Predictions for the Digital Workplace

Photo by Andrea De Santis on UnsplashI’ve started going back through some of the responses from the end-of-year #CollabTalk TweetJam in which we always focus on takeaways from the year behind us and make predictions about the year ahead — and beyond. People have asked me to dig up responses from these online discussions and share them prior to the December tweetjam…and maybe I will finally get around to doing that this year. These are always the biggest tweetjam of the year, and with this year being the closing of our 10th year of running these community discussions, I think it would be worthwhile to dig through the Twitter archives….and possibly embarrass some people with their ghostly predictions of Christmas past 😉

As I was outlining my plans for the series on the M365 task ecosystem and where I think Microsoft should enhance these capabilities, it caused me to ponder on the future of the broader collaboration space. What is the future of the Digital Workplace? Will it just be more of the same, with incremental additions to what we already know and use, or will we see some truly revolutionary technology emerge in the coming years that will change the ways in which we work?

This is not so much a prediction list as an outline of ideas where I believe we are heading, areas where there is a lot of innovation happening, or where there are opportunities for innovation (largely within the partner ecosystem):

  • Shift from written to video/audio artifacts. Not that traditional documents will decrease, but more and more organizations will move to audio and video capture, as well as chat and threaded discussions. Most organizations have much work to do to incorporate email into their enterprise collaboration compliance and governance thinking, and are not even thinking yet about chat/conversations, audio and video content.
  • Automatic annotation and metadata capture of 4k and 8k streams. And this is the next logical step — automated ingestion, classification, and management of these new artifacts. But more than that, vendors and organizations alike will begin to embed critical data within the advanced data streams, allowing for richer interaction with this content.
  • Increasing reliance on the consumption of information through the Newsfeed. I feel like we’re still at the nascent stage of information consumption. We are still heavily reliant on an oft-underpowered search experience and poorly-managed information architecture problem in the enterprise. With so much data being created, we will need a next-gen newsfeed experience beyond “best bets” and corporate-curated news.
  • More personalization and automation responses through AI. Building on a new newsfeed experience, enterprise collaboration will become even more personalized and automated, with adaptive and intelligent apps and bots installing and configuring themselves based on our usage patterns and project needs.
  • Social tools that bridge the gaps between enterprise apps. Adaptive apps will also find their way into the social tools, bringing an additional layer of innovation to our cross-workload activities. Even seemingly disparate applications can be connected via social layers, allowing employees to carry conversations and context between systems. There is a burgeoning opportunity for apps and services that live specifically within these social threads.
  • Increased focus on personal and organizational health. And finally, these highly integrated systems and applications will provide us, and our organizations, a much more comprehensive view of our personal and organizational health and well-being. The long-term value to this focus will be our ability to better manage that elusive work-life balance, managers will be able to more closely monitor and manage employees and help them reach their potential while avoiding burnout. I realize that this is a huge category, and there’s lots of room for innovation — but I can assure you that this is where we are heading.

I may add to this list and expand in future posts, but per my usual stream-of-consciousness writing style, this is what is top of mind this afternoon, and covers most of the areas that I write and present on. I’m working on a parallel piece re: Microsoft Viva that touches on a few of these points, so watch for that. And I look forward to hearing more from the community on these topics in future #CollabTalk TweetJams, which anyone can join via Twitter each month. Be sure to follow me @buckleyplanet for the next topic, tweetjam date and time later this month.

Christian Buckley

Christian is the Microsoft GTM Director for AvePoint Inc., and a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He hosts the AvePoint Office 365 Hours (#O365hours) series, monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the #CollabTalk Podcast, and leads the monthly Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) live stream. He is based in Lehi, Utah (Silicon Slopes).