woman holding a phone to show how artificial intelligence helps employee engagement and people power

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Augmenting people power through Artificial Intelligence

August 7, 2018


In a world where technology is advancing at an incredible pace, more firms are realising that their strength lies beyond technology: when it comes to innovation management, they’re finding that their workforce is their strongest ally.

This is all well and good, but building a holistic engagement programme is something of a challenge for larger organisations, whose people can be spread across the world in various countries. The Publicis Groupe, for example, has 80,000 employees worldwide in over 100 countries.

How, then, can a large company – in this case, a global leader in marketing, communication and digital transformation – put people first and empower every one of its 80,000 employees? By combining technology and people power.

AI as an engagement tool

A McKinsey study in 2017 noted that Artificial Intelligence (AI) was finally starting to deliver real-life business benefits, with companies investing almost $40 billion in the technology last year alone.

One of its useful applications is in people empowerment. AI holds the potential to enhance customisation of employee engagement, encompassing every aspect of an employee’s work life, from role clarity and requirements to development and recognition.

In the belief that an augmented workforce leads to higher engagement, which in turn leads to better work and results for clients, our group created Marcel, an AI-powered enterprise platform designed with people-first benefits and experiences in mind.

Named after the founder of the Publicis Groupe, Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, the idea of Marcel is to accelerate transforming the organisation from a holding company into a platform, creating a pioneering borderless, frictionless enterprise workforce. It’s based on 4 key pillars:

  • Knowledge, by serving to educate and inspire our people through creative work and illuminating business, industry, account and cultural intelligence.
  • Connectivity, by finding, matching, casting and suggesting the most appropriate people within the group to connect, depending on their needs, interests, behavioural patterns and desires.
  • Opportunity, by providing a multitude of ways that each person can contribute, participate and flex their skills and passions in other projects beyond their day-to-day tasks.
  • Productivity, by turning highly manual processes – such as timesheets and expenses – into seamless and easy tasks.

The platform is fuelled by Microsoft AI technology, and incorporates Knowledge Graph technology to address one of the biggest challenges in transforming the group into a platform: the vast amounts of data, with an estimate of well over 5 billion data files. This centralised, integrated source of data connects both structured and unstructured data that exists across the organisation, mapping relationships within it.

How the app works

Launched as a mobile application, Microsoft’s AI tools help the group to process, filter, connect and organise data to make it useful for its people. The platform proactively presents relevant knowledge, connections and opportunities, making intelligent recommendations based on the role, interests and experience of each employee.

It collects information, helps employees find the ideal person within the group for a specific project, and allows users to become part of a global, open team. It’s a creative source, too, with the possibility of crowdsourcing ideas.

By drawing on state-of-the-art AI technology to conceive the ideal tool for empowering our people, we feel we are able to leverage our most powerful weapon: the knowledge, experience, connections and productivity of our strong workforce.

Watch the Marcel demo here.

Tiago Strecht is the Chief Innovation Officer of Publicis One Portugal, where he develops brands globally, regionally and locally, with a major focus in Digital, Technology, Innovation and Activations. After working at Leo Burnett, in 2013 he started Performics Portugal, and joined BBDO two years later. He rejoined the Publicis Group in 2016 to help build the company in Portugal. He is also the Managing Director of Publicis and Digitas.

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