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The workplace is intimately shaped by the expectations of the people who work there. When evolving workplace technology, especially collaboration tools, it’s important to understand these expectations and incorporate them into your strategy.
"Collaboration will continue to be an anchor technology to drive digital transformation and raise Humanability"
So what shapes the expectations of employees? Societal trends and the consumerization of technology are two huge factors. When people use technology in their personal lives for collaboration and communication, it shapes their perception of how work gets done and how technology can be used to accomplish their goals. An example is the proliferation of consumer technology like iMessage and Whatsapp within the enterprise which is usually not controlled by the enterprise. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in home assistants have also driven the increasing comfort employees have when interacting with Bots.
Users are also increasingly concerned about privacy and security. The very public deposition of Mark Zuckerberg had a visible impact on the public’s view of personal data and privacy. These concerns now permeate the enterprise. We see employees increasingly voice concerns about their privacy and how the company is handling those concerns.
The labor market also shapes how employees behave. According to research by Gallup Daily, more than half of employees are not engaged at work and are actively looking for other opportunities. The gig economy has made transient (very short-term employees) a reality in today’s workforce-something that demands the kind of agility most organizations are not prepared for. As employment becomes agile, employees are relying on mobile devices more and more to get work done.
Companies also find themselves constantly dealing with change - competition, M&As, customer demands, regulations, and keeping up with a morphing tech market.
These rapidly changing factors dictate that the workplace remains ever-evolving and collaboration is and will continue to be the anchor technology for driving digital transformation in the enterprise.
So if you are evolving the collaboration landscape, what should you focus on?
Look for simple, smart, secure, integrated suites that deliver real-time collaboration and a great mobile experience across multiple channels. People are increasingly using less email in their personal lives, choosing shorter form communications and social media apps instead. Suites like G Suite and Office 365 offer integrated, multiple channels for storage, sharing, collaboration and communication that move the enterprise away from being email-centric. While the space is dominated by these two players today, expect to see more compelling offerings from players like Facebook that have cornered the consumer market in these spaces.
As employees evolve their use cases, the extensible nature of these platforms allows for progression. There is an abundance of add-on services that address niche work functions. Some collaborative teams, projects, or strategic initiatives may work best using Trello, while others could be handled efficiently in Smartsheet. There are opportunities to address specialized business needs with bespoke technology that play nicely with the core tools.
The more comfortable users become with Home Assistants, the more AI and ML will impact business processes in the enterprise. At Verizon, we are seeing a growing appetite for digital personal assistants and chatbots, dramatically reducing our service calls. This approach empowers people with access to effective, personalized self-service solutions on demand. It’s only natural that these types of technology will be leveraged going forward and become more assistive for employees to drive faster, more efficient decision-making.
Smart devices and the Internet of Things will continue to evolve rapidly. At home, people can search for a specific movie from dozens of streaming services and start playing it on a screen in the room of their choice without lifting a finger. The notion of a smart enterprise - where devices and software understand and anticipate what users are trying to do - will pave the way for big changes in our work environments well beyond the typical office.
We expect to eventually see the launch of an AI marketplace which integrates all of our machine learning models, insights and data as easily consumable resources. It’s a big challenge, but it can be done with a well-orchestrated set of levers.
While technology is central to this evolution, it’s important for IT to partner with other important organizations to effect this change. Real estate evolves the physical landscape for employees. Partnering closely with this organization allows a CIO to create a digital counterpart to the physical transformation and make the workplace even more integrated. Stay connected with Human Resources, Company Culture and Communications since they are intimately aware of the conversations being had by employees and have programs to empower and enable them. Partnering with these organizations will ensure that your strategy is meaningful, accounts for diversity, wellness and work life balance and stays relevant to the needs of the employees.
We’ve said this before but we’ll reiterate: Collaboration will continue to be an anchor technology to drive digital transformation and raise Humanability. Develop your foundational strategies, manage your partnerships and levers well, and you’ll build a destination workplace for diverse, multi-skilled talent.
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