As it stands, hiring for executive and leadership roles places immense pressure on companies and their founders. But it’s not about finding a quick hire to fill the role and ease the pressure. Now more than ever, executives who help steer the ship, collaborate successfully with partners, stakeholders, and staff, and can take a handle on things when business shifts are in high demand.
Here are the qualities every CEO will look for when hiring for their executive team this year:
They are multigenerational
If the previous year has taught us anything, it’s certainly the value of clear and concise communication. As some leaders were conducting business from vacation homes and golf courses, much to the frustration of employees, it’s been revealing for many organizations how little their leadership can effectively rally the troops.
A leader who embraces technology, communicates strongly, and understands the value of multigenerational employees will continue to be in high demand in 2021. These exceptional leaders seek out opportunities to better communicate and will analyze how employees contribute to the new blended model of leadership. They understand and will make sure everyone is on board, from Millennials to the old guard.
While navigating interviews, take note of candidates who mention nourishing and utilizing people’s strengths, those who have introduced new automations to make things easier for their team, or those who lead with empathy especially in a pandemic. Ultimately, you’re seeking out someone who not only demonstrates “teamwork” but lives and breathes that ethos to lead your business to the next level.
They have a specialty
Gone are the days of the traditionalist. Enter the specialist. In a post-pandemic world, executives who consistently deliver on customer success, optimize team performance and enhance culture, or improve business efficiencies will be in high demand as much of the world will be in a hybrid or remote-work model. These leaders will possess a deep understanding of your company vision and the sustainability of your business, a key ingredient in future-proofing your business.
How do you know you’ve found the leader who can take your business to the next level? The candidate’s work will speak for itself. Have they been successful in navigating pandemic decisions (large or small)? Have them speak candidly about the impact they’ve had, success, or challenges throughout the pandemic.
Just as exceptional as their communication skills are, leaders who thrive off data and make analytical decisions will be at the forefront of leadership teams this year. An executive who understands metrics and data makes decisions based on facts, not instinct. This data-first mind is particularly useful for proactive planning and especially important when blended office models, a flexible arrangement of both in-office and remote work, will become increasingly popular in 2021.
Just as the pandemic required businesses to pivot and make quick business decisions for precautionary COVID-19 measures, now business leaders are making reopening plans and moves based on their employees’ and customers’ needs. Potential leaders who can identify or provide examples where they have relied on data to plan, communicate, and execute strategies, whether team or consumer-based, should be high on your list of candidates. During the interview, listen closely throughout for insight as to how they formed conclusions or made bigger decisions pre- or post-pandemic.
Microsoft’s Cortana is a cloud-based personal assistant that operates outside the realm of standard voice-enabled AI.
Cortana doesn’t just understand voice commands and carry out tasks but is integrated for use across Microsoft’s 365 suite of products and all Windows 10 operating systems, version 2004 and later.
If you or your team rely on Microsoft 365, here’s everything you need to know about how to harness Cortana to improve your productivity.
What is Cortana?
First launched in 2014, this virtual voice assistant’s name and concept were inspired by a 26th-century artificial intelligence character of the same name from the popular “Halo” video game series. Designed to integrate with the Windows Phone – and by 2015, Windows 10 PCs – Cortana’s capabilities included organizing and managing your daily meetings, reminders, and more alongside traditional web searches – all through typed text or voice prompts.
Everything you turned to Cortana for was then stored in a virtual “Notebook,” an approach to the virtual assistant that was based on the work of actual human assistants who spoke to Microsoft during Cortana’s development process, according to a 2014 Verge report.
From there, Cortana’s presence grew as Microsoft integrated it everywhere from Xbox and smart speakers to Apple and Android apps and third-party skills for Fitbit, Spotify, and more. But in the years since its launch, Microsoft users’ needs have changed, and the company’s vision for its digital assistant has evolved along with it.
What can Cortana do?
Nowadays, Cortana’s focus puts it in a different space than other voice-enabled AI assistants. Cortana primarily connects Microsoft 365 users to every element of their product suites and helps you track, organize, and manage your daily work.
Still available on Windows 10 and client applications like Outlook for iOS and Android, users can now go hands- and worry-free when it comes to managing their personal and professional work.
Included with any Microsoft 365 price plan, you can use Cortana with Windows 10 computers, the Edge browser, and Bing search engine; apps like Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote; email and calendar services Outlook and Exchange; as well as file services like OneDrive and Forms; and finally, social and meeting products like Teams and Yammer.
With Cortana enabled, using the assistant’s waking phrase followed by a command prompt can open apps, fetch the news and weather, add to your lists in Microsoft To-Do, schedule calendar event reminders, locate a file in OneDrive, join meetings, or navigate through presentations in Teams.
