There are very few labs where the to-do list ranges from helping governments predict flooding to improving access to driving tests using voice recognition and keystroke analysis. Both projects, however, sit squarely in the wheelhouse of researchers at the Applied Innovation Exchange (AIE).
An experimental arm of the 200,000-person global consulting firm Capgemini, AIE helps companies apply and sustain innovation across their digital portfolio of products and services. That could include data analytics, artificial intelligence, or, in the case of those floods, geospatial information.
As the AIE team’s work grew and team members moved between labs in different locations around the U.K. and beyond, their London laboratory faced a challenge that’s a package deal with scale: how to onboard new team members quickly without sacrificing too much of other employees’ time in the process, which would inherently slow down their multidisciplinary work. Slack, already the organization’s collaboration hub and knowledge base, emerged as the ideal platform to help streamline AIE’s onboarding process.
“We’re constantly looking at new ways to remove friction and complexity in our workspace. Slack helps us to ensure we are enabling teams, not constraining them.”
To tailor the onboarding experience to each employee’s needs, AIE created a custom Slack bot named Cleo. Based on the responses to a series of simple questions, Cleo sets new users up with the tools and channels relevant to their respective role. So a developer will automatically get access to Trello and GitHub, for example. On top of that, Cleo logs each individual’s responses, adding them to a database that can be searched when future projects arise.
“Before Cleo on Slack, we spent an awful lot of time onboarding new employees, much to the detriment of our ongoing projects,” says Dani El-Zein, an innovation consultant and product owner at AIE. “In one instance, a single employee in our London studio had to bring 13 new teams up to speed—all within one week.”
While Cleo’s primary purpose remains to streamline the onboarding process for new team members, the bot’s responsibilities have expanded over time to include tasks like pointing employees to best-practice documents. Anyone can ask Cleo how to run an ideation workshop or how to create a sprint plan, and it will walk them through the necessary steps.
“Cleo helps us automate workflows to enable our team to focus on the activities that matter most,” says El-Zein. “And Slack is an integral part of making Cleo possible.”
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