By Jen Sweeney
During his World Partner Conference keynote speech in July, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced Project GigJam, a productivity tool that uses the Cortana voice assistant to gather information from different sources (email, calendar, databases) and packages it, on the fly, into user-created and platform-agnostic “mini-apps.” The announcement caught the attention of tech writers, who described the app as game-changing and boundary-crossing, and noted that it “seemingly creates a new app category.”
GigJam isn’t the first attempt at solving the enterprise productivity/project management/collaboration challenge. Microsoft has made dents with an array of tools (Delve and Sway), acquisitions (Wunderlist, Acompli), a device (Surface Hub) and improvements to existing suites and applications (Office 365, SharePoint, Project, Dynamics CRM). In recent years, more and more companies—big and small, established and startup—have been entering the fray with a range of solutions. Among the more notable are Slack, Podio and Wrike, all of which are highly customizable and easily integrated with countless services and applications.
The difference with GigJam, Slack and others—and perhaps the reason why they are getting so much attention—is that they seem to offer just the right amount of simplicity, scope and flexibility for today’s workers. They have come the closest to creating a solution that businesses sorely need.
But no matter how intuitive, integrated and simple they may be, these apps cannot deliver a true solution on their own. A culture transformation needs to occur, which requires a top-down commitment. Leaders need to participate and to communicate the “why” to the rest of the organization—why silos are out and transparency is in. They also need to ensure that they provide the “how”—employees need to learn how to use the technology before they can improve efficiency and productivity.
In a July 13 blog post, the team behind Project GigJam noted that, despite the enormous changes that technology investment has brought about, including enabling an always-connected workforce, it nevertheless has had little effect on how much time and effort users have to spend working with others to get things done.
“It shouldn’t be this hard,” they write.
No, it shouldn’t, but it will remain a significant challenge until organizations understand that productivity and efficiency are the result of more than just new technology.