The personal technologies that will drive your digital workplace in 2017

author Brett Dixon, February 14, 2017

As the digital workplace continues to come of age, the technologies driving it are increasingly employee-facing to allow users to exploit information, be productive from anywhere and to enable users to actively create their own bespoke and silo busting digital workplace. 2017 will be the year when the employee experience becomes paramount.

Exploiting information

The key technologies that will drive employee creativity, productivity and decision making throughout 2017 are ambient knowledge, embedded analytics and production studios.

  • Ambient knowledge is driven by employees own preferences and activities, and allows companies to harness their often hidden skills and expertise.
  • Embedded analytics allow contextual data analysis using software as a service (SaaS) tools and applications that are invisible to the user, but provide seamless analytics as the basis for structured and repeatable decision making – this is the democratisation of big data
  • Production studio technology helps employees unlock their creativity and move beyond PowerPoint to package and then deliver content in new and interesting ways, by bringing rich media, collaboration and production hubs into the equation.

If your enterprise tools mimic the functionality and ease of use that employees expect from their own devices, you’ll enable and empower your staff to create a digital work grid that promotes collaboration through shared access to contextual and relevant data.

Mobile productivity

As Millennials continue to dominate the workforce, your employees will expect a digital workplace that precisely mimics their private mobile user experience. Siri and Cortana will be the blueprints for virtual private assistants (VPAs) that will be capable of a range of tasks including attending meetings and note taking, that will take their capabilities far beyond simple data retrieval tasks. The VPA will bring AI to the digital workplace, performing personal tasks based on learned behaviour.

Immersive technologies will also dominate the digital workplace with the rise of virtual and augmented reality. The Microsoft HoloLens has already given a tantalising taste of what a virtual office could be and there are a variety of apps taking the concept into virtual reality. This way of working frees users from the tyranny of the desk and screen, enabling greater productivity as even the most complex information can be accessed and navigated with a series of simple and natural gestures. VR and AI will also be widely used for training and conferencing.

With freedom from the conventional desktop, employees will demand increasingly smart work spaces, powered by the Internet of Things. The Burolandschaft, or office landscape, is shifting as workers go mobile, and scheduling software will be of greater importance than ever in creating spaces where engagement and collaboration are optimised.

Increasingly, mobile working will blur the line between work life and private life and that bleed through will increasingly happen with personal IoT and cloud use. Mobile workers will demand the flexibility to bring their own tailor made set of apps to work, rather like a chef brings his personal set of knives. The personal cloud will increase productivity on the move, combining apps and devices that function seamlessly based on personal preference. The challenge for business will be to manage these personal clouds – composed as they often are of apps that may not be sanctioned for business use – and secure the sometimes sensitive data deposited in them.

Busting the silo through empowerment

Three key technologies are driving employee empowerment in the digital workplace:

  • Silo busting collaborative software like social networks
  • Microlearning
  • Process hacking

These technologies are designed to place the tools for digital workplace development directly in the hands of its citizens for an organic, roots up approach that drives engagement and collaboration.

HR have traditionally led silo busting efforts across organisations, and the digital workplace adds a new suite of collaborative tools to encourage ideation and crowdsourcing across silos. Social networks will also have a role to play in encouraging collaboration across the organisation, as the personal software driving the digital workplace offers a commonality of user experience.

Microlearning will become critical to employee acquisition of the competencies and skills that the digital workplace requires. Microlearning will challenge the orthodoxies of workplace training to deliver formal and informal training in digital literacies that is context based and encompasses a range of learning styles and tools, including quizzes, videos or SMS. These easily digestible chunks of learning will increase the relevance and usefulness of the training.

One of the most interesting developments in the digital workplace is the idea of process hacking, which put employees front and centre in developing their own digital workplace solutions to legacy processes. By giving your workforce access to code free programming tools, employees can create and integrate their own shortcuts and apps. It’s an area where IT can lead, providing the tools and light touch support. Empowering your employees in the digital workplace creates an end to end employee experience that will drive engagement, collaboration and creative user generated solutions.