It’s that time of the year when we provide predictions for the key technologies that will shape the workplace for global businesses. Many trends we predicted at the beginning of 2022 have become a reality.
Both technology and macroeconomic trends are shaping how enterprises are transforming the future of work. With the increasing adoption of hybrid work and a focus on employee retention, enterprises are looking to invest in technology services and solutions that enhance employee experience (EX). The scope of work for enterprise IT organizations has transformed from issue resolution to experience enhancement.
As technology becomes an integral part of lines of business, the workplace can no longer be looked at in silos as horizontal business functions. In the age of hybrid work, as global teams work virtually, technologies that foster a culture of belonging and shared values are in demand. Employee performance is no longer evaluated based on whether employees are working from the office or remotely but on their work efficiency. Also, with increasing concern about a possible economic slowdown, enterprises are focusing their technology spending on vendor consolidation and doing more with less.
The following are the top 10 predictions for the workplace in 2023, with a focus on employee experience, talent retention, technology consolidation and hybrid work:
- Workplace technologies will be more focused on sustainability. Based on our interactions with enterprise clients and service providers, we have observed an increased interest in sustainable technologies. Multiple managed workplace service providers and technology solution vendors are offering carbon footprint reduction as a value-add and a critical capability. As global enterprises focus on a greener economy, they will be looking to include sustainability and environmental impact issues in technology service contractual agreements. These considerations will significantly influence buying decisions associated with workplace technology. Companies will increasingly leverage device analytics to measure power consumption, sustainable printing, virtual meetings and remote support to reduce field technician travel, etc.
- Employee engagement will drive the adoption of emerging technologies. The use of hybrid and remote working models requires greater capacity for collaboration among globally dispersed teams. As employees across the globe work on joint projects and tasks, organizations understand the need to foster a culture of belonging and engagement. And, as more expressive and vocal generations (Gen Z and Gen Alpha) enter the workplace, they expect technology solutions to help them provide appropriate virtual representation that suits their personalities. There will be an increasing focus on technologies enabling such an environment, be it with a next-gen intranet, metaverse-enabled virtual workplace or avatar-based representations.
- End-user experience measurement (EUEM) will translate into broader business impact. A growing number of workplace technology solutions are offering EUEM by analyzing and monitoring devices and application performance. These solutions also integrate with IT support and existing IT infrastructure to provide insights into changing EX with digital technologies, often referred to as digital employee experience (DEX). These solutions and associated managed services generate powerful dashboards to provide high-level insights into technology assets and performance. While this analysis is beneficial for enterprise IT organizations, with the expanding scope of IT and deeper integration with the business, companies will need to commit to contextualizing these insights into broader business and industry-level impacts and peer comparisons.
- The Unified-Communication-as-a-Service (UCaaS) market will witness more acquisitions and consolidations as it transitions into XaaS. The UCaaS market (referred to as UCCaaS in the ISG Provider LensTM report) has seen significant acquisitions and partnerships among vendors in the past year. Vendors are consolidating their capabilities in telephony, collaboration, productivity, e-mail, calendar and video meetings. They are also developing either in-house contact center solutions or acquiring firms specializing in Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS). The number of acquisitions and partnerships will continue to grow as the market consolidates to offer Everything as a Service (XaaS) by integrating more SaaS applications into a seamless experience with physical equipment to support in-person meetings.
- VDI and DaaS technology enhancement will drive further adoption. True to our prediction last year, enterprises are increasingly investing in desktop virtualization and cloud-based virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). We see an increase in the adoption of two solutions offered by Microsoft: Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) and Windows 365 (also known as cloud PC). In addition, multiple providers offer Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), leveraging their partnerships with technology vendors. With the hybrid workplace, enterprise IT is increasingly considering ways to enable workplace access to employees on corporate-owned and unmanaged devices and support bring-your-own-device (BYOD). Large enterprises opting for device-as-a-service and end-to-end device lifecycle management to reduce capex funding will also leverage these technologies to support Windows-based applications on non-Windows devices (such as Macs). As virtual desktops become more commonplace and comparatively easier to implement (cloud PC can run in a simple web browser), we’ll likely see a growing number of implementations of VDI DaaS beyond traditional use cases. Windows 7 and Windows Server 12 with extended support ends this year, which will drive enterprises depending on those for their virtual desktop needs to switch to AVD or Windows 365.
- UEM will fade into the broader ITSM/ITAM/EUEM space. While device management is still a key aspect in workplace technology, it is becoming infused into an overall technology solution. Adopting or transitioning to a unified endpoint management (UEM) solution is not a new approach. Enterprises are increasingly leveraging UEM solutions to manage various new and traditional devices. However, many leading UEM vendors are no longer positioning their solutions as UEM offerings alone. They are now part of a larger cybersecurity solution suite, an ITSM suite or an IT asset management (ITAM) solution suite. Leading vendors in this space have also developed capabilities for EUEM. This means device management is no longer only about managing multiple endpoints in a single pane of glass; it has a broader purpose of managing the entire IT landscape. This will lead to IT leaders shifting their day-to-day operations away from enrolling devices, enforcing policies and managing patches to managing the entire IT estate and measuring user experience.
- Managed service providers will focus on industry verticalization and co-innovation. As enterprise clients become more receptive to eXperience Level Agreements (XLAs), there will be an increasing need to tailor the service portfolio to enhance user experience in specific industries. Managed workplace service providers will focus on providing industry-level differentiators and proven solutions for specific vertical use cases for in-office, remote and hybrid work. This will include setting up and leveraging more physical and virtual co-innovation centers and consulting engagements to assist clients with the adoption of the latest technologies and provide insights on the impacts of these technologies on their respective industries. Enterprises must consider the evolved scope of managed services to select the best suitable service partner.
- Workplace support function will use self-serving technologies to enhance EX. A strong set of integrated cognitive technologies are available to strengthen workplace support services. The service desk has been using automation and analytics for some time to assist in the “shift left” approach and improve the understanding of incident context and its impact on EX. Managed service providers are also integrating augmented reality to help field technicians resolve their device issues, specifically for front-line workers and users of non-traditional computing devices. Similarly, tech cafés and IT vending machines will use self-serving technologies such as walk-up virtual agents to enhance the experience. In addition, both enterprises and service providers will focus on the smooth adoption and sustained use of new technologies and services, which will become integral parts of XLAs.
- Service desk will be integrated more with business functions. The IT support function can also integrate with the existing technology stack so users can use the same channel for raising service tickets as they use for collaboration. This may be Microsoft Teams, for example. The service desk will become more integrated with other business functions within an enterprise. When these integrations are extended to non-IT enterprise applications such as HR, sales and finance, they will provide an integrated approach for reaching out to IT support. We expect increased use of RPA and machine learning to support these business processes.
- Workplace technologies will begin to act as personal digital secretaries. With the growing popularity of low-/no-code automation and the advent of the latest large language model (LLM) such as ChatGPT, we are seeing early signs of technologies that assist employees and enterprise IT to work smarter. While low-code technologies help enterprise IT create automated solutions for computing needs, LLM will assist users and IT support agents in working efficiently. For example, support staff can use generative AI to produce a usable code in PowerShell to create a virtual desktop instance. This leads to true technology democratization and the evolution of workplace technology to personal digital secretaries that every employee and IT staff can afford.
In 2023, managing workplace technologies will no longer be the job of enterprise IT alone. As EX defines the future of work – and as vertical and business contextualization defines EX – there will be new decision-makers and influencers for workplace technology investment beyond the CIO.
ISG helps companies assess and source fit-for-purpose workplace services and solutions. Contact us to find out how we can help.