At the end of a year with significant global macroeconomic and technological disruption, we predict 2024 will be filled with more optimism and caution. Along with managing ongoing hybrid work, workplace leaders of enterprises are also tasked with designing a return-to-office approach. This process includes building strategies from both technology and cultural aspects. The increasing interest and rapid advancements in AI technology have opened doors for many possibilities in workplace technology management, end-user productivity and experience enhancement. Before we predict the top trends that will likely impact digital workplace technologies in 2024, let us review how our last year’s predictions fared.
How Did Last Year’s Predictions Turn Out
|Last year's prediction
|Workplace technologies will be more focused on sustainability.
|Enterprises are increasingly focusing on environment, social and governance (ESG) as a corporate initiative.
|Employee engagement will drive the adoption of emerging technologies.
|Employee engagement remains a priority, although investments in technologies such as metaverse have been limited.
|End-user experience measurement (EUEM) will translate into a broader business impact.
|This space has had significant traction as clients leverage digital employee experience (DEX) technology.
|The Unified-Communication-as-a-Service (UCaaS) market will witness more acquisitions and consolidations as it transitions into Anything-as-a-Service (XaaS).
|Market consolidation toward XaaS continues, with clients considering Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) and UCaaS together.
|Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and DaaS technology enhancement will drive their adoption.
|There has been a steady uptake in adopting cloud PCs and Azure Virtual Desktop among enterprise clients.
|UEM will fade into the broader ITSM/ITAM/EUEM space.
|Barring SMBs, enterprise clients are adopting the DEX model to support UEM requirements.
|Managed service providers will focus on industry verticalization and co-innovation.
|Mature and large-scale managed service providers focusing on verticalization and co-innovation are leading the market.
|Workplace support functions will use self-serving technologies to enhance EX.
|Focus on shift-left and automated ticket resolution continues as clients seek more cost optimization opportunities.
|Service desk will be integrated more with business functions.
|Recent ISG Research highlights that an employee-facing single entry point for a digital workplace is one of the top priorities for workplace leaders. Clients business-level outcomes in addition to IT-level outcomes wherever the support function is integrated with the business.
|Workplace technologies will begin to act as personal digital secretaries.
|There are already strong indications that clients and providers are leveraging generative AI for transforming digital workplace into a personal assistant.
Top 10 Predictions for Enterprises, Digital Workplace Service and Technology Providers
- Distinct offices under IT will drive remote and in-office work. While hybrid work continues, many global organizations recognize the need for in-person interactions and collaboration. Large enterprises are now focusing on implementing return-to-office strategies. Organizations realize that IT needs to enable remote workers by ensuring uninterrupted access to technology, it also needs to enhance the in-office experience and facilitate in-person interactions, meetings and collaborations. These two elements will have distinct requirements, possibly driven by two separate IT functions rather than a joint team or group. Experience equity will be extremely important. While end-user computing and unified communications collaboration (UCC) technologies will drive remote and hybrid working technology enablement, a new breed of specialists that manage modern in-office workspace solutions will arise to lead the in-office technology services space. These specialists will work closely with IT and facilities management teams to support UCC, access control, virtual assistants, space planning and intelligent meetings.
- Employee experience (EX) will be owned more by HR than by IT. As much as IT organizations love to be called the “employee experience enablement department,” organizations will assign EX enhancement to the HR function. IT will still broadly drive the technology support, but EX will fall in the HR department’s purview. This is because organizations will begin to understand that the scope of EX is much broader than just technology experience. They will need to focus on leveraging workplace technology as much as possible to support EX enhancements, such as supporting employee engagement with a collaboration platform or providing employee satisfaction with the service desk as a measure of overall EX. Analytics and insights derived from using UCC solutions will provide insights into the healthy working habits of employees.
- Digital employee experience (DEX) will be enhanced with AI technology. Global workplace leaders, especially those from ISG Provider Lens’ Cost and Change Challengers archetype, who are at the onset of their digital workplace transformation, will consider DEX a quick win among all transformational technologies. DEX provides visibility into the IT estate and helps monitor the health of end-user computing technologies and beyond; it also auto-resolves several common incidents. It can address enterprise IT teams' most common and pressing needs and is now offered by specialized DEX and UEM technology providers. IT organizations will increasingly adopt DEX as the first step in building an experience-centric workplace. AI technology holds substantial potential in DEX solutions, assisting workplace support and service desk teams to better resolve end users’ queries with suggested resolution steps.
- EUC-managed services will likely spin off from the broader digital workplace services portfolio. End-user computing remains at the heart of digital workplace services for many managed service providers. However, standalone EUC-managed services deals are rare, and these services are increasingly dependent on OEM, device management software, desktops-as-a-service and device-as-a-service provider partners. Also, OEMs such as Lenovo now offer device-as-a-service as part of their managed services. Such developments leave little room for providers with an outsize focus on EUC managed services. To differentiate themselves, global system integrators or managed service providers will need to separate these core services and strengthen the value they offer. As the decision pyramid for future workplace technology buying has changed, providers must upgrade their value proposition.
