Welcome to the meeting organisation of the future
Anyone who finds much about the topic of digitisation too abstract should simply read these lines after their next organised meeting: because even with an apparently banal subject such as the organisation of meetings, we can see how current futuristic-sounding buzzwords like Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and Everything as a Service (XaaS) already are. Suddenly everything seems tangible, including the vision of digitisation 2020. Are you ready? Let’s get started, simply and practically:
You want to plan a meeting. To do so, you need to know when the different attendees have time, and you also have to find a room for it. You need to arrange these variables first.
So you find out when people can attend, only to discover that there is no room available on that date. Learning artificial intelligence can already remove a lot of the strain for you by going through the details of the attendees and making suggestions to you.
OK, let’s go a step further
Why does the room need to be defined? In many companies, rooms are booked, but not used.
Alternatively, meetings are cancelled, but the room is not labelled as available. So wouldn’t it be good if artificial intelligence received all this information and reorganised room planning, for example, so that booked rooms aren’t left empty and more capacity can be used? In many cases, meeting rooms being rearranged to allow an extra space is sufficient. Let’s assume you work for a small company with two meeting rooms. We have a meeting in Room A from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and another from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Room B. If somebody needed a room from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., none would be available. The current technology would also show that no room was available. However, if we had a form of superior intelligence, it would simply schedule the first meetings in Room A and free up Room B.
AI / artificial intelligence
The idea of artificial intelligence is to recreate human decision-making structures that can independently process problems without human input. The learning machine can imitate human intelligence. This can also be described as automated intelligent behaviour. We are surrounded by AI in everyday life, for example when we want to find the job wizards blog with a search engine, or texts, handwriting, images, voices or faces are to be recognised. Self-driving cars, smart homes and modern computer games would be unimaginable without AI.
IoT / Internet of Things
Going beyond interaction between humans and machines, the technology of the Internet of Things also allows networking of electronic systems with each other. This gives clearly identifiable physical objects a virtual representation in an Internet-like structure. The idea is to help people without them consciously being part of the process. A prominent example is the thinking traffic light, which reacts to traffic levels when changing colour.
XaaS / Everything as a service
Nowadays, much of the digitisation of the world of work is described ‘as a service’. The three cornerstones of this are Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). In SaaS, an external IT service provider not only operates the software, but also the IT infrastructure of a customer. Typical areas of application are content management systems and shop systems. PaaS means that the provider makes an IT platform for software development in the cloud available as a service. The advantage of this is the low administrative cost. It can be used without the company installing its own corresponding hardware and software. In IaaS, the service provider supplies the customer with a virtual computing infrastructure, i.e. servers, processing power, network capacity, communication devices and archiving and backup systems, all as required. It is now possible to create an increasingly complex structure by adding as-a-Service products on top of each other and forming intersections, which is referred to as Everything as a Service (XaaS).
How would you like to be able to concentrate on your actual work?
Of course, you could take care of contacting the people involved, moving the meetings and informing all the attendees yourself. Spending lots of time today, tomorrow and ever after on communication about such a simple subject. Or you could let artificial intelligence take care of it. Like your colleagues, you have enough to do taking care of your actual work, and the discussions in the break room will no longer have to be about whether, when and where who is meeting whom, and if there might be a clever solution to avoid having to deal with all these details. Because yes, there is. So, you see, even such a simple topic can have a very positive effect on the working day through the use of an intelligent solution. The Internet of Things is all about data – specifically, about sensible organisation and processing of masses of data. We like to call it ‘big data’. But this big data is useless if you can’t control and process it in a sensible way. Let’s stick with our simple example of meeting organisation, because it presents such pleasantly clear and comprehensible principles: digitisation allows us to access data about what room is in use when, and when which attendee is available.
Become familiar with meeting behaviour and use it in planning!
This data is already being combined to help us plan our meetings.
But what about if we could use meeting behaviour to make adjustments? Couldn’t we store information on whether meetings arranged by Colleague X are really always used to the full? Maybe that colleague has a tendency to always plan in too much time. The opposite might apply to Colleague Y, who is never finished, and the attendees of the next meeting are thus always putting pressure on him. If this behaviour was known, then AI could adjust the meeting times accordingly and perhaps plan in more time for the colleague who always overruns in any case. In addition, artificial intelligence could make the user who requires less time aware of that fact and ask him if he might want to shorten the meeting, if the system identifies that the time period would be suitable for another meeting.
Looking towards digitisation 2020, we can therefore say: intelligent solutions will help us to be more efficient and to use resources cleverly in future. We are familiar with similar concepts in the assistance systems of modern cars that brake and steer for us when necessary. Why should the office be any different? Organising and managing meetings? AI can do that as least as well as humans. And to be honest, we have better things to do.
Acceptance of AI grows after initial experiences
As soon as 2020, some companies are sure to use intelligent systems in their offices that could considerably simplify everyday work step-by-step on many levels. Those who try little by little, gain initial experience and get over the typical teething problems at the start will invest more in intelligent IT platforms. You can’t just say, ‘Right, as of today we rely on artificial intelligence.’ Many big corporations and also SMEs are working on making everyday life easier for their employees and making more efficient work possible with step-by-step integration of AI in work processes. No one will be able to avoid dealing with the topics of IT platforms, AI, IoT and XaaS.
External partners also make sense in IT
SMEs in particular need reliable partners for advancing digitisation. Previously, there were one or several in-house IT specialists who helped employees, mostly with Buddha-like calm, when they were at a loss with IT issues. Nowadays, we need additional expert partners to help us to find and implement the right use cases for our individual business. The vision for digitisation 2020 is therefore: who is willing to leave their comfort zone, keep an eye on their own business, competitors and the market and put their faith in intelligent solutions? Anyone who does so will have nothing to fear from advancing digitisation, but rather can use it to their advantage.