5 takeways from the Gartner Digital Workplace Summit.

“Benjamin Franklin once quipped that ‘…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.’ In business, this very much holds true with one significant addition: conferences.” This is how Chris Meyers starts his article with tips to make the best of your conference season this fall.

For me, making the best out of the season means picking the right conference. Attending the Gartner Digital Workplace summit is definitely on that list. The conference has been renamed from Portals, Content and Collaboration summit since the 2015 edition. It announced a transformation in the market from the isolated terms portals, content and collaboration into a unified ‘digital workplace’ term.

Here are 5 insights that are worthwhile elaborating on.

Digital Connectivism

Gartner predicts that by 2020, over 26 billion devices will be interconnected. There will be 215 trillion stable connections and 63 million new ones every second.

The figures in this statement are rather abstract but the basic message of the Keynote of the inspirational Frank Buytendijk was about digital connectivism. It describes how people and things exist and interact in the global ecosystem of digital connections and how this shapes a digital society.

“There is no such thing as a ‘user’ anymore” was the eye-opener of the first day. We knew the user as operator, who filled in forms and performed data entry. Operators have a toolset to perform tasks. We then considered the user as inter actor with technology. Tools are giving information back and guiding us in certain tasks. Today we merely differentiate between people and things. Agents, legal entities, human beings, digital identities, … are concepts that are connected and exist in a certain context.
API first approach, semantic web applications, NLP, … are foundational components of future enterprise platforms.

It’s the people, stupid.

Technology is more present outside the enterprise than inside. The key driver in this change is ‘people’. Employees are translating their personal experience with technology into requirements and expectations towards these corporate tools. Gartner introduced the ACME framework to help digital workplace and IT leaders boost the effectiveness of collaboration initiatives. Effective collaboration is a result of motivation by selecting enabling technology for each type of collaborative activity and putting it in a common context.

One of the obvious statements was ‘You can’t have a successful digital business without a great digital workplace!’

The digital workplace is not the intranet, your Sharepoint with an uncontrolled set of collaboration sites nor the well structured Confluence. It’s a portfolio of strategic IT services that contributes to a compelling employee experience and boost individual productivity.

Initiatives that we know from the outside of organisations on the web, are finding their way to the internal tools. Some interesting ones to think about, from tactical to strategic:

  • employee journeys & persona creation.
  • behaviour tracking in the digital workspace.
  • people alignment (as an extension of business-IT alignment).

ECM is still dead.

RedTree and Panoptic’s tagline, since foundation, is ‘People Meet Content’. We are building and integrating portal solutions, collaboration suites, content management implementations, … . The consumerization of IT lead to a new set of expectations, requirements and finally, capabilities.

What used to be Enterprise Content Management is now called ‘Content Services’. All these separate solutions are placed under the umbrella of content services.

Your project has either a focus on employee & partner collaboration. In that case file sync & share platforms might meet the requirements. Gartner calls them Content Collaboration Platforms.

When the focus of the project has a focus on customer or employee engagement, it might be good to look at the evolved set of features that WCM and Portal products or digital experience platforms are offering.

ECM as a term has evolved into a layer of services that is delivered by ‘content services platforms’.

Gartner states that only 35% of organizations are taking the approach of a single repository and consider it complex. Other organizations are looking for business-need-driven solutions and implement a variety of tools that are dealing with ideas, transactions, records and communication between employees, partners and customers.

Enterprise search has evolved.

Insight is accurate and deep understanding, which enables decision and action. Insight engines are satellite navigation for decision and action in the workplace, and every employee needs one.

Gartner renamed its Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Search to Magic Quadrant for Insight Engines.

The main difference between a search engine and an insight engine is the fact that a search engine is, based on a user’s question, pointing to a document or location where you might find your answer. Insight engines are able to understand your question, in your context and replies with the answer or extended information, rather then offering you pointers to content. Information can be defined as data and content, delivered in context.

Gartner identified 5 touchpoint categories where insight engines could be involved:

  • instant access throughout the digital workplace (Search bar on intranet, chat, …)
  • custom-made applications (knowledge bases, who is who, fraud detection, …)
  • Embedded applications (in-app help, product recommendations, delivery of relevant documents in CRM, …)
  • Query-driven information architecture (Information architecture of digital commerce experiences, sections within a website, …)
  • Audit and Analysis of content (sentiment analysis, extraction of datasets for syndication to analytical tools)

With this variety of touch points, Insight Engines are considered as foundational services of a content services approach.

Everyday AI

Artificial Intelligence is an overhyped term nowadays. For some it arouses fear, for others it’s fun to play with. Enterprise Innovators are thinking hard to define business cases where AI, Deep Learning and Machine Learning are mentioned in the initial paragraph. Five years ago we struggled to find 10 AI-based business applications. In five years, we will struggle to find 10 that don’t.

Gartner states that through 2022, few jobs are fully replaceable, but most occupations will have at least some activities augmented by AI.

Everyday AI’s impact is subtle and slow and is perceived as a new feature by employees and introduced in normal course of work. This everyday AI is in contrast with targeted AI where employees are directed to use it, with a dramatic impact.

SaaS platforms are the enablers of everyday AI into the organisation. Vendors of SaaS platforms are integrating assisting services into their products as extra features that are easy to use and are creating an engaging experience for employees.

Everyday A.I. is assisting in three actions: ‘discover something’, ‘do something’ or ‘learn something’.

When thinking about your digital workplace programme, Everyday AI should be part of it.