The Role of Technology in the Post-COVID Era: A Conversation with Lorraine Parker-Clegg

On Thursday, May 21, Francesco Rulli, Global CEO of Querlo, had an engaging and inspiring conversation with Lorraine Parker-Clegg, a Global Human Resources Executive. They explored their views on what they think the world will need to face in the post-COVID era, from both a business and a personal perspective.

Lorraine, like many others, predicts that there will be a substantial increase in the number of people who work remotely. She also expressed that this shift will bring about a broad set of challenges and that it is important to ensure that “execution excellence isn’t lost.” This creates an opportunity to better prepare everyone in a company, particularly managers, for the next set of challenges they will face. Managers are constantly finding themselves in situations where it is difficult for them to meet the demands and questions of those they are working with, not because they themselves are not good at their jobs, but because they were not trained to deal with the specific challenges they face. Lorraine states that she believes a solution to this issue is that in the coming months, we have to work especially hard at adequately training managers and other employees so that they can work effectively during this time of struggle. 

In their conversation, Francesco and Lorraine also discussed the role technology will play in helping people and companies overcome challenges in the post-COVID era. They discussed that it is extremely important that every person in a certain company knows how to use the technology that they need to in order to succeed at working remotely. Without ensuring this, companies will be less effective and cogent as a team. Lorraine also brought up a very important point that people are still learning how to trust technology. People are learning to trust that a piece of technology such as a chatbot, for example, would be able to “do the right thing.” In order to initiate this trust, companies such as Querlo who are building Digital Assistants must work hard to ensure that their technology will produce the right outcome if a person relies on it for support. Lorraine importantly added that tas part of this trust process, Digital Assistants need to incorporate aspects of inclusion and diversity that companies had worked toward in an in-person setting. She stated that while all of this seems somewhat complicated, one of the most important factors in establishing trust between people and AI systems is that the systems are easy to use. 

Although figuring out the most effective way to work remotely for different companies will be complicated and may take some time, Lorraine closed by saying that she believes we will eventually find the right balance between human interaction and technology assistance, and that AI will be able to help save time and energy as we figure this balance out.

Digital Assistants in the HR and Emergency Space: Conversation with Sabya Mitra

On Wednesday, May 19, Francesco Rulli, Global CEO of Querlo, and Sabya Mitra, CEO of Renew HR, engaged in an interesting discussion about the impact of Artificial Intelligence systems in the world of HR, specifically how AI solutions can assist during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sabya has been working in HR for the last 20 years and specializes in SuccessFactors in both small and large companies. 

Before talking specifically about the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on HR all around the world, he importantly draws attention to the fact that this is not the first time our world has dealt with a crisis or natural disaster situation. He uses Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters, such as blizzards, that commonly isolate people in the Northeast, as examples of times when HR has to quickly figure out a way to effectively communicate with their employees. This issue arises because each employee is stuck in a different location and they are looking for company policy on how the situation is going to be handled and they are looking for the next steps they should take themselves. 

Sabya noted that another important issue that arises during times like these is “how to communicate to a large number of people, with different kinds of skill sets in terms of technology and other things, and communicate with them very decisively and in a quick period of time.” He thinks that Artificial Intelligence could greatly help effectively alleviate this complex problem. Sabya notes that one of the reasons why AI would be so useful is because it uses machine learning. Therefore, it would be able to learn from the last crisis scenario and improve itself going forward to be much more prepared for the types of questions that employees would be asking. This type of learning to improve question response is crucial because people tend to feel even more lost and anxious when they reach out to HR and don’t receive the help they are seeking. On a normal day, people in HR will receive around 20 emails and/or phone calls, however, during a crisis, that number will double or even triple. It would be virtually impossible for a person to respond to all of those questions within a day on a consistent basis without the help of AI. Sabya notes that it is important not to keep employees waiting hours, or even days, for their serious questions to be answered. 

Another substantial benefit of using AI to assist HR is that the system will communicate with HR about the feelings of their employees in order to help them figure out how to go forward during the crisis as a united company. 

