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The digital workplace is a work in progress — a lot has been accomplished, but there's still a lot more to do. Some predict the digital workplace will be as radically different this time next year as it was when compared with the same time last year. 

When asked about 2019, Nicole Alvino co-founder and chief strategy officer at SocialChorus, said a perfect storm of macro and micro trends are leading to widespread digital transformation. As the economy tightens, she continued, teams are forced to be more effective with fewer resources and are increasingly challenged to prove their value and impact. This has led to the explosion of buzz around emerging technologies in areas such as mobile, bots, AI and machine learning that will continue throughout 2019.

Indeed, these technologies started to play a prominent role in the digital workplace over the past 12 months. Other technologies, that have been around for longer, are now really starting to gain traction in the workplace. James Parnwell from The OnlineCo pointed out, for example, that pay to play is more important now than it was at the beginning of the year.

The algorithms of the major social media platforms, he said, are heading back to the original idea of social media platforms being social — what a great idea! Because of this, the platforms are doing everything they can to ensure users are seeing more updates from their friends and from the people they are specifically interested in. This makes it harder for businesses to get their content into these feeds.

People will be spending less time commuting and traveling but more time working remotely, causing business leaders to find other ways to share corporate info and increase workplace collaboration, according to Jen Grogono, CEO of enterprise media company uStudio. With the rise of telecommunications, the need for employees to hit the road has subsided, meaning that business leaders will need to rethink their communications strategies. They will also need to consider how to encourage workplace collaboration when everyone is in a different place.

In sum, the proliferation of technology solutions has overwhelmed companies — or more specifically, their employees. All of this paints a very broad picture of the digital workplace over the year, CMSWire dug a little deeper and found that the following subjects really got people excited. 

10. Slack–Atlassian Deal Marks a Turning Point in Team Collaboration Market

Slack and Atlassian announced a deal in July that saw the latter's collaboration products discontinued in favor of Slack's offering. The enterprise collaboration market is very much in transition, with lines between functions blurring.

Under the terms of the agreement, enterprise software provider Atlassian has sold the intellectual property for its team collaboration tools, HipChat and Stride, to Slack. Atlassian will discontinue both products and encourage customers to migrate to Slack. As part of the deal, Atlassian has purchased a "small" equity in Slack, and the companies have committed to developing closer integrations between their products. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

9. How to Build a Sustainable Agile Culture

Agile efforts face a number of common challenges which, if disregarded, can derail your efforts and reduce any intended benefits.

Organizations can improve their agile efforts by focusing on five common challenges:

  1. Support and protect agile values with strong leadership.
  2. Help teams and stakeholders to self-organize.
  3. Manage your portfolio with outcomes, not outputs.
  4. Systematically remove sources of waste and delay agile teams face.
  5. Measure and improve value delivered with frequent feedback.

8. How Slack With G-Suite Matches Up Against Microsoft Teams

In 2016, Google announced it was offering a new integration between G Suite and Slack. The integration allowed users to bring files from Drive directly into a Slack conversation. It also meant they could create new Docs, Sheets and Slide files right from Slack. Slack, according to Google, would harness the heavy document collaboration capabilities of G Suite, while enabling real-time communication between teams. Together they provided a viable alternative to Microsoft Teams, or any other enterprise collaboration suite on the market.

Since then, a number of third-party vendors have developed ways of facilitating the integration between G Suite and Slack as a whole, or between Slack and individual apps in the G Suite.

7. Why a Digital Mindset Is Key to Digital Transformation

Digital transformation refers to the transformation of business and organizational activities, processes, competencies and models to enable organizations to use and exploit digital technologies to improve business processes and outcomes. But when talking about it, business leaders often resort to discussing IT infrastructure, technologies and applications. That is only part of the equation. While infrastructure and technology are clearly important considerations, digital transformation is as much about the people and changing the way they approach business problems and where they look to find solutions.

6. Ways Artificial Intelligence Will Impact the Future Workplace

Most employers do not feel threatened by artificial intelligence (AI). According to recent data from work benefits giant MetLife, 56 percent of employers demonstrated a positive view of automation technologies like AI, analytics and even robots. In contrast, only 20 percent of the decision-makers surveyed, said they were pessimistic about the impact of AI and its impact on their role in the enterprises. The aforementioned data came from the MetLife 16th Annual US Employee Benefit Trends Study.

Employees reported optimism about the future of automation. Of the employees surveyed for the study, 49 percent said they had a positive view of automation, while 24 percent had a negative view.

5. Why Artificial Intelligence Will Create More Jobs Than it Destroys

According to Gartner's 2017 hype cycle for emerging technologies, AI will automate 1.8 million people out of work by 2020. While the job losses generate the most interest and headlines, the losses only tell part of the story. Dig a little bit deeper into the hype cycle, and you'll see Gartner also predicts AI will create 2.3 million jobs by 2020, driving a net gain of 500,000 new jobs. The question is no longer whether AI will fundamentally change the workplace. The true question is how companies can successfully use AI in ways that enables, not replaces, the human workforce, helping to make humans faster, more efficient and more productive.

4. Slack or Microsoft Teams? Well, That Depends ...

Microsoft's recent announcement about a free version of Teams set the industry abuzz in a new round of Slack vs. Microsoft Teams rivalry. Following the announcement, a spate of industry reviews appeared, which either focused on a features comparison between the two products or an appraisal of the varying breadth and depth of integration with third-party apps.

The uniformity of the industry response is surprising, considering it completely missed the point. What we are seeing is the latest iteration of a continuous pattern of ongoing competition between Microsoft and, well ... everybody else vying for business productivity dollars in the enterprise market.

3. Setting Expectations on Excel's Addition of AI

At Ignite, Microsoft announced that it is adding four new AI features to its ubiquitous and beloved Excel spreadsheet, continuing a development trend that it first announced at the beginning of the year. The four features are:

  1. Ideas: An AI-powered insights service that taps into Office.
  2. New data types: Specifically stocks and geography.
  3. Insert Data from Picture: A feature that allows a user to take a picture of a hand-drawn or printed data table with an Android device and convert that analog information into an Excel spreadsheet.
  4. Dynamic arrays: A feature that allows any formula that returns an array of values to "spill" into neighboring unoccupied cells.

Some of these were announced previously, such as the new data types. Other features are new to users, such as the Insert Data from Picture feature.

2. How to Build a Sustainable Agile Culture

Agile efforts face a number of common challenges which, if disregarded, can derail your efforts and reduce any intended benefits. Organizations can improve their agile efforts by focusing on five common challenges:

  1. Support and protect agile values with strong leadership.
  2. Help teams and stakeholders to self-organize.
  3. Manage your portfolio with outcomes, not outputs.
  4. Systematically remove sources of waste and delay agile teams face.
  5. Measure and improve value delivered with frequent feedback.

1. 7 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Reinventing Human Resources

Organizational leaders and human resources executives have faith that merging AI into HR functions like onboarding and administration of benefits, can and will improve the overall employee experience. According to IBM’s 2017 survey of 6,000 executives, “Extending expertise: How cognitive computing is transforming HR and the employee experience,” 66 percent of CEOs believe cognitive computing can drive significant value in HR. Half of HR executives back that up, saying they recognize that cognitive computing has the power to transform key dimensions of HR.