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Using machine learning to make work ‘suck a little less’

(CNN) — Technology is a blessing and a curse for the modern office worker. Lightning-fast computers make the impossible possible. But constant distraction and friction slows work down.Workers are bombarded with a steady stream of emails, instant messages and requirements to log onto different systems to do such basic tasks as requesting vacation and filing expense reports.

Citrix Systems, which makes workplace platforms used by about 100 million people every day, is trying to improve the office technology experience by bringing a Facebook-like newsfeed to your work computer and smartphone.

Citrix told CNN Business it will soon launch an Intelligent Digital Workspace that uses machine learning to aggregate information from dozens of outside apps into a single place. The product is getting rolled out as an update to the existing Citrix Workspace.

“There are just too many applications. We’re constantly getting notifications that are interrupting our work.” said Alysia Eve, senior manager of product marketing at Citrix. “We’ve designed a space that is aimed at cutting out that digital noise and those distractions — and make work suck a little less,””

By integrating with dozens of Microsoft, SAP, Google and Salesforce apps, the workspace will allow workers to complete such routine tasks as approving contracts, registering for training courses and submitting purchase orders directly from their newsfeeds. They won’t need to log onto (or even and remember the passwords to) those outside systems.

Citrix said its machine learning technology will help automate certain tasks and anticipate others. The newsfeed will include meeting reminders, pop-up notifications about new hires and information about vacation requests. Managers can dive into expense reports and accept or reject them without leaving the system.

“The newsfeed is how we are used to consuming information in our personal lives,” Eve said.

The company plans to begin releasing the new version of Workspace this month to some of its hundreds of thousands of medium and large enterprise customers. Most of those companies won’t get charged more for the changes.

“Our strategy is to bring together the right information and unlock human potential by removing the complexity that comes with technology,” Citrix CEO David Henshall told CNN Business in an exclusive interview.

Of course, there is no guarantee the new digital workspace will be a hit with customers and worth the investment by Citrix. It also will face competition from other systems in this space, such as those sold by Amazon, Salesforce and VMware, although Citrix said its product stands out because of the ability to deeply integrate dozens of apps and link them all in one place.

Henshall said he will measure success by how many new active users the company draws. The Intelligent Digital Workspace is a key part of Citrix’s pivot towards a subscription-based business model that focuses more on recurring revenue.

Subscription revenue soared 43% during the third quarter, although total revenue was flat.

Despite surveys showing that CEO confidence is down, Citrix said Corporate America continues to invest heavily in technology.

“There is a lot of money being spent still, it’s just being allocated to the most strategic products,” Henshall said. “We’re fortunate enough that we’re aligned with areas like security and mobility that are high on the priority list.”

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