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Workplace productivity - a market map

Updated: May 16

1. Introduction

In today's dynamic business environment, organisations are continually seeking innovative ways to enhance productivity while minimising time and expenses. The emergence of tools and solutions that boost productivity has revolutionised how businesses operate, offering unparalleled opportunities to streamline workflows and optimise resource allocation across teams – in people, marketing, ops, product, finance, design and others. From project management platforms facilitating seamless collaboration to expense tracking software automating tedious processes, these technologies have become indispensable assets for modern startups, scaleups and multi-nationals.   

Enhancing productivity is not only a focus for tech companies.

Governments across the world are intent on improving productivity following a period of stagnation and limited productivity gains. 

Tech companies will be the early developers and adopters of tools capable of delivering significant gains, so we believe assessing their stacks provides a helpful insight into the direction of travel in wider sectors!

This paper delves into the transformative role these new solutions play in driving efficiency gains from both time and expenses perspectives, providing insights into how businesses can leverage these advancements to achieve sustainable growth and competitiveness.

2. The market map

This market map provides a comprehensive overview of the landscape of workplace productivity tools, categorising them along two key axes: individual-focused to organisation-focused and automated to manual functionality. By delineating these axes, we aim to offer a nuanced understanding of the spectrum of tools available, their intended scope of application, and their level of automation.

The x-axis

The x-axis of the map represents the continuum between tools tailored to support individual productivity and those designed to enhance organisational efficiency. At one extreme, individual-focused tools cater to the specific needs and workflows of individual users, empowering them to manage tasks, streamline communication, and optimise personal productivity. Conversely, organisation-focused tools are geared towards facilitating collaboration, coordination, and resource allocation across teams or entire enterprises. These tools typically offer features such as project management, team collaboration, and performance analytics, aiming to improve overall productivity at the organisational level.

The y-axis

On the y-axis, we discern between tools that operate on a spectrum from manual to automated functionality. Manual tools rely primarily on human input and intervention, requiring users to actively engage in various tasks and processes to achieve desired outcomes. In contrast, automated tools leverage advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotic process automation to streamline workflows, minimise manual intervention, and expedite task execution. These automated solutions not only enhance efficiency but also reduce errors, mitigate operational risks, and enable organisations to reallocate human capital to more strategic endeavours.

By situating workplace productivity tools within this framework, we hope that our market map facilitates improves understanding of the space and contributes to identification of tools that align with their specific needs and objectives.

3. Areas we consider exciting

Learning X Knowledge​

What do we mean by this?

  • Productivity solutions offer centralised platforms for knowledge management, ensuring easy access to relevant information.

  • These solutions facilitate organised documentation of processes, procedures, and best practices, streamlining onboarding and continuous learning.

  • Through searchable databases and repositories, employees can quickly find the information they need to perform their roles

  • AI-powered recommendation systems suggest relevant learning materials based on employees' roles, skills, and preferences.

  • Collaboration features within productivity tools enable knowledge sharing among team members, fostering a culture of continuous learning and knowledge exchange.

  • Real-time communication tools enhance accessibility to subject matter experts, enabling quick resolution of queries and clarification of role-specific knowledge.

  • Analytics and insights generated by solutions help identify knowledge gaps and training needs, enabling targeted initiatives.

  • Mobile accessibility ensures that employees can access learning anytime, anywhere, promoting flexibility and self-directed learning.

  • Integration with learning management systems (LMS) allows for seamless tracking of employee progress, completion of training modules, and certification management.

Talent management x skills mapping​

What do we mean by this?

  • Productivity solutions offer comprehensive talent analytics, providing insights into the skills, strengths, and development areas of team members.

  • Data-driven assessments help identify skill gaps within teams, enabling targeted training and development initiatives.

  • AI-powered talent mapping tools analyse current skill sets and future requirements, facilitating strategic workforce planning.

  • Performance tracking features allow managers to monitor employee progress and achievements, identifying high-potential individuals for promotion opportunities.

  • Integration with learning management systems (LMS) enables seamless access to training resources and skill development programs.

  • Customised learning paths and skill-building modules cater to individual employee needs and career aspirations, fostering continuous growth.

  • Feedback mechanisms within productivity solutions enable continuous performance evaluation and constructive coaching, supporting talent development efforts.

  • Transparent career development pathways communicated through productivity platforms encourage employee engagement and retention, promoting a culture of internal promotion and advancement.

4. Applications of AI within workplace productivity are broadening

AI holds immense potential for businesses across sectors. For example, a key application is content generation, where generative models can produce text, images, audio, and even video content. This capability streamlines content creation processes, from marketing materials and product descriptions to personalised customer communication.​​

Similarly, generative AI is changing the game in product design and prototyping. By generating numerous design variations based on input parameters and constraints, businesses can explore a wide range of possibilities quickly and cost-effectively, accelerating the innovation cycle.

Another compelling use case is in data augmentation and synthesis. Generative models can generate synthetic data that closely resembles real data, enabling businesses to augment their datasets for training machine learning models, thus enhancing model performance and generalisation.

5. AI is resulting in measurable impacts in productivity, with economic impacts 

The expanding role of AI tools in workplace productivity is revolutionising the operations of startups and larger tech companies across diverse teams, including product development, marketing and sales, engineering, operations and logistics, and people. Within these teams, AI-powered solutions are being integrated to streamline processes, enhance decision-making, and foster innovation. It is already proving fruitful – though formal studies are few and far between, studies have been done on the impact of deploying AI assistance in customer care as shown below. This all contributes towards AI's growing impact on the global economy, also the subject of leading studies, one of which is shown. 

Many AI solutions, particularly the more sophisticated solutions built on top of Gen AI, are sufficiently fresh that studies have not been done on how they boost efficiencies within case companies. However, this NBER study indicates that impacts can be immediate and transformative.  

Mckinsey looked at Gen Ai's potential impact on the work activities required in 850 occupations, modelling scenarios in which Gen AI could perform each of more than 2,100 “detailed work activities”. With this in mind, they. scaled up the impacts to form macro predictions for the global economy. 

6. A sample approach for startups when considering new solutions in their teams

  • Identify Pain Points and Objectives: Start by identifying the specific pain points and objectives within your people functions. Common challenges might include people, marketing and product. 

  • Assess Available Solutions: Research and assess available solutions that address your identified pain points. There are numerous tools and platforms designed for various functions. 

  • Start Small and Scale Gradually: Start with a small-scale pilot project to test the effectiveness of solutions in addressing your specific needs. This allows you to minimise risk and gather feedback from users before implementing the solution company-wide. 

  • Ensure Data Quality and Security: Many solutions rely heavily on data, so it's essential to ensure that your data is of high quality, relevant, and securely managed. Establish data governance policies and practices to maintain data integrity, privacy, and security.

  • Provide Training and Support: Invest in training and support for employees who will be using solutions in their daily work. Ensure that they understand how to use the tools effectively and that they feel comfortable with the technology. 

  • Monitor Performance and Iterate: Continuously monitor the performance and impact of solutions on your people functions. Track key metrics that vary by team. 

  • Promote Transparency and Ethical Use: Be transparent with employees about the use of solutions in business functions and reassure them that they are meant to augment human capabilities rather than replace them. 


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