Editors’ Note: My TechDecision’s sister site has joined IMCCA’s Commercial Integrator, a New York-based nonprofit industry association for unified communications and workplace collaboration, to produce a quarterly supplement that focuses on multi-faceted collaboration. Together, the organizations launched the Partnership today and tomorrow.
When I was asked to write a piece for the initial issue of the IMCCA Collaboration Today and Tomorrow about the future of technology and how it would shape our lives, I thought about how difficult that task is. After all, few of us had a clear idea of how technology would be created on the Internet, the World Wide Web, and ubiquitous video conferencing would change our lives. And, if I could really foresee the future, maybe my time would be better spent on the stock market or in the lottery.
With that in mind, what I can share are insights into the trends that Metrigy sees in her research, and how we expect them to impact the workplace in the coming years. Every year, Metrigy collects data from hundreds of companies, including three- and five-year plans for technology spending and dissemination. Here are the areas I expect to see strong growth and impact on staff and consumer engagement.
Attention to employee experience
Employee experience has become a buzzword in the last year, regardless of where companies work to retain employees and foster a culture of collaboration and innovation. Employee experience initiatives are usually divided into two areas:
1. Understand how employees interact with each other (and with customers), as well as establish analytics and feedback mechanisms so that management understands employee happiness, job satisfaction, and well-being.
Collaborating vendors are increasingly providing feedback mechanisms, such as dashboards, to see how employees spend their days, and insights into the use of the collaboration tool. Other vendors provide “voice of the employee” feedback tools and platforms to build connections between teams, set collaborative goals, and ensure employees know what’s going on in the organization.
2. Ensuring optimal work experience through investments in high quality voice and video points.
This includes the use of business-grade devices, including headphones, speakers, and cameras, along with management tools to personalize how people use their devices. Here, AI can enable acoustic barriers rather than noise elimination, allowing for better backlight compensation and improved imaging.
Optimizing collaboration flows
In recent years, organizations have embraced a variety of collaborative applications, including video conferencing, group messaging, virtual whiteboards, work management, and more. However, in many cases these collaborative applications in the workplace are in silos, and employees spend a lot of time moving between them.
In the future, these applications and capabilities will continue to be integrated into internal and customer engagement in a workplace with the appropriate security and governance controls and the ability for employees to take advantage of low-code and non-coded tools. build their workflows to optimize what they do.
Exploration of augmented and virtual reality
The collaboration between AR and VR has been under discussion for almost 20 years since the launch of Second Life. Many companies have tried (and failed) to provide solutions that allow collaboration in virtual worlds, largely because technology was not easy to use, and because humans generally prefer to communicate directly with each other rather than with avatars.
However, several use cases have gained momentum, as have AR and VR uses in the gaming world. Today, companies can choose from a variety of solutions that go beyond what they can provide in a two-dimensional video conference and offer virtual product training capabilities.
Vendors and companies are investing in building a presence in the metaverse that offers the ability to create a virtual world that is truly interactive with the physical world. For remote employees, these types of engagements can be of great benefit, especially in terms of content handling, training, and the opportunity to take advantage of games to build social connections with remote colleagues. While I’m not ready to claim that VR glasses will replace the meeting app, I’m increasingly convinced of the role that AR and VR apps play in more and more use cases.
Finally, it is likely that the future will be driven by the need for flexibility. Millions of people have found that they can work remotely effectively, thus avoiding the time (and cost) spent on commuting. Although the impact of COVID-19 is diminishing, it has not disappeared, and the next variant of the concern could be in the corner.
In our research, the companies that choose the right job location and provide the right devices, management support, and employee feedback mechanisms are currently the ones that are getting the most value for collaborative investment, and are best placed to deal with what comes next. the future.