Increased cloud adoption, intensified collaboration, escalated interconnectivity, and an overhauled approach to corporate learning—2017 has been marked by rapid, relentless change.
These changes, however, are not independent of each other. Each and every one has been driven by people—by a larger effort to improve—even perfect—the employee and customer experience. In this post, we kick off our month-long series with a look back at some of 2017’s major workplace technology shifts and the role people have played in them.
Collaboration is a word that’s used often, but rarely understood. What’s the difference between collaboration and cooperation? What does it mean to truly collaborate? How can it drive better business outcomes and inspire innovation?
These are tough questions to answer, but a little less so thanks to workplace tech advancements in 2017. Of note:
- In late January, Slack, a once-scrappy collaboration service startup, introduced the Slack Enterprise Grid, a collaboration product designed for large organizations.
- In March, Microsoft made its Teams collaboration app available to Office 365 customers worldwide.
Both platforms rely on integration with other apps to enable users to co-create reports, documents, presentations, and other deliverables. Threaded conversations, centralized notifications, and mobile access provide users with immediate and easy retrieval of relevant information and critical conversations about projects.
The release of these two chat-based platforms signifies the growing demand for solutions that enable simple, powerful, real-time workplace collaboration. It also means business leaders have begun to understand that smart collaboration drives innovation and digital success.
There are many factors that can decrease workplace productivity, but there’s no doubt that silos are the worst offenders. Silos waste time, increase mistakes, and diminish employee engagement and satisfaction. Email, which has long been the standard of workplace communication, is a silo—most communication within it is one-to-one, it locks away important information in one or two employees’ inboxes, and “collaborating” with it often means app-switching, file attachments and document sprawl.
Thankfully, there’s been a shift toward a smarter, integrated way of getting things done. In 2017, a number of tech advancements demonstrated that integration is becoming an important element of any business technology ecosystem.
- Integration figures prominently into collaboration products like Slack and Microsoft Teams. Both platforms connect with other apps and services to enable document co-creation, threaded and searchable conversations, centralized notifications, and mobile access for immediate, easy retrieval of critical project information.
- In July, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced a new solution—Microsoft 365—that integrates Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise mobility and security under one platform.
Increased cloud adoption
Just a decade ago, many IT leaders viewed cloud computing as experimental, risky, and a likely source of disruption. Employees, however, saw it differently. They already understood how services like Google Apps and Dropbox could increase productivity in their personal lives—they wanted the same at work. The result was shadow IT, and a general loss of control by IT departments.
The cloud has come a long way in 10 years—it’s more mature and mainstream, and IT has begun to regain control of it. “For the past 10 years, cloud computing changed the expectations and capabilities of the IT department, but now it is a necessary catalyst for innovation across the company,” according to Gartner.
Recent statistics support that view. In an October news release, Gartner reported that 2016 software as a service (SaaS) revenue was greater than expected—$48.2 billion. In addition, Gartner noted that SaaS is growing faster in 2017 than previously forecast. This year’s expected SaaS revenue is $58.6 billion, a 21 percent increase over 2016.
The start of a learning and development overhaul
This year brought a new urgency for companies to assess and overhaul their learning and development (L&D) strategies—according to the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, it’s the second most important topic for CEOs and HR leaders.
In a series we ran in October, we examined the state of enterprise L&D from multiple angles. The modern workplace is now running on business applications like Office 365, Google Apps and Salesforce, we noted. And because these cloud-based solutions automatically update and provide feature enhancements, keeping talent productive is a huge undertaking for any training department.
Next week: We examine 2017 from the employee’s perspective.