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The digital workplace is no longer an option – it’s a must-have (Gartner Hype Cycle for the Digital)

Application leaders supporting digital workplace initiatives are in the spotlight, given the need to improve the digital resiliency of the workforce during and after the pandemic. This Hype Cycle analyzes the most important tools and disciplines needed to boost workforce digital dexterity.

Most organizations have discovered a new-found respect for IT during the pandemic due to its ability to preserve workforce continuity amid a rapid shift to mandatory work-at-home and other herculean measures. The IT group should exploit the opportunity this presents and double down on digital workplace strategies. The digital workplace is no longer “nice to have;” it is critical to achieve and maintain digital resiliency. The need for digital replacements for in-person activities is leading to heightened interest — not just from IT, but from the broader business community — in emerging technologies included in this Hype Cycle, including virtual events, employee productivity monitoring, desktop-as-as-service and ambient virtual meetings. Three core themes of the digital workplace Employee engagement — We have added a bumper crop of innovation profiles that will help with the post-COVID-19 recovery. An obvious one is employee wellness, which reflects the shift in HR priorities (in some circumstances) to greater attention to employee mental and physical health. An XLA — or experience level agreement — is an attempt to rethink service-level agreements from the employee’s perspective. BYOT (bring your own thing) is a necessary outgrowth of the move to mandatory work-at-home. Not all innovation profiles will be welcomed by employees; the innovation profile for employee productivity monitoring has the potential to diminish employee engagement.

Future of work — We have added several innovation profiles that reflect the emergence of what is sometimes called the “distance” (or “touchless”) economy; business activities that don’t rely on face-to-face human activity. Virtual events are largely self-explanatory, and they are joined by ambient virtual meetings, which represent a new generation of meeting solutions that attempt to more closely mimic an in-person meeting. Other returning innovation profiles point to significant changes in how work gets done — many of which are accelerated by COVID-19 — such as immersive workspaces, smart badges and smart workspaces.

Reimagining workplace technologies — Mandatory work-at-home dynamics have boosted the profile of desktop-as-a-service (DaaS), which we have added to the Hype Cycle for the first time. Given the growing accessibility of robotic process automation to regular employees, we have added it to the list of “democratized” technology services (which also includes the innovation profiles for citizen data science and citizen integrator tools). Content flow is making its first appearance: it represents the idea that organizations get the most value out of content assets by intelligently delivering them in the right context at the right time for an unlimited range of business processes.

Peaking technologies with a high or transformational benefit What was quickly apparent in the transition to mandatory work-at-home in 2020 was the importance of what we call the “new work nucleus” technologies. These are SaaS-based personal and team productivity applications supplied by Microsoft (Office 365), Google (G Suite) or best-of-breed vendors such as Box, Dropbox, Slack, Zoom, Workfront among others. There is no innovation profile for the new work nucleus because it is represented in this Hype Cycle by its constituent parts, such as content collaboration platforms, meeting solutions, workstream collaboration and collaborative work management.

While none of these individually are ranked as transformational technologies, when assembled into a new work nucleus they are the most accessible transformative element represented in this Hype Cycle. The pandemic made it clear that these tools are the foundation, not only for supporting remote work, but for lightweight process automation, accelerating collaboration activities and integrating employee-driven applications. These workloads, coupled with the aforementioned “democratized” technology services, represent the easiest and fastest route to improving workforce digital dexterity. The easiest and fastest way to improve workforce digital dexterity today The new work nucleus is currently accelerating the need for specific innovative digital workplace solutions. The Hype Cycle for the Digital Workplace 2020 describes these technologies as being Saas-based applications to support personal and team productivity. They include content collaboration platforms, meeting solutions, workstream collaboration and collaborative work management. The pandemic made it clear that these tools are the foundation, not only for supporting remote work, but for lightweight process automation, accelerating collaboration activities and integrating employee-driven applications. Push your digitalization Identifying and prioritizing your business and user needs will help you to decide which digitalization areas are most urgent. With an agile platform that unifies content, processes and collaboration services with intelligence and automation, we believe that organizations will have the foundation to implement an innovative digital workplace strategy. If you are interested click here to read the full report, the Gartner Hype Cycle for the Digital Workplace 2020.


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