The Center for Data Innovation spoke with Tommy Weir, chief executive officer and founder of Enaible, a startup based in Boston that offers an AI platform to help companies understand how their workforce is performing. Weir discussed how Enaible increases business efficiency and productivity, but also supports employees’ career growth and well-being.
Eline Chivot: What has led you to create Enaible? What are the problems that you set out to solve?
Tommy Weir: I’m passionate about helping leaders become the best they can, and I firmly believe that every employee deserves to be led by a great leader.
For the past two decades, I’ve worked closely with CEOs—coaching them and sharing perspectives on what makes great leaders—and discovering the power and role of data science in leadership. From these experiences, I’ve authored a handful of books for which have earned numerous accolades, including a number one best-seller status on Amazon, and I regularly present at industry and global events.
In October 2016, I traveled to Tokyo to learn more about applied AI and how companies like Media Lab, Sony Labs, and Google are doing innovative and progressive things with AI. This is when I had my “aha moment,” and this is what has led me to discover the relationship between AI and leadership. Deeply curious about this, I learned the basics of coding for machine learning to better understand how AI can significantly impact and enhance leadership…and I was hooked.
Two years later, in 2018, I hired a rock-star team of data scientists and opened the world’s first leadership AI lab. Combining 20 years’ experience in leadership research and coaching CEOs with AI, we set out to solve the productivity paradox and created Enaible: AI-powered leadership.
This resolved a private frustration that I’ve lived with: How can I impact leaders at scale? AI makes this possible and even more. Now, even if a manager is average or poor, Enaible gives them a surrogate in the form of our Leadership Recommender (Editor’s note: Enaible’s Leadership Recommender is an algorithm that identifies specific points in an employee’s workflow that could be made more efficient.).
Chivot: How is your technology particularly suited to help companies improve workforce productivity?
Weir: Enaible is the only of its kind to maximize impact and execution with AI-powered software. Using a company’s existing system data, Enaible quantifies productivity at the aggregate and team level through a multi-dimensional calculation of capacity utilization, consistency, and quality impact.
Enaible’s innovative AI Trigger-Task-Time (TTT) algorithm was pioneered from the intersection of leadership science and AI. It simultaneously factors complexity, sequence, internal and external factors, patterns, time of day, and duration to deliver the first normalized productivity score. The unique TTT algorithm identifies the specific patterns of work that underpin and determine business success, it captures the complexity of individual, nuanced productivity through AI.
Sitting behind an organization’s enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), calendars, communication and industry-specific software systems are a series of tables with time-stamped data that automatically capture what and when employees are working. Enaible feeds that data to the TTT algorithm, which measures productivity through a series of factors including the complexity of the task, sequence of tasks performed, and the time of day and duration of time of when the task was completed. Leveraging this, the algorithm makes predictions, just like a human would, to create leadership hypotheses and ask the right questions.
Enaible’s Leadership Recommender uses the productivity data, gathered by the TTT algorithm, to provide actionable, prioritized recommendations to lead their teams. Powered by AI, the recommendations evolve as they continuously learn from the data gathered through employees’ daily activity.
Enaible’s AI helps teams get radically more done by reimagining how things should get done. Enaible has found that AI task allocation decreases the time it takes to complete a task by 57 percent compared to rules-based allocation. Not only does enabling employees to work more efficiently help with a company’s bottom line, but also with an employee’s overall career growth and well-being. By identifying how each employee can work more efficiently, they are able to achieve more within the organization, and out of it.
We continue to invest in R&D and ensure our AI productivity platform evolves with and meets the needs of today’s changing workforce. We are also extremely committed to listening to customer feedback and applying it to our platform. In fact, our recent remote work management features are a direct result of listening to our customers and the needs across their organizations. Our latest remote work management and productivity capabilities provide enhanced visibility into workforce productivity regardless of employees’ location. With a new remote productivity score and remote work productivity dashboard, we extended the power of the Enaible platform to help business leaders more confidently manage a remote workforce while maximizing employee and revenue growth.
Chivot: What are some of the concrete benefits for employers, and what are the advantages for employees? Can you give examples of how some of your clients have used your platform successfully?