- VDI will be less about supporting legacy Windows and more about modern applications. VDI and desktops-as-a-service technology have historically supported legacy Windows operating systems and applications. As more global enterprise clients minimize their dependency on legacy Windows applications, VDI finds new use cases. These include supporting graphics-intensive workloads with GPU-enabled Windows 365, connecting to a virtual desktop using mobile devices with a unified app view or leveraging AI to optimize virtual desktop utilization with Cloud PC. Microsoft 365 is consolidating all Microsoft Office and productivity applications; a virtual desktop is not limited to accessing legacy Windows or Windows-only apps on new endpoints anymore. It has been extended to access modern Microsoft productivity applications, Teams or graphics processing applications on non-Windows devices. Many virtual desktop solutions extend support to collaboration solutions such as Cisco and Zoom. With advancements in Windows 365 or Cloud PC solutions from Microsoft and their seamless integration with other virtual desktop technology providers such as VMware and Citrix, VDI is one of the modern workplace technologies, not a legacy EUC one.
- Generative AI technology will be significantly adopted in the IT service desk. Global IT organizations have long struggled to implement automated contextual support for end users through service desks. Generative AI and large language models (LLMs) have opened a new avenue to transform how enterprise IT operates workplace support functions. A significant amount of time is spent training an automated assistant to become conversant with most incident issues. Even then, it depends on the end users’ technology adoption level for adequate ticket reduction. Adopting generative AI will shorten this training time, enabling IT teams to build knowledge article repositories swiftly and use them to support service desk agents and end-users’ self-help.
- Modern managed services will focus on consulting advisory on the likes of Copilot. Enterprise clients find Microsoft Copilot and similar generative AI-enabled assistant solutions to be sure-shot productivity enhancers. Copilot(s) will be at the heart of Microsoft products, including Windows 11. Microsoft Copilot and reusable Copilots made possible with Copilot Studio and Copilot-driven Power Apps will impact the need for workplace technology in most enterprises. As Microsoft and other LLM providers enable users to create and train their own assistants, enterprise clients will need expert help identifying the best way to leverage such powerful technologies and train their users securely. Many existing managed workplace service providers and partners will offer consulting and advisory services to assist clients with the best approach to leveraging this technology to enhance user productivity and maintain security and privacy compliance.
- AI technology will not be a differentiator for UCaaS. Many UCaaS providers offer AI-enabled assistants to support meetings, video conferencing, note-taking, writing and business function operations. Their similar and robust technology solutions help the contact center side of their business. These solutions are no longer distinctive, and they alone will not be the determining factor in selecting one UCaaS provider over another. Enterprises will instead need to explore leveraging these features with their existing UCaaS providers. Therefore, integrating and extending support to the contact center and customer support function will drive provider selection.
- The era of collaborative work management dawns. Modern work management is about organizing tasks, activities, planning and resource allocation on a unified platform that integrates with modern collaboration and communication applications, leverages automation and analytics and enhances individual productivity. This newly evolved category, called collaborative work management, redefines the future of enterprise project and task management. By 2025, two-thirds of organizations are expected to standardize collaborative and task-oriented work management applications to ensure the portfolio of business processes and resources are used effectively. Many UCaaS, modern intranet and content collaboration providers offer a “work canvas” and are defining this space with leading project management solutions. Current productivity application providers that started in niche areas, such as note-taking and online presentation creation, are increasingly leveraging AI technology to develop features that support workflow automation, enterprise wiki, project management and automation, which will be critical for collaborative work management.
- There will be an increasing focus on XR and VR wearables for frontline workers. Although still nascent for in-office use, immersive, augmented and virtual reality technology has significant scope for frontline non-office workers in specific industries such as manufacturing. A recent study by ISG highlights that enterprise clients that support their frontline workers with enablement technology perform better and register higher EX. Global frontline worker management leaders are increasingly looking into implementing emerging technologies to support their workforce. There will be increased adoption of extended and virtual reality for frontline workers, which will call for additional management and security mechanisms.
Like all other domains, AI technology is expected to disrupt the workplace. Enterprises must be cautious when it comes to investing in their providers’ existing automation solutions under the guise of AI. ISG advises clients to demand outcomes relevant to the business and measurable experience enhancements or cost optimization with any new AI-enabled solutions offered by workplace technology or managed service providers.
As the technology landscape and global macroeconomic situations keep changing, some trends may change or become irrelevant. ISG keeps a tab on the advancements in the workplace technology space and is here to help you navigate your transformation journey. Please feel free to reach out to us.