Discussion: Voice Interfaces

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Discussion: Voice Interfaces

Discussion: Voice Interfaces

Modern devices with voice interfaces have assistants that further change decision‐making processes. Apps such as Siri, Cortana, and Google‐Now allow users to talk to their devices, often mobile ones, to access information from either their devices or the Internet. These types of interfaces are increasingly being built into enterprise systems to supplement ways employees gather information, increasing employee efficiency.

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In their classic 1958 Harvard Business Review article, Leavitt and Whisler boldly predicted that IT would shrink the ranks of middle management by the 1980s.18 Because of IT, top‐level executives would have access

16 Thomas L. Friedman, The World is Flat (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005), 145. 17 Ibid. 18 Harold Leavitt and Thomas Whisler, “Management in the 1980s,” Harvard Business Review (November–December 1958), 41–48.

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82 Digital Systems and the Design of Work

to information and decision‐making tools and models that would allow them to easily assume tasks previously performed by middle managers. Other tasks clearly in the typical job description of middle managers at the time would become so routinized and programmed because of IT that lower‐level managers could perform them. As Leavitt and Whisler predicted, the 1980s saw a shrinking in the ranks of middle managers. This trend was partly attributable to widespread corporate downsizing, which forced many organizations to find alternatives to getting the work done and IT solutions to proliferate to fill the gap. However, it was also attributable to changes in decision making induced by IT. Since the 1980s, IT has become an even more commonly employed tool of executive decision makers. IT has increased the flow of information to them and provided tools for filtering and analyzing the information.

Changing Collaboration IT helps make work more team oriented and collaborative. Technologies such as texting (SMS), instant messaging (IM), Web logs (blogs), virtual worlds, groupware, wikis, social networking, and video teleconferencing are at the heart of collaboration today. Groups can form and share documents with less effort using these platforms. Group members can seek or provide information from or to each other much more easily than ever before. And groups can connect by voice or with voice and video using these platforms.

Collaboration takes place in one of four ways. Teams are collocated and work together at the same time, they are collocated but work at different times, they are not located in the same place but work at the same time, or they work from different places at different times. Figure 4.2 summarizes these options and lists representative technologies that facilitate collaboration for each type of team.

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