Weir: While other productivity tools are designed to streamline work, aid in organizing tasks, or catalog prioritization, Enaible solves the productivity problem at the human level. Enaible is not meant to replace existing workplace software. Instead, it assists from the very top levels of corporate organizations by providing C-level executives with summary statistics, trends, and recommendations of their firm, as well as helping employees perform work in the most efficient and sustainable way possible.
The Enaible AI productivity platform tools give managers and employees what they need to improve. It shifts billions of rows of underutilized data and turns it into personalized, actionable recommendations for workers to follow. These tools help employees know what to do to get better and exactly where they can stop wasting time.
Diving into some of the benefits our customers are realizing with the Enaible platform—First, it helps them eliminate wasted time. By shortening the time to reach productivity peak in the mornings, one company eliminated 7,500 overtime hours, which equated to significant cost savings. Second, it provides deep insights: For least productive employees, another organization discovered it took five employees to do the work of three average employees, which cost the company significant time and money in wasted resources. Third, it shifts impact: By better understanding employees’ optimal work patterns and subsequently placing employees in best-suited shifts, one company increased the volume of work they can handle by 42 percent. Fourth, it leads to faster employee output: By understanding and focusing on ideal time adherence of its employees, one customer increased task completion time by 36 percent across its workforce.
Chivot: Do you think the uptick in interest for workplace monitoring is here to stay? What could help in making people embrace it?
Weir: The fear of worker monitoring will subside. In the next six to twelve months, it will become so pervasive, it disappears. Frankly, we shouldn’t fear it now. But we do because we haven’t contextualized monitoring. We think of Big Brother trying to catch us doing something wrong. But without being monitored, how can we improve? A great leader should be like a good big brother, one that helps you grow, develop, achieve more. The benefits of monitoring far outweigh the concerns.
Further, remote work is here to stay. Because of this, CEOs need to ensure their employees are as productive—or more so—than when they were in the office. A solution like Enaible provides leaders with a clear, real-time understanding of how their workforce is performing while empowering employees with data-based to help them improve productivity and career growth.
Imagine you’re managing somebody, and you could guide and offer them recommendations on how to do their job better. That’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what we’ve built.
Chivot: How do you see the role of data and new technologies like AI in improving leadership and management roles in organizations in the future?
Weir: AI and data are the linchpins to improving leadership and positioning companies for success coming out of this pandemic and looming recession. There is broad diversity of benefits to their use in this area. First, it improves productivity: Employee-led productivity growth is the key to returning entire economies back to health, and this is where AI truly shines. Far from eliminating jobs, AI will help to build the uber-productive workforce of the future; a workforce that optimizes time instead of wasting it. One of the greatest appeals of AI is the tangible insights it can yield, as well as the answers it can provide to business-critical questions such as: How many productive hours are worked in a day? And, more importantly, how can we increase them?
Second, AI empowers employees by offering leaders the opportunity to give employees time to both chase new clients and get to know your existing ones deeply, allowing you to radically personalize your offering to them—the best way to secure their long-term loyalty. AI helps spot the trends in your sector, make accurate sales forecasts, and mine your social media relationship with your customers to release profound insights for your research and marketing departments to really sink their teeth into.
Third, the technology helps develop nurtured and fulfilled employees: AI can automate so much that is drudgery leaving employees with more interesting jobs, and employers with more loyal workers as a result. If you fail to move with the times and offer more satisfying and creative work, your best people will find it elsewhere.
Fourth, when recruiting: Drive a new wave of tech-skilled young people out of schools and colleges—all looking for AI-savvy companies. There will be an almighty scramble for the best talent and if your company innovates through technology, candidates will flock to work for you.
Finally, AI and big data are creating new markets and unforeseen opportunities. A recent Deloitte report highlights unforeseen results of technology uptake, such as the car leading to the growth of suburbs. As the report points out, it’s impossible to tell what goods and services people will demand in the future—coffee shops, gyms, and the importance of cell phones would have been completely unpredicted just 50 years ago. The question is, what incredible opportunities may emerge from left field if you stick with your tech investment today?