News You Might Have Missed: Week of June 15, 2018

Office 365 Gets a Redesign

This week Microsoft announced that they will introduce a series of changed to and Office 365. The changes are built on a lot of users’ feedback and aim to focus on simplicity and context.

The initial set of updates includes three changes:

Simplified ribbon– An updated version of the ribbon designed to help users focus on their work and collaborate. People who prefer to dedicate more screen space to the commands will still be able to expand the ribbon to the classic three-line view.

New colors and icons—Across the apps you’ll start to see new colors and new icons built as scalable graphics—so they render with crisp, clean lines on screens of any size. These changes are designed to both modernize the user experience and make it more inclusive and accessible.

Search—Search will become a much more important element of the user experience, providing access to commands, content, and people. With “zero query search,” simply placing your cursor in the search box will bring up recommendations powered by AI and the Microsoft Graph.

Via Microsoft 

  • I use Office 365 every day across different devices and operating systems and I was delighted to see these changes yet disappointed I will have to wait months before I can use the new tools. This was a classic case where I had to remind myself that not every user is like me.
  • There are over one billion Office users across the world who are very reliant on it for their business. Any change, albeit small, might be perceived as a disruption of someone’s workflow.
  • Rolling out the changes to selected users to gather feedback and make adjustments seems like a sensible move. Yet, Microsoft has to balance what very pragmatic users might feel comfortable with and what millennials, who tend to be more open to change, and have likely grown up with a mix of productivity applications, might be looking for.
  • I like Microsoft’s approach to getting rid of the clutter but I like even more the idea of using AI to see what features a specific user might be needed in a particular context.
  • This is what I think Apple got right with the Touchbar on the MacBook Pro, a tool that for me came alive when Office rolled out its support for it.
  • I do wonder if Microsoft will be able to nudge his more pragmatic users forward through AI by serving up suggestions that will help the adoption of over services such as OneDrive, Cortana, and Teams. I hope Microsoft will at least try to do so as the return would be considerable.

Google 2018 Diversity Report

Women make up 30.9% of our global workforce, and men 69.1%2. In terms of race and ethnicity (U.S. data only) 2.5% of Google’s workforce is Black; 3.6% is Hispanic/Latinx3; 36.3% is Asian; 4.2% is multiracial (two or more races); 0.3% are Native American4, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander; and, 53.1% is White. Representation for women, Black, and Latinx Googlers is similar to last year, increasing by only 0.1 percentage point (ppt) for each of these groups.

In the U.S. in 2017, leadership hires were 5.4% Black, and Black representation in leadership increased from 1.5% in 2017 to 2% in 2018. Latinx representation in Google’s leadership is 1.8% (up from 1.7%).

Via Google  

  • While Google highlights the improvements year over year, it is hard to see past the sad picture this report still paints. And how well it fits into the rest of tech.
  • You just need to consider those leadership numbers in a half full kind of way to see how much work remains to be done: the company’s higher ranks are still 74.5% male and 66.9% white.
  • Google said to have set a goal to reach or exceed the available talent pool. A statement that really says very little as to what Google wants to achieve. The current talent pool when it comes to minorities and colleges, for instance, is quite limited. When it comes to minorities talent is plentiful but often you must look outside the usual sources. Community colleges, for instance, are a great source of talent but very few tech recruiters would look there. The same can be said about geographical provenience as talent is often looked for within Silicon Valley and the big cities first. Referral programs are also a technique that does not favor minorities as, put simply, white refers white and hires white.
  • It is interesting to me that rather than highlight new hiring strategies Google focused on talking about how they are investing in improving diversity of early pipeline talent. This year, for instance, their internship program welcomes the largest cohort of Black, Latinx and/or women: 49%. In 2017, they launched a computer science residency program that attracts top software engineering students from the Black community directly to Google. Finally, Google also offers a three-week computer science course for graduating high school seniors through Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute.
  • Google has also provided attrition rates for the first time. These are numbers that show the people leaving the company. The numbers are showing that Google is doing well at retaining women as they are leaving the company less than men. The story is a little different for Black and Latinx who had the highest attrition rate in 2017.
  • Attrition numbers best show how tech does not only have a problem of diversity but inclusion as well. It is hard to feel included in a company where so few people look like you especially across management.
  • I always thought the hiring of Danielle Brown from Intel as Google Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer was a curious one. If you’d ask me to point at a company in tech that is doing good when it comes to diversity and inclusion Intel would certainly not be top of mind. That said, I hope Brown can do more at Google than she did at Intel.

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Carolina Milanesi

Carolina is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc, a market intelligence and strategy consulting firm based in Silicon Valley and recognized as one of the premier sources of quantitative and qualitative research and insights in tech. At Creative Strategies, Carolina focuses on consumer tech across the board. From hardware to services, she analyzes today to help predict and shape tomorrow. In her prior role as Chief of Research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, she drove thought leadership research by marrying her deep understanding of global market dynamics with the wealth of data coming from ComTech’s longitudinal studies on smartphones and tablets. Prior to her ComTech role, Carolina spent 14 years at Gartner, most recently as their Consumer Devices Research VP and Agenda Manager. In this role, she led the forecast and market share teams on smartphones, tablets, and PCs. She spent most of her time advising clients from VC firms, to technology providers, to traditional enterprise clients. Carolina is often quoted as an industry expert and commentator in publications such as The Financial Times, Bloomberg, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She regularly appears on BBC, Bloomberg TV, Fox, NBC News and other networks. Her Twitter account was recently listed in the “101 accounts to follow to make Twitter more interesting” by Wired Italy.

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