7 Digital Workplace Trends for 2019
The Digital Workplace is probably the most hotly discussed topic in the enterprise right now, and many companies are eager to switch up their old Intranets with something modern that not only increases employee engagement, but also adds workplace flexibility and - importantly - translates into value added to their bottom line. If you're asking yourself what technology will be a safe bet to place your trust in for next year, then here are our 7 predictions about the digital workplace trends that will dominate 2019.
1. Microsoft Teams will swallow the market
Adaptive Cards, Microsoft’s all-product-spanning standardized card layout, has been a long time coming on Teams. Seriously, a long time. It has recently been added to the iOS version of Teams, suggesting it may very soon come out of the developer preview.
And once it does, expect a slew of bots and applications to rapidly adopt it and dramatically improve the productivity of MS Teams. Digital Assistant itself has been available as a developer preview inside Microsoft Teams for months and you can preview it now or sign up to the newsletter and be the first to know when we roll out live.
2. Alexa for Business will launch a big offensive
The smart office is a somewhat nebulous concept still. At the minute it only really means having a good Intranet, yet in the future it will become the all intelligent digital assistant that talks, walks and dances to the beat of your drum.
Somewhere along the way Amazon hopes to be a stepping stone by bringing Alexa to the office. And the chances are pretty good that they will be successful in disrupting the office. They have the necessary enterprise clout, have the biggest distribution network, hardware that’s suitable for office environments... What began with books, expanded into brick and mortar (with Amazon Go) and now the smart home (with Alexa), may soon make a big entrance into the smart office.
3. Companies will adopt an “API-first” mindset
At the core of smart assistants, modern portals and digital workplaces, there is the need for a better and more holistic way to connect the user to relevant data. This has proven to be a fundamental challenge to the success of digital transformation projects, moreso than many organizations thought.
In the same breath it emerges that an improved, more standardized way to handle and exchange data is necessary. This standard exists: It’s called RESTful API. But many legacy applications don't have one of those, or those that do are haphazard, sloppily documented or generally buggy.
The catch 22: because organizations never asked for APIs, vendors didn’t spend resources on developing one - and hence we're now in the position of having poor or no API support for a majority of business applications. But this is all about to change in 2019; data is the new oil, APIs are the new USB, and building API support will be a priority issue for businesses trying to get their digital workplaces off the ground with data that’s useful, real-time and comprehensive.
4. The next-generation of Intranets will emerge
No-one really likes their Intranet, and no vendor has really addressed a holistic new approach to creating the first modern Intranet. But this may change rapidly next year, with Intranet software that ditches its age-old CMS based architecture in lieu of an API consuming approach, which means all of the data that goes through the Intranet originated elsewhere in the organization – be it in the cloud or on-premises.
Thus, permitted the API first approach sticks, Intranets will soon not compete on features but on the number of ways they can leverage existing data with smarter, more flexible and more personal ways to get information to a user – be it at the office, or at home or even in your car.
5. Everything will be AI and ML
Just like Social, Web 2.0 and Mobile-first had their day, artificial intelligence and machine learning will have theirs. Expect everything to be 'AI-this' and 'ML-that' in 2019 - marketers can’t help but jump on the buzzword wave everybody seems to be riding at the moment.
If genuine AI applications are critical to your project’s success, be wary - not everything labelled as AI is what it seems! Either be very careful when selecting a vendor and test all their AI claims, or alternatively, learn to tune out the repackaging of same old, same old software and take it for what it is - a smoke scr... I mean window dressing.
6. USA will lead the Digital Workplace culture
Europe is currently finding itself at a pivotal point in their understanding of privacy and intellectual property. The EU is grappling with GDPR and slapping Microsoft with a hefty fine because of it, wants to tax digital businesses and is even considering creating a “link tax” which has prompted Google to consider a shutdown of their News section.
Meanwhile, many promising advances in the Digital Workplace work on the back of AI and Machine Learning software that can find patterns in the hundreds of digital bread crumbs we leave behind on the web and inside our business applications. Gartner calls this a “digital twin”, and it is essential for AI to make better recommendations, highlight notable data or even filter out the irrelevant.
Such initiatives need a somewhat liberal approach to privacy to enable experimentation. With Europe in uproar over the very same, we expect that the success headlines about Digital Workplace technology will not be coming from Europe - but the USA.
7. Bots of bots to address crowded enterprise chat
With Gartner predicting that chatbots will command an increasingly larger amount of the overall IT budget, we expect that the number of available chatbots as well as adoption rates in the enterprise will increase dramatically next year. But this poses a new question: if you have, say, 25 bots, how will you know which bot does what?
Enter the concierge bot. It’s a bot that sits one level above other bots and recommends a suitable bot to do your task for you and then either hands you off to that bot or may even query another bot on your behalf in the background. In the same way a home screen for apps helps you find the right app for the job, there will be another layer on top of enterprise chat bots that helps employees decide which bot is the best to answer their query.
So there you go - 7 bold but not at all implausible predictions for the next year. Want to be part of the trends above? Fill out the form below and see if Digital Assistant’s AI capabilities can help you bring your Digital Workplace into the future.