2015 wrap up & what's hot for 2016?

In this year’s festive wrap-up event, we discussed the hottest Digital Workplace trends of 2015, the biggest Microsoft releases and what to expect for 2016. We’ve wrapped up our biggest findings for you in this blog to get you in the know for next year’s initiatives. Enjoy!

A mountain full of snow with a sunset in the background to indicate a year of digital workplace predictions

The Biggest Trends of 2015

#1. The Journey To A Digital Workplace

We’ve seen the phrase ‘The Digital Workplace’ flooding back into the enterprise space over the last year and its use as a strategy towards better employee engagement and communication. There are a huge range of definitions of a Digital Workplace floating about, but in light of the requests our clients have come to us with over the last year, we’re defining a Digital Workplace Strategy as “the process of unifying how your business operates and communicates through a common digital platform of tools and services. This will improve staff engagement, operational efficiency, product delivery and your customers’ expectations”. For more on our thoughts on Digital Workplace take a look at our blog here. We believe your intranet can be at the heart of this, enabling you to make use of a platform the majority of us already have. This leads us onto our next trend…

#2. The Enriched Intranet

Despite the ongoing rumour that the intranet will fade from relevancy year after year, in 2015 we’ve seen the intranet grow exponentially in importance. With new technologies that enhance intranets, the capability to streamline processes through integrations and the ability to break down silos, the intranet can be a central platform for all digital activity, if utilised effectively. You can take your intranet from Traditional to Enriched through behaviours like social, mobile, presence, gamification, personalisation, targeting and translation – opening up the intranet to drive two-way conversation and new collaboration. The next step is using your Enriched intranet as the gateway to your Digital Workplace. This can be simply done by creating links to core applications that your employees use, then as time goes on you can integrate further and more deeply with the most important platforms.

#3. The User Experience Gap

User Experience and its importance to the success of enterprise technology has also been a massive trend this year. The enterprise are finally starting to take note of how frustrations with technology in the workplace affect output and engagement. This year we have seen a massive increase in clients coming to us with user experience and design at the forefront of their minds to try and combat this. Our retail clients in particular are looking for solutions that have the same quality of user experiences that they provide for their consumers digitally. Without good user experience, the Digital Workplace won’t succeed.

#4. It’s All As-a-Service

The last major trend we want to touch on is the new way of consuming enterprise technology which has exploded onto the scene in the past couple of years thanks to the capabilities of the cloud. There’s positives and negative to this in our eyes. As-A-Service can offer a fantastic option for organizations if their needs are similar to the rest of the marketplace. It also makes great products accessible for everyone, with manageable pricing. It also tackles the age long problem of technology becoming out of date and organizations having to invest a large capital in order to get the technology back in line with their processes. They are evergreen, supported with updates and new versions as part of the package and somebody else does all the heavy lifting to keep it running and working for you. However, if it doesn’t allow for customizations, you’re pretty much stuck conforming to the vendors’ idea of user experience and functionality, and this might not always be right for you.

The Biggest Microsoft Releases in 2015

2015 was also a busy year for Microsoft and a lot of their releases align to the major themes we’re talking about. Some of the Microsoft releases you should be aware of from this year include:

SharePoint 2016

Microsoft announced the SharePoint 2016 preview this year, a commitment to continued support for on-premises solutions. This release was all about Hybrid experiences, bringing the best of cloud functionality into on-premises environments, for those who aren’t ready to move to the cloud. Check out our blog on the need to know features of SharePoint 2016 for more on the versions new features and focuses.

Microsoft Graph

One of the biggest Office 365 developments of the year is the long awaited release of Microsoft Graph. In our opinion, it’s one of the most exciting developments to come out of Microsoft in a long time. The Graph allows you to access Microsoft cloud based services through a single endpoint. No longer do you need to query a separate endpoint for Exchange, SharePoint, One Drive etc. This has all been centralised under a single RESTful API.

This functionality puts you at the centre of all these services, allowing you to navigate between entities and relationships as needed. They also expose the Graph to machine learning, resulting in access to intelligence and insights about how you and the people around you work. As you and your colleagues access files, send emails and arrange meetings, signals are sent to Microsoft Graph so that it can form a better picture of you and your circles of influence. Delve is Microsoft’s product that can display this information in a visually engaging way for employees and if you have Office 365, you can start utilising it straight away.

What's next for Unily?

We can't talk Microsoft developments without throwing ourselves in their can we? The Unily product has seen some fantastic innovations and enhancements over the past year. Based on the developments we’ve seen this year, we’ve come up with our predictions for 2016. Here’s what you need to know when planning your 2016 enterprise tech initiatives.

#1. The Information of Everything

We’ve all heard of the Internet of Things - a collection of objects, or things, embedded with connectivity, enabling these objects to collect and exchange data, creating opportunities between the real world and software running on devices. This has gone from concept to reality quickly, but many still ask what does ‘connected’ mean and why should they connect everything? .

According to Gartner, by 2020, 25 billion devices will be generating data about almost every topic imaginable. This creates both opportunity and challenges. There will be a plethora of data, but making sense of it will be key. We believe that the companies that are able to harness the power of this tidal wave of information will leapfrog competitors in the process. .

To an increasing extent, organizations will need to use technology to not only collect information, but learn based upon it. This is what we mean by The Information of Everything. In the process, much of the initial analysis that has typically required a human can be done by software (such as Delve and advanced analytics that we have in Unily), elevating the analysis in the process. .

We really believe that the long-term benefits in terms of boosting productivity and making smart business decisions will be profound. .

#2. Age of the Employee

We've all heard it's the Age of the Consumer, but what about your employees? Empowered employees are shaping business strategy. Simply put, employees expect consistent and high-value in-person and digital experiences. They don't care if building these experiences is hard or requires a complex, multifunction approach from across the organization. They want immediate ability to be effective in what they do and will go elsewhere if it can’t be provided. .

Yet getting everyone to make this happen within your organization isn't so simple. It requires common insights so that various functions understand the customer, the market dynamic, and products/services that the business offers, through a similar lens. Strong alignment accelerates success. Poor alignment creates confusion, delays, and competitive risk.

The trends around the digital workplace described earlier are just the start of the process here but are crucially fundamental for our next generation of employees.

#3. Bring Your Own Device Find Balance

We think enterprise adoption of BYOD will increase with the introduction of new ‘enterprise-ready’ devices and services. Mobile management has been impacting enterprises for years, and as we predicted last year, Microsoft has made heavy investments in this area.

Mobile optimisation will be at the heart of application development in 2016. Enterprise-ready devices and services will be introduced from all of the major vendors, each with bigger screens, lighter footprints and more connectivity options. Many of you will have seen the new Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950XL devices recently released.

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