Today’s digital workplaces are driven by an incredible array of sophisticated new technologies, all deployed with the goal of helping the members of the digital workforce do their jobs more effectively and build a successful digital corporate culture. A recent article from the global IT research and advisory company Gartner, Inc. rounds up 10 of the leading employee-facing technologies that are transforming workplaces and boosting digital dexterity and capability across a broad range of industries.
Powered by advanced algorithms, ambient knowledge is all about proactively delivering highly customized information based on the activities and preferences of an individual user. Consumers will be familiar with ambient knowledge from digital businesses like Netflix or Amazon, which offer personalized recommendations based on purchases or previously viewed items, but it’s also being used in the workplace as a kind of in-house expertise location service, matching employees with the tasks they are most likely to be suited for based on their skills and experience.
Data analysis is the leading force behind successful business decisions, so today’s digital companies need to be sure that they are getting as clear and detailed a picture as possible from the big data sets they have available to them. Enter embedded analytics: contextual data analysis tools that are seamlessly integrated in many software-as-a-service applications, thus enabling sound and repeatable structured business decisions through consistent, automatic analyses.
Production studio technology
The days of basic PowerPoint presentations—featuring slides crammed with text and little else—are over. From sales collateral to internal presentations, content quality is reaching new levels as tools that were once the sole domain of production studios become more common in the average workplace. Going hand in hand with this technology is a greater level of employee empowerment, with businesses encouraging workers to tap into their creativity to package and deliver content designed to lead, sell, and influence.
While immersive technologies like augmented and virtual reality are growing in popularity in gaming and other entertainment fields, they also hold potential for practical applications in the workplace. From immersive conference room services to augmented training sessions, these tools will enhance employees’ ability to deal with complex processes using natural gestures and actions.
More commonly known as the “office landscape,” the concept of bürolandschaft highlights the ongoing importance of physical space and objects in today’s digital workplace. Far from dwindling or becoming a secondary concern as the workforce becomes more mobile and less tied to a physical office, workplace configuration has actually become more important as businesses seek the best ways to support flexible and dynamic teams of workers. “Smart” workplaces tapped in to the Internet of Things are also becoming more widespread.
Faced with the question of how to handle employees who use their own devices (and potentially non-company-sanctioned apps) while at work, digital employers are increasingly choosing to embrace this behavior rather than ban it. This helps to better ensure that such technologies can be supervised and managed securely, diminishing the risk of harm to the business’ digital protections or breaches of sensitive or confidential data. The result is the development of personal clouds: a combination of apps and devices for each employee based on individual preferences.
Virtual personal assistants
It may seem somewhat futuristic to imagine a workplace where every employee has their own virtual personal assistant, but thanks to technologies like Siri, Cortana, and Google Now, that time is likely not far off. As more and more employees get comfortable using these kinds of tools in their personal lives, and as the technology itself improves, virtual personal assistants are gradually becoming more widely used in the workplace for basic tasks such as data retrieval. Eventually, however, such assistants could stand in for employees in a number of more substantial roles, like minute-taking at meetings.
One of the biggest changes wrought in workplaces by the digital revolution has been the breaking down of long-established work silos. Digitization has driven today’s companies to adopt more integrated, less hierarchical structures: a process that has been facilitated by silo-busting tools that enable better communication across organizational boundaries and help employees in all roles solve problems and generate ideas together.
Another area where technological tools are driving and enabling greater employee empowerment is the redesign of organizational processes. Many legacy processes are still widely used, despite their tendency to be inefficient or cumbersome, because changing them requires huge organizational effort. But by giving employees tools to build their own solutions—through the creation of process shortcuts or apps, for example—companies can tap into the power of “citizen developers” and allow their own workers to transform business processes from within.
Today’s employees need new skills and training opportunities in order to thrive in the digital workplace, and companies have found that short, readily available learning opportunities are more effective than more extended sessions. A blend of formal and informal tools like videos, text messages, or quizzes can help boost digital literacy in specific contexts, thus leading to greater digital competency and comfort overall.
By: Keith Krach