But Cortana can go one step further with personalized and interactive tools like Briefings and Play My Emails, both designed to ensure you’re at your most productive each day.
Briefing emails: Set up through Outlook, these briefs are sent within two hours of your workday to help you stay on top of the day ahead of you. Expect notes about outstanding commitments, requests, and follow-ups that you may have forgotten, documents relevant to the day’s meetings so you can review before you attend, and suggested focus times to help you get the most out of your unscheduled hours.
Play My Emails: If you need to go hands-free, this Outlook Cortana feature reads out your emails, so you don’t have to slow down to keep up. Best used with Bluetooth-enabled wireless or wired audio devices like headphones or your car audio, you can use simple voice commands for a touch-free inbox search and response experience.
How does Cortana work?
Regardless of the device, service, or program you’re using Cortana in, the Microsoft voice assistant helps users quickly get information using typed or spoken queries that connect you with other people, your work, and your plans. And with a stricter focus on assisting you with Microsoft products, Cortana can work more like an actual assistant than ever before.
While signed in to your Microsoft account and with the app or service you’re using open, just say “Cortana” or “Hey Cortana.” Cortana then responds to your requests and queries before completing relevant tasks. Simultaneously, it’s collecting certain data about you, such as your searches, calendar, contacts, and location, to help make future experiences with Cortana more personalized.
There are several ways you can prompt Cortana once enabled. These include clicking or tapping the microphone icon in Cortana-integrated products and services, executing the keyboard command “Shift + Windows Key + C,” or by saying “Hey Cortana,” followed by a vocal command. If you haven’t enabled Cortana on your PC, you’ll need to do so.
Cortana command prompts
Once Cortana is activated, you can use it for just about anything. Commands span basic requests about the weather, making calls and sending emails or messages, scheduling meetings, reminders, and alarms, as well as updating your device settings.
But you can also use it for more complex things like math, translations, and definitions; food and travel recommendations; music and entertainment app control; personal health and fitness updates; technical support for connected devices; and fun or factual conversation.
Here are a few common prompts you can try:
“What’s the weather like?”
“Go to / Open [app name / website].”
“What’s [percentage] of [dollar amount]?”
“Where is my package?”
“Find photos from [date / time].”
“Find restaurants near me.”
“What is this song?”
“What was my step count yesterday?”
“Turn on/off Bluetooth.”
“Set an alarm for [date and time].”
“When is my [event name]?”
“Send email to (contact): (message).”
“Show me public transportation directions to [location / address].”
Microsoft beat revenue expectations in its third quarter thanks to soaring demand for its cloud services as people worked from home during the pandemic, the company said in its earnings call on Tuesday.
Here are the six key takeaways from the call:
1. Microsoft’s revenue hit $41.7 billion, beating expectations
Microsoft said revenue hit $41.7 billion, up 19% from the same period last year, beating predictions of $41.03 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Revenue in its “Intelligent Cloud” division was $15.1 billion, up 23%. Azure, the company’s cloud-computing platform, grew revenue by 50%.
“Digital technology will be the foundation for resilience and growth over the next decade,” CEO Satya Nadella said.
2. LinkedIn is doing really well, and we’re spending 80% more hours on it
Revenue for professional networking site LinkedIn increased 25%. The number of conversations on the site rose by 43%, and content being shared rose 29%.
Overall, the hours people spent on LinkedIn was up by 80%.
It now has 756 million members.
Microsoft said it expected continued revenue growth as the advertising and employment markets recover from the pandemic.
3. Teams now has more than 145 million daily active users, nearly double the amount last year
The workplace chat platform Teams has almost doubled its daily active user numbers to more than 145 million since last year.
Nadella said that, even in countries where workers are returning to the office, such as Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea, Teams was still growing.
4. Xbox Series X and S consoles are in high demand, and Minecraft is still adding users
There was “record engagement” in its gaming segment, with revenue up 50%, CFO Amy Hood said.
Xbox hardware revenue climbed 232% thanks to the release of new consoles. Demand for the Series X and S consoles “significantly exceeded” supply, Hood said.
Xbox content and services revenue was up 34%, fueled by Minecraft’s popularity. The sandbox video game has more than 140 million monthly active users, up 30% since last year. Players have spent more than $350 million on add-ons since 2017.
5. Dividends and share buybacks increased from last year
Microsoft returned $10 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases, up 1% compared to the same time last year.
6. The US military is using Microsoft’s AI services
Azure’s artificial intelligence platforms are being used by big public and private organizations, including AT&T, Duolingo, and the US Army.
“We’ve seen dramatic advances in research and development by OpenAI whose models are trained and hosted exclusively on Azure, ” Nadella said.
The US Army will use HoloLens mixed-reality headsets, integrating with Microsoft’s cloud services. The headsets will give troops “next-generation night vision,” the US Army said in a press announcement last month.