Now, an AI that can take on the HR’s job


Marcel, designed with people-first benefits and experiences in mind, will keep Publicis Groupe’s 80,000 employees connected to one.

In every team or workplace, there are a few people who are overloaded with work while at the same time there are others who are free roamers.

Even if the human eye fails to identify the hard worker, AI will not. It can and will be able to make recommendations that take the person’s workload and availability into account alongside behavioural patterns, needs, desires and experience. It can also identify which employee’s skill sets are required for an ongoing project and also tell the employee to pitch in.

That is not all. There is much more to the AI system, Marcel, launched by the Publicis Groupe in association with Microsoft. This AI platform will be used by the advertising group for and by its 80,000 employees across the world–all connected to one.

Marcel, named after Publicis Groupe founder, Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, is the first AI-based enterprise platform designed with people-first benefits and experiences in mind.

It is built on the belief that an augmented workforce leads to higher engagement, which in turn, leads to better work and results for clients. Marcel is built on a foundation of the four key pillars—knowledge, connectivity, opportunity and productivity.

The power of knowledge serves to educate and inspire the people through creative work and by illuminating business, industry, account and cultural intelligence.

The power of connectivity finds, matches, casts and suggests the most appropriate people within the Groupe to connect, depending on people’s needs, interests, behavioural patterns and desires.

The power of opportunity provides a multitude of ways in which each person can contribute, participate and flex their skills and passions on other projects beyond their day-to-day accounts.

The power of productivity turns the often tedious and highly-manual processes, such as timesheets and expenses into seamless and incredibly easy tasks. Fuelled by a live organisational data graph and
Microsoft AI technology, Marcel will deliver a fluid, intuitive, intelligent and rich experience for the 80,000-strong workforce.

Arthur Sadoun, chairman & CEO, Publicis Groupe, says, “In June last year, we announced the creation of Marcel, to connect our 80,000 employees and completely reinvent the way we work, for ourselves and our clients. Since then, our industry has gone through unprecedented challenges, demonstrating that incremental change is not a solution. The need for reinvention is stronger than ever.”

“Marcel will break the barriers between talent and opportunity and break silos through the power of one,” he adds.

Marcel itself was created with the expertise and inputs from a diverse team of more than 100 people across the Company, including Publicis.Sapient, Publicis Communications, Publicis Media, Re:Sources, IT, legal, data privacy, security, procurement, and human resources. It was a truly transformative initiative in support of the Power of One.

Publicis.Sapient developed the Marcel user design and experience to build the Marcel platform, Publicis Communications’ BBH (Bartle Bogle Hegarty) created Marcel’s brand identity, while Microsoft AI is being used to power the knowledge graph behind Marcel, and the conversational AI experience that is bringing this knowledge to every employee.

Marcel stores around five billion data files. This Knowledge Graph connects both structured and unstructured data that exists across the organisation and then maps relationships within it. This centralised, integrated source of our own data will power Marcel as well as other enterprise initiatives. The Groupe will use Microsoft’s sophisticated AI tools to process, filter, connect and organise the data to make it useful for its people.

Marcel also takes care of data security and privacy. Employees are not required to use Marcel and all of the interaction and data employees provide is fully opt-in.

“Our data privacy and security offices have been involved in building Marcel from the beginning, thereby ensuring compliance with important privacy requirements including GDPR,” the official communique states.

As of now, Marcel has been launched as a mobile application for both android and iOS. Future versions will include a desktop version or other interfaces as the need arises.

For the employees, Marcel will do more than just respond to requests. It will also proactively present relevant knowledge, connections and opportunities. Each workday, Marcel will serve six prompts tailored to the person’s role and interests in the form of a daily digest. Marcel will refine what it presents each day based on an employee’s interaction and feedback.

Marcel is tested by a team of 100 alpha users. In June, the Groupe will release a beta version to 1,000 people selected as an exact Publicis Groupe representation, by agency, role and geography. Publicis Groupe will begin rolling out Marcel to the 80,000-person workforce in January 2019.


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