More and more time is being spent by employees interacting with each other, customers, partners and suppliers, as part of delivering projects, products and services. These interactions often relate to searching, coordinating, synthesising, understanding, reasoning, decisioning, and monitoring. This is not a surprise as it reflects the complexity of knowledge work. Arguably the reason for productivity stagnation over the past decade has been attributable to the increasing knowledge complexity, volatility and velocity, even though during the same period there has been rapid technology advancement.
The digital transformation of employee interactions has the potential for far reaching socioeconomic benefits, especially upon productivity, performance and self-sufficiency.
There are three types of knowledge worth considering:
- Transactional knowledge involving highly repeatable tasks, data standardisation and low volatility. This has become the fertile ground for Robotic Process Automation. At best this only represents 30% of the knowledge work and its coverage will reduce as more and more exceptions are generated.
- Explicit knowledge is where it is written down such as contained within Standard Operating Procedures, which includes the adherence to policies and regulatory matters.
- Tacit knowledge is contained in employee’s heads, which has led to a material growth of employed ‘subject matter experts’ generating a greater volume and variety of interactions.
Where there is widespread reliance upon tacit knowledge it leads to more and more subjective decisions that tend to increase:
- Falsehoods (false positives and false negatives)
As knowledge complexity, velocity and volatility increases the cost of coordination grows leading to:
- Growth of permutations: choices, pathways and outcomes
- Growth of fragmentation: subject matter experts knowledge becomes narrower
- Growth of subjective decision-making
- Growth of knowledge dilution as people leave taking the knowledge with them
- Growth of nano risks as the permutations of choice increase
This has led to an increasing gap between explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge, as documents are no longer fit for purpose to handle permutation complexity.
Organisations need to think differently about their over reliance upon tacit knowledge and the counterproductive impact upon employee interactions. The ability to put knowledge into chatbots is no longer a technology challenged, but the potential is being suppressed by the lack of understanding and the lack of new business frameworks.
Conversations-as-a-service is designed to tackle the challenges outlined above. The shift towards a workforce consisting of chatbots and employees working together is a ‘revolution in interaction’ that is now gaining momentum.
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