person on an indoor hammock with a dog
Gartner says businesses are using technologies from the consumer space in the digital workplace. PHOTO: Drew Coffman

Organizations are embracing technology and techniques from the consumer space to keep employees engaged in the digital workplace.

Gartner digital workplace analyst Matt Cain explained these trends in a webinar this week, “Top 10 Emerging Digital Workplace Technologies to Transform Your Business.”

Emerging Workplace Tech, Trends

Cain said Gartner found the top trends and tools in the digital workplace — which are likely to be mainstream in the and three to six years old — significantly affect employee engagement and agility. 

Generally speaking, they align with needed business skills, have roots in the consumer space, are likely to be embedded in diverse applications and have elements of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML).

These emerging areas of digital technologies include:

Ambient Knowledge

Cain said this includes algorithms that proactively deliver customized information based on an employee’s implicit and explicit activities. 

“Basically it’s a recommendation engine,” he added. 

People expect great delivery and Amazon-like experiences in their consumer lives.

So, Cain theorized, “Why don’t we have this in business? We are on the cusp.”

Platforms are beginning to capture signals on what employees are doing. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technologies leverage a cloud-scale model with machine learning to deduce what people do in their business environments.

“We’re trying to solve two of biggest business problems: you don’t know who in the organization has the expertise and you don’t know what other information has been created that can help us,” Cain said.

Ready Analytics

Ready analytics refers to contextual data analysis tools that are easy to use and sometimes invisible. 

People use dashboards and analytics in their consumer life and that’s coming into the workplace more for all to use. 

It’s no longer just the business intelligence folks, Cain said, but the technology is becoming more available for “mere mortals.”

Organizations use SaaS applications to embed analytics proactively. Creating analytics for the workforce is a “significant goal” for organizations.

Production Studio

Cain said this includes a variety of tools to enable employees to package and deliver content in a new and novel ways. 

Consumers are getting creative through apps like FacebookSnapchat and YouTube and find alternatives to PowerPoint sharing content. Cain called this getting out of “PowerPoint jail.” 

“This is a great opportunity for IT to get together a production studio and utilize audio and video technology,” Cain said.

Immersive Technologies

These include technologies that blur the line between the physical world and digital or simulated word, creating a sense of immersion. 

It’s the bundling of augmented reality and virtual reality technologies and blurring the line between the physical and digital world creating a “sense of immersion.”

Gartner sees many cases of organizations starting to “play around with this and looking for very specific use cases.”

Personal Cloud 

Cain reported that 50 to 80 percent of employees are using their own apps in the workplace for tasks including collaboration and analytics.

“There is no reason to think knowledge workers won’t travel around with their own cloud,” Cain said. “For IT, this sends shivers down their spine. These are perfectly legitimate concerns.”

But there's no stopping workers from bringing their personal apps into the workplace, which has led to “tremendous transformation." He cited Enterprise File Sync and Sharing (EFSS) technologies that started as photo-sharing apps and led to enterprises leveraging them for content.

“We think personal cloud and personal IoT come together to boost agility and engagement for most IT departments,” Cain said. “Over time the IT department has come to some grips with this idea of the personal cloud.”

Silo Busters

These include tools that “transcend organizational boundaries to generate ideas, solve problems and assemble teams from a broad population of employees.”

Companies are using innovation platforms that encourage idea sharing and group people together in organizations that wouldn’t normally. Cain called this “new approaches to silo busting” such as “ideas jams and hackathons.”

HR departments are bringing good vibes to organizations, using technology to challenge employees to promote fitness through fun competitions. This brings together employees.

“Employees are siloed within their own individual structures,” Cain said. Organizations that go beyond those reporting structures and connect workers promote innovation and help drive customer centricity, which boosts time to market and is great for problem resolution, he added.

“We’ve tried lots of tools over time," Cain said, "and haven’t necessarily succeeded."

(Interested in learning more about the challenges and opportunities impacting the new digital worlds where we work? Join us for Digital Workplace Experience June 19 to 21 at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel in Chicago. Simpler Media Group, Inc., publisher of CMSWire and creator of DX Summit, and boutique consultancy Digital Workplace Group (DWG) are working as strategic partners to present #DWEXP17.)