Site of Checkpoint Charlie in Germany.
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We’re pretty much halfway through the year. Can you believe it? Neither do we. It was just a short time ago we were making all of our digital workplace predictions, right? Let’s recall some of the forecasts for digital workplace:

  • Digital workplace solutions will increasingly become a marriage between bringing business value and increasing employee engagement because these tools are not only a good experience, but they have the power to be transformative. — James Glasnapp, UX researcher at PARC. 
  • Data security and data sensitivity will be two principal considerations of enterprise leaders as GDPR is applied across data-driven industries. GDPR legislation is changing company culture. — Lawrence Flynn, CEO of Artificial Solutions. 
  • The cloud will continue to play a key role in the enterprise, but the way it is being used will change. — Stefano Bellasio, CEO of Cloud Academy.

We figured the halfway point is a good time to see how some of these predictions in the digital workplace have panned out. Here are some digital workplace pundits' take on where certain trends in the digital workplace stand at the halfway point of 2019.

For ROI and Analytics, Still Early 

Leaders have predicted the importance of ROI and analytics of how to measure the impact of digital workplace. Yet from an employee engagement standpoint, this is still early, said Alison Murdock, chief marketing officer of SocialChorus. According to a SocialChorus study, 57% of communicators stated being able to measure the impact of communications on employee engagement was their top priority for the future of internal communications. 

However, 85% said that measuring the positive impact of internal communications on employee engagement is a challenge, and 64% say they don’t have a good way to know whether employees have seen or read their published content. “So,” Murdock said, “we still have a long way to go.” 

Related Article: What Will Disrupt the 2019 Digital Workplace?

Workplace Continues to be Redefined

One of the major trends that is actively shaping the world in which we work is the shift toward redefining the workplace, according to Eric Hanson, VP of Market Intelligence at Fuze. This centers, he said, on how organizations evaluate the utilization and value of physical space and the reality of an increasingly distributed digital workforce. 

“Now more than ever, more employees are choosing when, where, and how they want to work, and IT decision-makers are acknowledging this shift as they endeavor to retain and compete for talent,” Hanson said. According to Fuze’s Workforce Futures survey, 54 percent of workers surveyed would move to another company for a “work from anywhere” culture, and 83 percent indicated they don’t need to be in an office to be productive.

Will Digital Workplace Catch Up to Consumer World

Digital workplace solutions will need to (1) equal or exceed solutions we have for the home, (2) help us to change, utilize and see physical office space in new ways and (3) change the average employee's mindset, Glasnapp wrote in his CMSWire piece.

“These are laudable goals, but also not directly tied to needs or business objectives, so will take longer to happen,” said Dion Hinchcliffe, VP and principal analyst of Future of Work at Constellation Research. Hinchcliffe added that many digital workplace solutions for the enterprise do exceed what we have at home today. Hinchcliffe cited WalkMe’s and Workfront’s efforts to help workers get better business results from digital tools. “We also see steady progress on digitizing and re-imagining the office space, from Google's Jamboard to the new Microsoft HoloLens 2,” Hinchcliffe added. “Tools to effectively change the employee mindset, not so much yet.”

Related Article: 10 Trends That Will Shape the Digital Workplace in 2019

One-Way Surveys Still the Norm

Companies, Glint CEO Jim Barnett told CMSWire in December, will turn the one-way employee engagement survey approach into one that is focused on holistic, action-oriented dialogue and teaching transparency as a habit to leaders and people managers.

Hinchcliffe said one-way surveys are still the norm in most organizations, with only slow but steady growth of open enterprise-wide digital dialogue. “Yet,” he added, “the value of the latter is well known in the many studies of open collaboration. The advances of more transparent and interactive employee dialogue is happening today increasingly in platforms like Slack, SAP Jam and Microsoft Yammer. But it'll be a few more years yet before open digital dialogue and two-way information exchange is truly the norm between those who have information, and those that want it.”

Communication Barriers Becoming Thinner

The digital workplace will keep evolving to include partners, contractors, supply chain and, for some, customers, Paul Miller of the Digital Workplace Group predicted. “Inside and outside start to seem less ‘fixed,’” Miller said.

“The breaking down of communications barriers, which actually started with email, but became fragmented with subsequent generations of supposedly open tools in later years, is indeed beginning to slowly improve again,” Hinchliffe said. “More and more comms tools are what I call ‘audience agnostic’ and allow anyone to participate, which is vital for modern digital workplace tools to supplant older, less effective tools and platforms by allowing more useful cross-border engagement.”

Related Article: Where Employee Experience Fits in the Digital Workplace

Digital Water Coolers Force Fake News Watch

Another prediction for 2019 was that “digital water coolers” will force companies to combat fake news, and this prediction could not be more important. Nicole Alvino, co-founder and chief strategy officer at SocialChorus, told CMSWire that in December. According to a study by SocialChorus, 51% of communicators say prevention of misinformation and rumors is leadership’s top concern in communicating with employees. 

“This fake-news dilemma is fueled by a perfect storm of societal, organizational and even psychological factors,” Murdock said. “The rise of new media, social and collaboration channels means anyone in an organization can spread information, and it’s simply become too easy for fact-checking to go out the window.”

IT Departments Jumping on Major Collaboration Apps

Going forward, we will see enterprises IT departments formally adopting team collaboration applications such as Cisco Webex Teams, Slack and Microsoft Teams, said Ray Watson, VP of technology at Masergy.

“This prediction seems to be coming true,” Hinchcliffe said, “as enterprises seem to be firmly shifting to the latest lightweight team collaboration tools and platforms in 2019. However, older solutions are still so extensively adopted that these tools aren't yet the dominant ones, but they now have a surprisingly good chance at becoming so.”