Gartner Top Technologies and Trends Driving the Digital Workplace

How artificial intelligence, smart workspaces and talent markets will boost employee digital dexterity in future digital workplaces.

Imagine a meeting where the first five minutes are not wasted because the conference line, video and meeting agenda are all ready to go, thanks to a virtual personal assistant (VPA) in a fully digital workplace.

The average work day is becoming filled with employee-facing technologies that are transforming how work gets done. Organizations that help their employees become more agile, inclusive and engaged are in an excellent position to use emerging technologies to drive competitive advantage.

Competitive advantage for 30% of organizations will come from the workforce’s ability to creatively exploit emerging technologies

In fact, Gartner predicts that over the next several years, the greatest source of competitive advantage for 30% of organizations will come from the workforce’s ability to creatively exploit emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented analytics.

Matthew Cain, Distinguished VP Analyst, Gartner, has categorized the top employee-facing technology trends that CIOs will use to drive successful digital workplaces over the next decade.

Trend 1: New work nucleus

The tools that underpin digital dexterity will change dramatically and constantly with a move to software as a service (SaaS) portfolio. When organizations ran software on-premises, major changes occurred at the rate of every 3-5 years, but with SaaS, the rate of change is constant.

The traditional on-premises work nucleus includes tools like Microsoft Office, local drives, email and instant messaging. The cloud-based new work nucleus includes tools such as collaborative work management, workstream collaboration, smart meetings and smart drives, all of which foster agile behaviors and a digital dexterous workforce.

Trend 2: Talent transformation

Digital workplaces are composed of “digitally dexterous” individuals, which are employees who have the ability and ambition to apply existing and emerging technologies to drive better business outcomes. According to Gartner, only 9% of the current workforce could be considered having a high degree of digital dexterity.

Engaged employees with an open mindset are more likely to be digitally dexterous and, in turn, generate business value

Future HR-centric strategies and new roles will be designed to boost employee engagement and further digital dexterity. Technology acumen is only one part of digital dexterity. Engaged employees with an open mindset are more likely to be digitally dexterous and, in turn, generate business value in digital initiatives.

An emerging HR capability that will contribute to digital dexterity is internal talent marketplaces. They are algorithmic-driven platforms that enable organizations to match employee attributes and competencies with new projects and teams, creating a more agile approach to new business initiatives.

Read more: 4 Ways CIOs Can Foster Digital Dexterity [Infographic]

Trend 3: Evolving workplaces

The physical work environment will pivot from a fixed location to an ever-changing variety of workspaces, increasingly imbued with IoT and other smart capabilities. Immersive technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality are ready for mainstream businesses for training and immersive conference room services. Employees will ultimately be able to use natural gestures to drive complex processes. 

Office space configuration is important, especially when supporting a mobile workforce. CIOs will need to work with the facilities department to enact change. This can also mean developing more “smart” workspaces, leveraging the IoT.

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Trend 4: AI assists

AI-oriented services that support digital dexterity will have a profound impact on how work gets done. Fusing AI with analytics, for instance, offers a repeatable, structured approach for business decision making. Eventually, AI technologies like VPAs and chatbots will take over some routine employee tasks, like taking meeting minutes.

“This point can be illustrated by the fact that only 4% of Gartner clients today say that they use chatbots in the workplace, but 40% intend to implement them in the near term. That is not something to be taken lightly,” says Cain.

Read more: The CIO’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence

Trend 5: Role of infrastructure and operations (I&O)

I&O activities that support the digital workplace will be increasingly oriented toward boosting workforce digital dexterity. Employees will leverage peer-to-peer IT support and crowdsource from the IT community for solutions. Design thinking — understanding the needs and motivations of employees — will become a central way for the IT organization to develop its services. I&O practices will empower the workforce to navigate I&O services through employee-centric service catalogs and community platforms.

Trend 6: Analytics

“Analytical services are woven through each of the other trends and will become much more available to the non-IT workforce,” says Cain. Data literacy, or the ability for all employees to collect, analyze and apply data insights, is a significant trend within analytics, especially as data drives more and more business decisions.

This article has been updated from the original, published on August 26, 2016, to reflect new events, conditions or research.

Gartner clients can read more in the Hype Cycle for the Digital Workplace, 2018 by Matthew Cain, et al. Listen in to the free webinar: Digital Workplace Hype Cycle: Explore the Future of Work. More information on the future of the digital workplace can be found in the Gartner Featured Insight research collection “A Digital Workplace is Crucial to Digital Transformation.” This research highlights the key opportunities for forward-looking application leaders responsible for digital workplace initiatives.

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