModelHowever, Dalton suggested adopting the SCARF model by Dr. David Rock. This framework analyses and acts upon the social triggers that generate either a sense of threat or a sense of reward. The aim is to help increase positive states of mind while looking at five interlinked domains:
Status – How will the change effect me? Not just my work self but my whole self.
Certainty – We are wired to predict. The brain craves certainty; if not we speculate and fill in the gaps. Hence, the communication of what is changing, why and when is critical.
Autonomy – Lack of control during change has a huge detrimental effect. How can you involve your people at all levels? how do you encourage ownership?
Relationships – How might teams and relationships be affected by the change? How can you make the most of your teams to help the process?
Fairness – Everyone needs to be involved at all stages. Set key milestones and plan how you will include people in the change. Ultimately, it is about implementing a continuous loop of asking, listening and feeding back.
Innovation – between engagement and technology
pic 2“Innovation can’t be viewed in isolation.”
For Simon Hill, CEO of the collaborative idea management software company Wazoku, it’s time for a radical rethink of everyday innovation, which links to employee engagement and productivity. It is about “engaging a broader set of voices in discussions to gain new perspectives and valuable insights, faster.” It also includes considering the wider network of employees, partners and customers as the largest resource for business success.
But to ensure that innovations happen efficiently, effectively and gracefully, it’s essential that the workforce is brought along for the ride. Finding and retaining skilled talent is critical too. In fact, the latter is often one of the biggest issues affecting growth. According to a recent study by the Intelligence Group, 72% of Millennials would like to be their own boss. If they do have to work for a boss, 79% of them would like that boss to serve more as a coach or mentor. Moreover, 88% prefer a collaborative work-culture rather than a competitive one, and they “will not hesitate to move to an employer who can offer them either of these, amongst other motivational assets.”
pigoodThanks to new collaborative technology and communication processes companies today can facilitate “an environment that captures, evaluates and allows for the implementation of ideas,” while building engagement and increasing retention. A good example comes from Waitrose. Hall described how 60,000 employees from more than 330 stores were involved in the generation of over 1000 innovative ideas. The ideas that were shared on the internal digital platform went from improving temporary ticket processes to transforming the format and management of till receipts. While the level of participation and motivation from partners skyrocketed, the business also managed to achieve significant productivity with £2.2m financial savings in the first nine months.
All things considered, the success of the Waitrose’s collaborative initiative demonstrates the importance of giving people the voice that they demand and expect. Plus, it shows that sometimes the truly great innovations can be as simple as making small changes to the task that people do everyday, rather than the big ideas that are supposed to transform everything.
Internal digital communications
pic1While the uniqueness of face-to-face cannot be disputed, in many other aspects digital channels look remarkably like the way to communicate inside corporates today. For example, Virgin Trains cultivates a culture of openness and aligns employees with the brand’s value of ‘Screwing average, creating amazing’. Head of Internal Communications and Engagement Drew McMillan, described how the company encourages “conversational leadership” through the development of what he called “5 super skills”: presence, hyper-awareness, decoding, voicing and flow control. Within the larger scheme, and mainly due to the idea of creating “amazing communication for all,” the company set up a Yammer-based enterprise social network (ESN) – this collaborative platform enabled 43,000 cross-company conversations in only 6 months.
Another company that is successfully benefiting from digital tools is Roche. Head of Internal Communication Joanna Hall, spoke enthusiastically about their Jive-based ESN – the internal network is enabling knowledge sharing, creating smarter ways of working, reducing costs and improving the engagement of staff around the globe. There were a number of factors that contributed to this positive achievement. But for Hall, working with the task force and having a clear business case were the two key imperatives. Plus, the awareness that “the basics of being human must always be there.” Indeed, a gentle reminder that digital transformation is about both the technology and the people behind it.
Mike Copinger from Kaltura brought attention to the impact of videos on empowerment and collaboration. Today, technology is accessible to the end user as never before. This is particularly due to the rise of mobile apps. Similarly to Hill, Copinger mentioned the opportunity for any business to create “connected experiences” that drive innovation. He spoke about the power of employee-generated content – by allowing the individual to capture and share their own videos from everywhere with the rest of the organisation, a company can spot faults in products, crowd-source potential solutions to problems and generate new ideas.
Overcoming barriers to digital measurement 
However, organisations have barriers to overcome too. For example, how do they evaluate all their internal communications and get the whole picture when using many different channels?
Newsweaver’s Mossy O’Mahony pointed out that “often there is a lack of resources such as time, budget and appropriate technology as well as a lack of the right skills including having a proper digital measurement expertise.”
news2Perhaps, the biggest challenge of all is the “data being siloed.” Acting on fragmented pieces of information can only result in creating ineffective communications, which often put the function in a difficult position inside the company. Indeed, “better measurement would provide communicators with the chance to prove their value far more effectively.”  With this in mind, Newsweaver set out to build a cross-channel analytics tool that measures all the digital internal communications in one place – email, intranet, social, mobile and more. The goal if to inform organisations on how they are doing at any given moment across the whole business – from which employees are engaged and not engaged, to which content is performing and which content is not performing. In the end, using those insights to take the right action.
Indeed, as new innovative tools and research develop, I envision a bright future for the world of digital measurement. No trend says that the use of measurement technology is slowing down in any way – in fact it is accelerating rather quickly. We are moving from descriptive to predictive and prescriptive analytics. If used correctly those resources can provide practitioners and employees alike with a ladder to meaningful decision-making.
Nonetheless, it still remains important to keep any question open including the security and privacy dilemma of our digital age – How are our data managed?  That may be another topic to delve into at the next #EmployeeConf event.

This article originally appeared on StaffConnect and on The App Garden