With 2018 coming to an end, here are five up and coming trends for Intranet software that we will see major development on in 2019. We're starting with the tame (and kinda overdue) and work our way up to the unbelievable, ground-breaking, nay, ground-shattering developments that will put the digital in digital workplace.
1. Unified data streams
It's an old, familiar problem: Most intranets are silos and are used alongside other closed-off applications for CRM, ERP, Finance, Analytics, etc. An IDC survey has found that 1 in 10 knowledge workers are using over 11 separate applications on a daily basis.
But this madness will likely start to taper off next year with APIs enjoying widespread adoption and improvements across all cloud-based business applications. Better APIs are laying the groundwork for making enterprise data more accessible to build better experiences with them, be it when an organization makes its own Line-of-business app or integrates lots and lots services into smart notifications streams, like Digital Assistant offers.
2. Rethinking business processes
Even the simplest of tasks, like sending out an invoice, require some users to traverse multiple applications and windows to get bits and pieces of information across from email, to CRM, to accounting software, to PDF, back to email. On a desktop this form of multitasking may be bearable, but it seriously hampers any organization's ability to offer comprehensive business apps that work on mobile devices.
On mobile of course switching windows just isn't possible, which moves major developments to adopt an end-to-end approach for their business processes. Instead of having one big CRM and one big Accounting software, on mobile there could be one small Invoicing app that's pulling data from both.
This thinking has proven effective at allowing employees to work for the business even when they are away from their desks and we are sure to see more in this direction next year, given the increasing API coverage mentioned above.
3. AI is coming
Henry Ford is credited with saying "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses". So it can be hard to see with our 2017 mindset how exactly AI will tangibly improve our working lives.
But the facts are these:
- There is a huge amount of repetitive, routine tasks that we all have to do on a daily basis which would lend themselves to become automated so we have more time to do things we're actually enjoying.
- And the human mind is often blissfully unaware of the sheer amount of data all our business applications are collecting. With that we often don't see shifting trends, unlikely patterns or alarming changes early enough for us to proactively react to them.
Both these things are prime candidates for self-learning AI to enhance our work. It can aggregate data, highlight interesting data points, notify us of data that seems out of bounds, suggest what data we should be informed about. And all this in a highly tailored way by following a user's role, location, search history, project membership, or even time of day. There will be a great wave of AI-based suggestions for users coming to Intranets in 2018 that allow them to take their mind off routine tasks and react to events a lot sooner than ever before and see ambient data that is placed in context to other data within the organization, all based on smarter suggestions by an AI.
The Intranet of the future won't feel like an Intranet anymore. There won't be a singular, central portal page anymore where everyone logs in the morning. If you work in Sales, your Intranet comes to your Sales applications, in HR, it is integrated into HR software, etc.
That means an Intranet of the future will have an experience that can be ported to other websites in the organization. It's what responsive design is to mobile-first apps, but this is portable design for data-first apps. With that in mind it will be less and less important to divvy up an Intranet portal to serve different user roles, but instead the Intranet will come to the user, who can keep using the same software they are used to, without seeing the Intranet as another place where they have to log in occasionally.
This experience will predominantly happen on the back of HTML5 which makes containerized Web Components reusable and easy to integrate into any website without compromising loading times or security.
5. Smart home integration
Why can't we ask Siri to start our next online meeting, or why can't Alexa answer us much Leave allowance we have left? It's because these Assistants don't have the kind of access to your data.
But (and it's a big but): These Assistants are slowly morphing into platforms, especially Amazon Alexa and Google Home. They offer "skills" that a user can download from a "Skills store". Basically, this means the user can enable new interfaces that they can verbally control. All the Assistant hardware has to do is forward the request to a 3rd party, and read out the result. For example, soon you might say
Hey Alexa, ask the Intranet, what's for lunch today.
Okay Google, do I have any workflow requests?
These skills are enabled again by a wider availability of APIs within business apps and will, to an extent, eliminate the time-consuming effort to search for certain pieces of information across emails, Intranets, content management systems, etc.
adenin itself is currently working on an Amazon Alexa skill that speaks to the AI search field in Digital Assistant. Stay tuned for updates and we'll let you know once we have a sneak peek.