Autodesk Inc.

is planning to have his employees

Netflix

– such as when they visit the company’s internal website, use data analytics and artificial intelligence to design applications based on employee usage history, the Chief Information Officer said.

The project, which involves creating a digital assistant that reminds employees of their self-imposed learning goals, is part of an ongoing effort by companies to understand and improve the way employees use and interact with digital tools.

Moving from a consumer application like Netflix to a work site shouldn’t be so radical, he said.

Prakash Kota,

CIO of Autodesk Inc. based in San Rafael, California, which sells software used by individuals and companies to design and build products, buildings, etc.

The so-called user experience began in information technology about a decade ago, when the iPhone and other consumer technologies entered the workforce and caused a rethinking of the way business applications are developed and distributed.

The pandemic and the impact of telecommuting, where employees are isolated from colleagues and the help desk, has prompted some IT professionals to refocus on improving the employee user experience.

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It’s more important now to invest in this experience, especially to retain employees and make them more efficient and productive as they continue to work remotely, Kota said. Autodesk’s 10,300 employees will continue to work outside the company until at least the end of June, he added.

Using tools such as data analytics and AI, Kota plans to implement new functionality on the company’s internal website, the HR Center, by the end of the year.

One such feature could be a page with recommendations for custom, AI-based tools that employees can use depending on their role. For example, you can recommend a software engineer

Atlassian Corp.

Jira monitored projects based on the application of the tool by others in the same role.

Recommendations presented in the workforce center or by email are generated by data analysis tools that track information such as time spent using specific applications, Kota said. The goal is to understand which tools benefit our employees and which are important, he said.

By tracking employee use of the tools, managers can also determine if employees are at risk of burnout by understanding how much time they spend using applications such as video conferencing platforms, Kota said.

Prakash Kota, Autodesk Chief Information Officer.

Photo:

Autodesk

Protecting employee privacy will continue to be an important element in the development of the new Employee Center functions. We don’t spy on anyone with email, Kota said.

Another novelty could be an AI-driven PDA that guides new employees through the integration process and reminds them to stick to the career goals they’ve set for themselves.

For example, an employee may set a personal goal to spend two to three hours a month learning a new skill, and a PDA can encourage them to keep working, Kota said. Employees can also limit the amount of time they spend in meetings; a PDA can remind them when they’ve crossed the limit, Kota said.

This will help you, but will not solve the problem for you, Kota said.

Some of these features are expected to be deployed in the coming quarters and will be developed based on feedback.

Early last year, the Job Center was launched as a central website where employees can access information about Autodesk and their role within the company. Part of the website is HelpBot, an AI-powered virtual assistant that automatically answers many IT-related questions.

More than 60 percent of IT-related requests are now handled by HelpBot in one minute, Kota said.

Autodesk is one of many companies working to improve the employee experience with technologies such as automation and data analytics, according to Jason Wong, vice president of research at the technology research firm.

Gartner Inc.

This is partly because remote workers need to collaborate effectively with other teams and get real-time answers to technical questions. The pandemic has also accelerated the implementation of new digital initiatives in many companies. And companies are trying to mirror the technology that employees use in their lives, which is simple, intuitive and personalized.

However, there are drawbacks that ISDs should be aware of when using data analytics to monitor and evaluate employee performance.

They don’t want it to be like Big Brother, Mr. Wong said.

And the combination of safety, performance and user-friendliness of the application must be carefully calibrated. For example, too much emphasis on security can overwhelm the user and make it difficult to use the application. It’s a good balance for the CIO, he said.

Email Sarah Castellanos at sara.castellanos@wsj.com.

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