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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan – Newsletter #49

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

With experience now on our side, we have the opportunity to be wildly more prepared for anything the pandemic tries to throw at us this coming winter. ❄️ So, if you haven’t already, start preparing yourself and your team by analyzing what went well in last year’s response, as well as what could have gone better. Include your employees by seeking their open and honest feedback, since they will be fielding any potential fallout from your decisions.

It’s also important to keep in mind that, in addition to the traditional stresses of the holiday 🎁 season, this may be a somber time for individuals. Some may be reliving the anxieties of having their loved one working a high-risk job amidst a virus surge, while others may be approaching the anniversary of losing someone close in the height of the pandemic. It is still a very real possibility that an employee may experience loss as a result of COVID.

My recommendations include touching base as a team to reiterate that your organization’s highest priority is its employees’ wellbeing (and if that’s not your number one goal, you may want to prioritize 😬). If you have a hybrid or in-office work policy, make sure you have unambiguous policies for COVID mitigation efforts that everyone is aware of. This also includes policies for handling varying opinions and political views within your organization.

Above all, this is a time for empathy. The holidays are about giving and kindness. Employees, and you, will need that more than ever this year.

Market Moves

We may not know the future of the pandemic, but we can certainly predict its market outlook. In 2021, Research from MarketWatchGlobe Newswire, and Mordor Intelligence forecast market growth of roughly 7%, reaching $1.9 trillion by 2025. 📈

A large part of this market consists of pandemic staples like masks, hand sanitizer, and ventilators. But the push to return to everyday life has also paved the way for cutting-edge public safety and mitigation technology. Here are two tech startups on a mission to keep us safe (and entertained):

Density, a New York-based 🍎 🗽 startup, raised $125 million in funding last week. The company was featured in VentureBeat for its new artificial intelligence-fueled approach to occupancy tracking for companies.

Kameo, a COVID-19 testing service startup, is helping to revive one of the most heavily-impacted industries of the pandemic: entertainment. 🎥 The company, which has raised $8.6 billion this year, has built a complete COVID-19 testing and management platform designed to meet the needs of Hollywood 🎬 and prevent costly delays in production. I chose to highlight Kameo not just because we have them to thank for new seasons of shows like New Girl and The Good Nurse, but because this startup is a premiere example of how customized technology can make or break the efficacy of blanket solutions like widespread testing.

Tech Innovation at Work

If you’ve mastered the Zoom 📷  💻 👩‍💼 call and are looking to take your meetings to the next level, Zoom has created a list of all integrations available on the platform. Browse Zoom apps and third-party integrations for everything from note taking to cloud security. In a hybrid workplace, the potential of lost productivity due to asynchronous platforms can be multiplied. View the list on Zoom’s blog here.

Two words: data strategy. 📊 🖥️ These days, everyone is doing it. In the era of big data, having a data strategy is as fundamental as your ABCs (always be closing). But is your current strategy giving you the best insight? Data is no longer linear. What was once an endless string of zeros and ones is now something so vast and complex that we simply refer to it as “the cloud.” ☁️ Because of the sheer magnitude and capabilities of modern data, it’s time to reevaluate how we use it in our business decisions — which is why a recent piece from Towards Data Science really caught my eye this week. The article explores a new way to become a data-driven organization: by using it to identify long-term advantages, rather than black-and-white ROI metrics. The author illustrates how to apply this new lens using a Data Advantage Matrix (pictured below). By using a Data Advantage Matrix and identifying your unique businesses’ data advantages, you can find sustainable competitive advantages — the foundation of long-term success — rather than surface-level revenue options. It’s absolutely fascinating, and I highly recommend checking out the full piece.

PHOTO: TOWARDS DATA SCIENCE / ALAN

Wells Fargo 🏦 has announced its plans for a 10-year journey into cloud architecture. In the public statement, Christopher Marsh-Bourdon, head of hybrid environments and technology infrastructure at Wells Fargo, shared only a few high-level details about the company’s partnership with major cloud ☁️ platforms Microsoft Azure and Google. “In 2022, we will start deploying applications into the public cloud on US soil,” says Marsh-Bourdon. “We have a private cloud, and a number of flavors of different private clouds based around open source technologies such as Kubernetes.” Of all sectors, banking has been slower than many to reach the cloud, citing security risks and deeply-entrenched legacy applications. If you want to read more about the future of financial institutions in cloud computing, ☁️ 🖥️  check out this article from McKinsey.

