Create your ideal employee experience in weeks, not months.
Last week, Future Worx delivered an envisioning workshop for a global bank to examine how a critical client services workflow could be streamlined to double throughput and revenue. After diving into the detail, we explored the art of the possible by looking to digital workplace trends and how they are manifesting among our clients today.
In December, we published our 2021 predictions for employee experience and the future of work. We divided our insights into two interlinked categories: people and technology. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at those technology trends and their significance for businesses everywhere.
At Future Worx, we believe that the winners emerging from the workplace revolution will prioritise people and the end-to-end employee experience above all else. But workplace technology will continue to be the engine that propels your business into orbit and make great things possible. We continue our 2021 predictions with a focus on cutting-edge workplace technology.
Tech Trend 1: Organisations are favouring more custom fit solutions through the Lego Brick Enterprise
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that an all-consuming drive for efficiency makes business processes fragile in the face of disruption. Resilience is now the watchword: an organisation’s ability to withstand disruption and rapidly redeploy people, processes, and technology. As business needs change, organisations must deliver innovation quickly and adapt digital capabilities dynamically. The technologies that make this possible constitute the “Lego Brick Enterprise”.
Employees increasingly expect more personalised application experiences. Today’s workplace applications were designed to address generic challenges and often block innovation. And they usually can’t be replaced wholesale owing to cost and disruption to business. Application vendors are now adapting their offerings to be more modular and consumable through API connectors and UI widgets. These packaged capabilities can be thought of as Lego bricks for custom fitting employee experiences to business and individual needs.
Microsoft’s Power Platform will be a key player in bringing about the Lego Brick Enterprise, owing to its almost universal presence and increasingly sophisticated suite of capabilities. And surfacing such diverse capabilities in Microsoft Teams and other collaboration platforms adds world-class collaboration capabilities to the mix. We also predict an explosion of these packaged capabilities in the rise of the digital hub: modern intranet solutions like Akumina and Unily that unify the workplace experience in ways that makes best sense for your business and people.
Tech Trend 2: The rise of the citizen developer. Robotic Process Automation is going mainstream
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) automates repetitive human tasks by enabling people who understand workflows to encode them into scripts via easy to learn UI controls instead of software code. This low-code / no-code approach has democratised the ability to automate workloads. Now “citizen developers” can quickly build and link together automated workflows across multiple systems.
RPA is enjoying a surge in awareness and deployment owing to Microsoft’s enhanced Power Platform, which made them first-time entrants to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for RPA in 2020. Microsoft entered the Visionaries quadrant following their acquisition of Softomotive, a well-established RPA vendor, whose offerings are being rebranded under the Power Platform umbrella. With automation functionality across the Microsoft 365 stack and available as part of standard licensing, Microsoft is inviting employees everywhere to make a beginning with RPA.
Tech Trend 3: Digital transformation and change management will move from a dark art to data science
Transforming the world of work often depends on the discipline of change management which, despite best efforts, often fails to fully deliver better ways of working. Whether due to corporate inertia or failing to sell value, change management has been hampered by a lack of hard, objective data, relying instead on surveys, interviews, and anecdotes to shed light on human behaviours and motivations. Indeed, change management is one of the few areas that has remained largely untouched by the data-driven revolution. This has made change more of an art than a science, with practitioners delivering success through good instinct, time-tested methodologies and long experience.
However, we are seeing a definite shift in 2021 as organisations become aware of the recent ability to harness aggregate metadata from email, calendars, and other collaboration apps. When combined with business performance and employee data you have a powerful platform for data-driven change. Microsoft Workplace Analytics is leading the charge with an offering that’s emerging from incubation to become generally available in 2021. For the first time we can objectively see how different groups are working and collaborating with each other and make informed hypotheses about why certain outcomes are happening vs others. From there we can plan change and track outcomes according to accurate data on working patterns.
Understandably, this will raise concerns about privacy and employee monitoring, but it’s important to note that Workplace Analytics only handles anonymous collaboration metadata. It also limits analysis to groups of five people or more and allows exclusions. This means that powerful data themes and trends can emerge without impacting privacy.
Tech Trend 4: Adoption of VR and AR technologies will be accelerated by hybrid remote working
Some work activities are hard to replicate remotely. Interactive workshops, onboarding new employees and upskilling the existing workforce are clear examples, especially if the work involved is practical, mechanical or otherwise “hands-on”. Most companies are used to working through problems and learning in physical spaces. But when you can’t bring employees safely into the classroom or workplace, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) helps to bridge the gap. Far more than any video conferencing software, VR has the power to make individuals feel physically together and offers organisations a powerful tool for safely navigating the challenges of the lockdown era.
Fewer distractions compared to the physical world means attendees can immerse themselves in tasks and learning objectives. VR’s completely digital environment allows you to do things that would not be possible in the physical world, such as utilising unlimited digital space for experimentation and learning, in a way that’s entirely safe and does not deplete resources. PwC’s Seeing is Believing report on the economic impact of VR/AR training, learning and development estimates VR training will contribute $294 billion to the global economy by 2030. Facebook’s Oculus and other VR/AR vendors are aggressively promoting their solutions in the B2B space. We predict a surge in awareness and adoption in 2021.
How can I enter the Lego Brick Enterprise?
It’s easier than you think to take your first steps towards the Lego Brick Enterprise and other tech trends we’ve covered in this blog. But the sheer variety of options and approaches often result in businesses standing still despite having all of the cutting-edge capabilities paid for and ready at their fingertips. Book your free consultation with Future Worx today and we’ll help you lay out a path for your business. Don’t let this opportunity for transformation to pass you by.