The workplace of 2016 is "smart".

Smartphones with tracking features, smart apps automating relationships and bots that can smartly engage in communication on behalf of people, are all part of every day life.

But, can you imagine a bot that has the capability to automatically answer an email request for materials, or data a colleague needs?

Is it too far fetched?

Does it sound like sci-fi?

Well, no. In fact, it’s possible already. And, you can do something similar on your own, without a bot.

I have an auto-agent in my inbox that automatically provides information on certain topics I know internal customers frequently ask me; a combination of keywords and a pre-formatted email works its magic, calming down the pressure and allowing me to concentrate on priorities. 

In a few months, a bot will work much more effectively than than my inbox agent. It will understand "who" the customer is and, incredibly, if the request is an initial enquiry or part of previous conversation.

The bot will It will be able to tell if I need to schedule a call to answer the email, or if the email needs to be highlighted in my inbox and prioritised. It could even allocate adequate time in my calendar to ensure I take care of it.

So, if bots can revolutionise the way we work, you might be surprised to learn that there are still some employers who use in-tray exercises to assess their candidates. Surely bots have made this method redundant? Well, it might not be quite the end for in-tray exercises just yet. Although we may need to rethink the way we use them.

You see, there is still something valuable that our dear bot will not be able to deliver (for the moment) and something that your potential employee will: the ability to ignite the informal network.

In our work environment, more and more smart solutions come from individuals. Most of the time, they require collaboration and knowledge from multiple sources, the ability to quickly tackle insights and put them together in a way that makes a "collective intelligence" behind the decision - instead of the reaction of a single person.

That’s what’s known as, the "Ping Quotient".

The Ping Quotient is defined by the IFTF (Institute For The Future) in 2007 as "the responsiveness to other people’s requests for engagement, the propensity and ability to reach out to others in a network" and is a combination of social intelligence, engagement and collaboration proactiveness.

Individuals who work as part of a larger organisation could be viewed as nodes in a network. When they get hit by information, they light up. How many lights can your people ignite? And, more importantly, are they the right kind of light?

In other words, are your people engaging with proper players in your field? Those with game-changing insights? Or, are they just creating noise by tackling too many individuals? Ask yourself: Are your people bringing back solutions, inspired by insights and tacit knowledge, generated by their network? Hopefully, your answer will be ‘yes’. 

Years ago, my boss and I received the same email with the pretty intriguing issue of laboour relations. In the few minutes between that coming in our inbox and the corridor chat, we had to brainstorm how to solve the case.  

The two of us approached the situation in very different ways.

He reached out and engaged with the Legal Department, via email, to ask their opinion. By the time we had our corridor chat, he had already involved four different people, had no solution yet and was waiting for somebody to react and help.

In the same amount of time, I reached out to a former classmate at university, who was handling HR in another corporation. I had also sent a chat message to the facilitator of a workshop I had met few months before at a conference.

While standing in the corridor with my boss and illustrating the solution my classmate had given to a similar case, an SMS from the facilitator came through. He confirmed to me that the solution I had proposed was a good idea, suitable and with only minor risks.

My contribution was not coming from my IQ or from mastery, but the Ping Quotient, which was making the game on my behalf.

The final takeaway is this: We should consider analytical skills, as well as competence and mastery. And a great PQ could help you achieve this, bringing you so much more, much faster and with higher value.

So I’ll leave you with the question: Are you ready to assess Ping Quotient?

Europe Learning & Development Leader at Procter and Gamble

With fifteen years' worth of experience at P&G, Francesco is a self-proclaimed HR Guy, 100% focussed on the future of work, the future of learning (and the future of mankind!) 

In his current role as the Learning and Development Lead at P&G, Francesco is responsible for implementing training plans, designing and analysing assessment techniques and developing a culture of learning. He's written several articles on development, leveraging your network and exceeding your expectations.