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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan – Newsletter #38

By: Patrick Donegan

For some time, I’ve been looking for one “source” that curates modern takes on HR Tech, perspectives from the people who build it, and its impact on enterprise — something that’s tailor-made by professionals for decision-makers.

I never found it — so I decided to build it.

Every week, I’ll be sharing fresh insights on tech platforms, design, data, and the future of work — straight to your inbox.

My Thoughts

Jury selection begins this week for the trial of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of biotech company Theranos. Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison and a multi-million dollar fine for allegedly defrauding investors and patients with faulty technology and inaccurate blood tests. The trial raises questions not only about Holmes’s fraudulent business practices, but also the circumstances that allowed her to raise over $800 million from investors.

Startup culture rewards risking it all on the next potential unicorn, but I would argue that investor recklessness is at least partially responsible for the damage Theranos caused. Sure, early-stage startups have issues with their products and can evolve them in an iterative way. But life-altering medical technology cannot be developed like any other tech gadget – the product needs to be proven before it’s marketed as health care. The Theranos example is a reminder for all of us to keep our optimism, but to confirm that we’re seeing reality and not simply the potential of what could be. 

Market Moves

Last year, investors doubled the money they put into funds focused on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) programs — the number rose to $25 billion. Returns show that climate solutions are generating value and creating new revenue streams. Early shareholder returns match those of tech titans like Amazon and Facebook. Green companies including Enel GroupIberdrolaNesteNextEra Energy, and Ørsted generated annual total shareholder returns on the order of 30%. The returns for an emerging wave of second-generation green champs, including Beyond Meat and Tesla, ranged from almost 70% to 80%. As the need to reduce greenhouse gases intensifies, the green champion 🌲🏆 market will only grow. For more on climate innovation, see this BCG report. 

Tech Innovation at Work

Johns Hopkins Medicine 🏥 is introducing a new tool for digital medical records that will identify and provide proactive support for patients most likely to need assistance with virtual appointments. The simple 0-4 risk scale takes into account whether a patient has a completed MyChart or patient portal account, any previous experience with telehealth, and similar actions that indicate a patient’s digital literacy. The goal of this initiative is to provide direction for IT support teams as they adapt to new telemedicine demands. It also removes the burden from already-strained clinical support teams. So far, it seems to be working. 👍

Forrester published a research paper revealing an unexpected cause of low productivity at work: UX. 💻🙅 They interviewed design teams and frontline workers and found that frustrations with user experience — such as constant jumping between applications — can create major losses in productivity. They also found that many companies are shelling out to fix UX shortcomings themselves. Companies like WalmartNetflix, and Home Depot — are using their own design teams to fix their enterprise software. “We’ve seen a 30% increase in dedicated design teams focused on employee software in just the last couple of years,” says Andrew Hogan, Forrester’s principal analyst who led the research. 

According to Vogue Business, augmented reality try-on technology is rapidly approaching market readiness. 👗👖Silicon Valley players like Andreeson Horowitz have invested $8 million dollars in companies like Rtfkt Studios, a digital fashion company. Many anticipate that virtual clothing try-on will boost sales dramatically. According to research by Shopify, the use of 3-D and AR in online shopping can increase conversion by 97% — and reduce returns by up 40%.

PHOTO: VOGUE BUSINESS

Relatedly, Justinmind, a prototyping software for web and mobile apps, now allows users to test designs in both augmented and virtual reality. 🎮 You still need a background in VR development to use it — but the popular program’s new feature will make this cutting-edge technology more accessible and practical to developers and organizations. 

It’s easy to lose focus when building a B2B site — at the end of the day, every design decision must be pushing toward conversion. 📈💰This is easier to do when you focus on the customer journey from end to end. Webflow’s recent article offers tips for building a modern, effective B2B website that focuses on the customer. Some of their tips include:

  • Map the B2B buyer journey. Unlike B2C, it’s more extensive than impulsively clicking “add to cart.”
  • Choose measurable, relevant KPIs like MQL to SQL conversion rate, downloads, and page views.
  • Use personas of your most important prospects to drive UX and create a more cohesive site experience.

The Changing Workplace

Swiss Cognitive is hosting a virtual 🖥️ AI conference on Monday, September 6th, titled Preparing 3 Billion Employees for AI — a Zeitgeist Challenge. The organization cites the decreasing shelf life of current worker skills as a threat to rapidly-growing AI integration in organizations across all industries. They point out an under-recognized problem: how to prepare employees for a positive, cohesive, and productive relationship between them and their AI counterparts. 🤖👷 You can learn more and register for the conference here.

The current worker shortage has forced a lot of companies to rethink their entire organizational structure — including how to woo potential new employees. The candidate experience is now taking center stage in the marketing boardrooms of major companies like AirBnBSlack, and NerdWallet. Employers are storyboarding their candidate’s journey 🗺️, building out their resources and content directed towards applicants, and even making themselves available for a call to provide feedback for candidates who weren’t selected. 📞😓 Compared to the current model, these are promising changes. Read the full article here.

All About Data

PwC recently came out with the results of their pulse survey, The Future of Work. Here are the highlights:

  • 9 out of 10 executives said their company is experiencing higher turnover than normal, and they know it has a lot to do with compensation and benefits. 
  • Wages and salaries are still the number one reason employees are looking for new job opportunities.
  • Employee preferences for hybrid work are “all over the map,” with a fairly even spread across options ranging from fully remote to fully in-person. 19% of all employees surveyed still want the option to be completely remote.

Check out the survey to see more of their findings. 

Click here to subscribe to Exit Interview, a weekly email about tech platforms, design, data, and the future of work — straight to your inbox.

Patrick Donegan

Managing Director

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