The Changing Workplace

Qualtrics released their annual Employee Experience Trends Report for 2022 this month. As you may have guessed, the trends are not ideal. 📉 😧 An additional 5% of the 14,000 employees surveyed intend to leave their jobs compared to last year’s data, and major issues still include burnout, disinterest in returning to the office, and belief that their employer isn’t concerned about employee wellbeing. Of note, research found that those working in middle management roles reported higher levels of burnout than other types of employees.  🔥 In fact, they saw the most significant decrease in intent to stay with their current employer next year — dropping from 83% to 69%. Qualtrics head of employee experience advisory services Benjamin Granger cited the increased expectations on managers to support employee wellbeing and workplace culture as the primary reason for this newly-surfaced trend. While a better work experience has shown significant improvements in employee retention and morale, management burnout can lead to decreased quality of leadership — which can quickly undermine the progress we’ve made thus far. Here’s a summary of the key takeaways from Qualtrics’ findings. You can also download the full report here.

ILLUSTRATION: QUALTRICS

Let’s counter that somewhat disheartening piece with some more lighthearted news. One of the most common reasons employees are against returning to the office is the commute. 🚗 😠 Even with our favorite podcasts or shock jock radio hosts, most of us hate it. But what if we could make commuting great again? At least for people near waterways. An entrepreneurial surf enthusiast is hoping to do just that with a renewed interest in century-old hydrofoil technology. The foil board, described as a “personal, water-based mobility device,” has the appearance of a mini surfboard 🏄🏿 — above the water, that is. Underneath the surface is the hydrofoil technology, which uses a battery-powered device to deflect water pressure downward, allowing rides to reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour (comparable to that of a moped). According to the project’s visionaries, the foil board has the potential of the popular bike-sharing programs already in place in multiple US cities. Read the piece in full in the Wall Street Journal.

Lastly, I want to recommend a somewhat recent episode of The New York Times’ audio show “The Argument.” The piece, Are Workplace Diversity Programs Doing More Harm Than Good?, brings together thought leaders in the organizational behavior, human resources, and DEI spaces to discuss what modern workplace inclusivity programs are getting wrong. It may not be the easiest listen, but, as leaders, things are not always supposed to be easy. Part of our job is hearing things we don’t necessarily want to hear. 👂 🙁 🔇 At least this way you can do it while finishing the dishes. Get the link to “The Argument” on your favorite podcast platform here.

All About Data 

As-a-Service: we’re hearing it everywhere. There’s DaaS, PaaS, DBaaS, CaaS, IaaS, DRaaS, and so many more that thought leaders have migrated to a simple catch-all to define the emerging market: XaaS: Anything as a Service. 

Right now, I want to focus on one particular service model: Software as a Service (SaaS). SaaS is one of the oldest and most common as-a-service offerings. In fact, if you’re reading this email in your company’s Google Workspace, you’re using one right now. They are so prevalent, in fact, that by the end of 2021, 99% of all organizations will use at least one SaaS solution. Here are the 10 biggest SaaS companies this year, how many are you using? 🤔

GRAPHIC: BMC BLOGS / MIKE SONDERS

The transition to remote and hybrid work, the scalability, and the increasingly unique needs of businesses have all contributed to rapid adoption of SaaS over the recent years. As we approach 2022, here are some numbers that paint a very clear picture for the future of SaaS:

  • The SaaS market is currently growing by 18% each year
  • The number of SaaS companies that have IPO’ed increased 125% between 2020 and 2021
  • End-user spending for SaaS offerings is expected to reach nearly $172 million in 2022

Want to do some light reading that can bring you up to speed on the role Software as a Service plays in digital transformation? Start here.

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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