During the conversation, Francesco showed Sabya one of Querlo’s chatbots as an example of how employees could access information in a simple, understandable format–almost like a WhatsApp conversation. The chatbot would also be using machine learning during this process and would communicate the concerns of the employees back to HR. This could help HR improve policies, and focus on providing their employees with the information they really want. In response to seeing the chatbot, Sabya enthusiastically says, “what you have shown, is exactly what would be needed in different situations, but particularly in crisis situations…we should learn from our mistakes based on what happened in the past…HR should know the types of questions their employees are asking so that they can be better prepared.”

How Can AI Shape Our Return to Work in a New Reality? A Conversation with David Emanuel

David Emanuel is the Chief Human Resources Officer at APR Energy. He has more than 30 years of global human resources experience, including a position as the Senior Vice President of Global Human Resources at CIT. On Thursday, May 21, Francesco Rulli, Global CEO of Querlo, and David spoke about what the transition back to work will look like after the COVID-19 pandemic in the near future, and in the distant future, and the role that Artificial Intelligence will play in those changes. David stated that coming back to work is “[his] biggest focus, and how [they] can do that safely is an immediate challenge.” 

When asked whether he has seen a difference in the morales and sentiment of the employees of the companies he works with throughout the COVID-19 crisis, David says that he believes the crisis has had a direct impact on employees, especially in terms of their productivity—he thinks they are wondering, “am I working hard enough?” He believes that companies need to figure out a better way to validate people’s work and ensure that they see the impact their work is having. Francesco noted that he has found a similar sentiment among others he has talked to. People who are used to having conversations in person are struggling with the fact that they can’t even see other people’s faces while they are talking to them. This has a tendency to lower motivation to work hard and lower the sense of satisfaction from work that is already done. For these reasons, companies need to figure out how their employees can effectively work from home. 

Another important factor that arises from this is that lower motivation and satisfaction might lead to struggles with mental health and anxiety. Francesco noted that Querlo has recently launched a chatbot that can help companies assess the condition their employees are in order to provide them with the support they need. 

The big question that everyone has been asking and wondering about lately is “will we be going back to normal, or alternatively, what will a new normal look like?” When prompted with this question, David responded that he did not think we will ever be going back to the “old normal.” However, interestingly, he also believes that we haven’t yet seen the “new normal”. He states that he thinks collaborative spaces will definitely need to “change shape” in the near future, but five years from now, things could be completely different because we will have had the opportunity to work through issues that arise with new ways of working and formulate the safest and most effective way of moving forward.

AI with a 💖— Supporting 700-Year-Old Italian Art and Culture during COVID-19 Together.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented people from being able to travel and be around large groups of people, and as a result, many famous historic locations that financially rely on tourist revenue are greatly suffering. In an effort to support one of Italy’s greatest displays of historic art and architecture, Querlo has recently created a chatbot that is aimed at encouraging people to donate to help maintain Italy’s wonderful monuments of cultural and artistic importance. 

This chatbot is not only practical in the sense that it will increase the number of donations these monuments receive, but it is also informative since it allows people to learn more about the Opera del Duomo through a series of short videos that give tours of parts of the complex and provide an overview of the culture they bring to Italy. It creates an exchange of knowledge and passion to join people together to help keep the 700-year-old beauty and history of these monuments alive. 

Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore https://operaduomo.firenze.it/en

One of the most innovative and clever features of this chatbot is that it allows people to have virtual “conversations” with artists from the Renaissance period. For example, people are able to “interact” with Donatello, Filippo Brunelleschi, Michaelangelo, and others. People can ask the artists questions they have about COVID-19, concerns they may, or anything else. Through these conversations, people who are experiencing loss and loneliness during this pandemic can relate to Renniasance artists who likely endured similar difficulties during their own time. Their questions will also help train the Natural Language Understanding (NLU) abilities of this chatbot. The arts, and the culture and spirituality associated with them, are an excellent way to find comfort.

This chatbot supports both people and historic institutions during this time when comfort is much needed. This type of technology can also be used to help and support other causes or institutions that are struggling with similar issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are interested in learning more about Querlo’s Artificial Intelligence programs, reach out to info@querlo.com.