reading the news

With the rapid introduction of new technologies into the workplace market, it would be reasonable to assume that those that invest are on top of their digital strategies and know exactly what they are doing when it comes to digital transformation.

However, new research from Gartner shows that many organizations, on the contrary, are concerned that they cannot keep up with the pace of change in the digital workplace largely because of what Gartner describes as “misconceived digitalization strategies”.

The research, which was pulled together on the basis of interview with 133 senior executives across diverse industries and geographies shows that the pace of change is the top emerging risk for most executives. Last quarter’s top emerging risk — “accelerating privacy regulation” — has now become an established risk after ranking on four previous emerging risk reports.

However, concerns about the rate of change are also linked to two other major risks including “lagging digitalization” and “digitalization misconceptions,” which Gartner believes may be partly driving the top concern around pace of change and related threats from business model disruption:

  • Lagging Digitalization: Many were concerned that digital budgets were inadequate, that a high number of digitalization projects were failing, and there are concerns about scaling projects and project delays.
  • Digitalization Misconceptions: With two out of three digital transformation projects failing to achieve their stated objectives, an increasing focus on digital projects can reveal enterprise weaknesses.

For anyone watching the digital workplace over the past year there are no real surprises as it is clear that many enterprises are struggling with digital transformation projects. What is less obvious is what organizations can do about it although developing a comprehensive strategy before acting is probably a good start.

Microsoft Invests Heavily Elon Musk Company

Sticking with AI, and future trends with AI and the digital workplace, Microsoft has just announced that it is investing $1 billion in the Elon Musk-founded OpenAI, a San Francisco startup which, Musk claims, is going to revolutionize AI.

And why? A statement from the company explained the investment as follows: “We’re partnering to develop a hardware and software platform within Microsoft Azure which will scale to AGI. We’ll jointly develop new Azure AI supercomputing technologies, and Microsoft will become our exclusive cloud provider — so we’ll be working hard together to further extend Microsoft Azure’s capabilities in large-scale AI systems.”

In reality, what this means is that the two companies will be working to push AI beyond its current, obvious limits. The statement adds that despite systematic and regular improvements to AI, all AI system building today involves a lot of manual engineering for each well-defined task. But if the companies work off general intelligence build on one system and surpasses humans that this mundane tasks this would take artificial intelligence a major step forward.

However, Microsoft’s take on the investment is a little different. In a statement it said: Microsoft and OpenAI will jointly build new Azure AI supercomputing technologies. OpenAI will port its services to run on Microsoft Azure, which it will use to create new AI technologies and deliver on the promise of artificial general intelligence. Microsoft will become OpenAI’s preferred partner for commercializing new AI technologies.

It’s clear that Microsoft sees this a major tech investment in the workplace of the future. Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft said of the investment. “AI is one of the most transformative technologies of our time and has the potential to help solve many of our world’s most pressing challenges. By bringing together OpenAI’s breakthrough technology with new Azure AI supercomputing technologies, our ambition is to democratize AI — while always keeping AI safety front and center — so everyone can benefit.”

Nor is it clear how the investment will be injected, nor whether this is a long term investment in installments or something much shorter with a large infusion of money very quickly. More on this as it unfolds.

Dropbox Upgrades Video Capabilities

Elsewhere, San Francisco-based Dropbox is rolling out new integrations with video, audio, and transcription tools such as Adobe's Premiere Rush, Otter.ai, Simon Says, Videomenthe, Vidrovr, and GrayMeta's Curio. According to a blog post from Dropbox this is all about workflows and pulling all kinds of new video capabilities into workflows. “With the rise of HD, 4K and 8K video, online social video services, and podcasting, the need for faster, more efficient video and audio production workflows grows every year,” the blog reads.  The integrations will allow users to access Dropbox files natively without leaving the application interface.

This is only the latest move from Dropbox, which is looking to create a place for itself in the enterprise digital workplace and years as a larger consumer-oriented storage and file-sharing company.

In June, for example, it created new partnerships with Zoom, Atlassian and has, of course, Slack as well as an existing G Suite integration that gives enterprise users of both systems access to G Suite documents of all kinds directly within Dropbox itself. Dropbox has also been making changes to its interface in an effort to provide users with a single place to work with all digital workplace apps. Lots more to come from Dropbox soon.

Dynamic Signal’s New Desktop Application

Meanwhile, San Bruno, Calif.-based Dynamic Signal which develops an employee communication and engagement platform, has announced a new desktop application that extends the functionality of the platform. The new feature makes it easier to deploy, access, and utilize the platform for a streamlined user experience.

The new desktop application extends the reach of communication to all employees across all channels, on whatever devices they prefer, while cutting through the noise of cluttered inboxes and collaboration tools.

The company has also launched a suite of new integrations with Microsoft Office 365. These new features, which include a system for cross-domain identity management (SCIM) integration with the Microsoft Azure Active Directory Provisioning service, a Microsoft Teams bot and a Microsoft SharePoint web part, build toward a shared goal of providing a seamless employee communication and engagement technology stack for the organizations.

The combined functionalities of the integrations between Dynamic Signal and Microsoft will enable users to efficiently manage top-down communication for knowledge-based and first-line employees with a single platform

Ricoh Buys DocWare

Finally this week, New Windsor New York-based Ricoh has announced that is buying Germany-based DocuWare, a provider of Content Services software.  Headquartered in Germany and the United States, DocuWare provides cloud and on-premises document management and workflow automation software to enterprises globally.

Ricoh has been investing in digital workplace services by growing both organically and through acquisition. The acquisition of DocuWare is in line with Ricoh’s strategy to grow its digital workplace transformation offering.

The deal with DocuWare is expected to close over the summer subject to receiving clearance from the relevant competition authorities. Financial details of the deal were not revealed.