Guest Post: Leveraging AI in Intranets: Toward an Augmented Digital Workplace

Learn how Powell Software is engineering AI in intranets for augmented employee experience.

Like nearly everyone else, the product team at Powell Software has been captivated (if cautiously) by Open AI’s ChatGPT since its launch. We’re exploring ways to relevantly and usefully integrate the capability into our software, and are excited about the possibilities. In the article I’ll lay out Powell’s vision for the AI intranet and augmented digital workplaces.  

Summer 2023: Here’s the state of AI at Powell.

As we’ve experimented with AI-driven content creation and analysis capabilities, one of the most striking outcomes has been AI’s ability to categorize content based on tags, topics, and other criteria. For content managers, this ability represents a potentially significant development: AI-assisted content organization can improve both efficiency and search.

Another discovery: Quality prompts matter when interacting with AI systems like Open AI. Clear and precise prompts return AI-generated content that’s more relevant and valuable for the intended audiences. Expect this understanding to be a differentiator among independent software vendors (ISVs) integrating Open AI technology into their products.

Accelerating the augmented digital workplace

These days nearly every article or discussion about the “future of work” (and they are countless) includes some mention of the “augmented digital workplace.” What does it mean? And how close are we getting to it?

First, what it is:

An augmented digital workplace integrates artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced automation capabilities to enhance the user experience, streamline workflows, and support decision-making.

So how close is it? Here are just a few inspiring ideas Powell Software has explored so far:

Augmented Contributor Experience

These are our top 4 ideas that can give back hours each week to content managers and contributors:

  • Assisted contribution: AI can offer suggestions for catchy titles, descriptions, and metadata.
  • Writing news articles: AI-intranet tools can offer topic suggestions, summarize information, and generate outlines.
  • Creating more relevant content: AI analysis can call out for content managers the content that most resonates with users.
  • Automatically creating fun content: You know what they say about all work and no play. AI can generate engaging content such as “Fact of the Day” or “On This Day in History.”

Augmented Employee Engagement

Engaging with your company intranet should feel like added work to your employees. Here are some ways we see AI making engagement more seamless:

  • Employee advocacy: AI can spotlight corporate content to share on social media. It can even suggest the text employees need to quickly personalize their social posts.
  • Ideation: AI-driven tools can support employees in the time-consuming (but essential processes of brainstorming and idea generation, fostering innovation and creative problem-solving across the organization.

Augmented Knowledge Management

We see power and productivity in the possibility of bridging Teams and intranet: AI capabilities can automatically identify and capture crucial conversations and documents from Teams, making them easy to find and access in the intranet.

Augmented UX/UI – The Virtual Building (Coming Soon!)

The Virtual Building is coming to Powell Intranet.

This revolutionary digital, interactive space goes beyond the conventional UX/UI of intranets and embodies our vision of a full digital workplace. In the Virtual Building employees will find a dynamic and immersive environment for collaboration, communication, and engagement.

It’s an innovation particularly suited for hybrid work, which, if not the new standard paradigm, has come to occupy an unshakeable position of employer and employee acceptance.

The groundbreaking Virtual Building allows you to visualize your digital space as one or several floors. Each floor has multiple rooms representing different sections of your intranet or Microsoft Teams spaces. Within these rooms, users will find various furniture items that serve as interactive elements:

  • A bookcase for accessing documents
  • A TV set for watching videos
  • A tablet for enabling interactions
  • A table and chairs for online meetings

The Virtual Building facilitates meetings and events, making it a versatile space for communication and collaboration.

But it’s not a metaverse. The Virtual Building will provide an immersive experience with the need for third-party hardware like VR glasses.

An augmented digital workplace integrates artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced automation capabilities to enhance the user experience, streamline workflows, and support decision-making.

Augmented Digital Workplace: Still some unsolved challenges

Yes, we’re thrilled about the exciting potential of AI-augmented intranets. But we’re well-focused on solving the business-critical challenges that remain:  

Enterprise Security Concerns 

Information security and privacy concerns are always top-of-mind for any IT leader (not to mention the C-suite), so security skepticism is to be expected with any new, high-impact technology.  

Our objective at Powell Software is to ensure that our AI integration is scalable and secure by leveraging Open AI services hosted on the Azure cloud platform. This approach offers the advantage of Azure’s robust security infrastructure, which adheres to strict compliance and data protection standards. 

We’re committed to proving how the AI system securely sends, handles, and stores data. This helps us protect people’s privacy and be open with our customers. This will help our customers make smart choices about using AI in their business while ensuring they follow data privacy rules and industry standards. 

In organizations with staff in the field, HR leaders have a special set of concerns:

  • How can we ensure that messages reach frontline workers?
  • How can our employee engagement initiatives involve everyone?
  • How can we include employees who don’t have a computer or Microsoft 365 license?

I mention that last concern because, while Microsoft does offers a solution for field workers, most organizations using it would pay a premium price for a feature set they won’t come close to fully using.

However, Powell Intranet offers a mobile app that delivers a tailored intranet experience for field workers. They can access company news, the staff directory, a search tool, and key company documents. With the Powell Intranet app, all employees, regardless of their role, are part of the company and its culture.

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Contributor & Employee Education

As I indicated above, content creators have much to benefit from in an AI-augmented intranet. Understanding the importance of an intuitive user experience for content contributors, we’re developing a contribution journey that seamlessly integrates AI capabilities, automates recurring prompt elements, and offers user-friendly interfaces. The goal: Contributors can easily access AI-powered features without being overwhelmed by complex processes.

Likewise, we’re developing comprehensive employee training in AI intranet features. Your commitment to an AI-augmented intranet should be matched by our commitment to ensure all users will be fully capable in its use, according to their roles.

In conclusion

AI is already revolutionizing how we all communicate, collaborate, and make decisions. We’re dedicated to creating AI-driven solutions for the digital workplace. As Powell continues to develop augmented digital workplace technology, we place the highest value on what we learn from our experiences and how we adapt to move forward. Our insights inform our product development and enable us to deliver AI-driven solutions that transform organizations.

If the future is now, where is your intranet?

Our partners at StitchDX can help you elevate your digital employee experience for better communication, collaboration, and productivity with their “Discovery first” approach. Reach out to them or click the orange chat button at bottom right of this page.

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