2022 Tech Landscape: Trending Tools for the Digital Workplace
The rapid shift to a digital workplace that began in response to the pandemic in 2020 continued unabated in 2021. Between fully remote companies and those using a hybrid model, digital transformation has become a priority for many organizations. According to Flexera’s 2021 State of Tech Spend Report, 56 percent of CIOs cited it as their major tech priority.
Digital transformation and cloud initiatives aren’t expected to slow down in 2022 either. Here's a look at some of the trends impacting the digital workplace and where companies will be allocating their resources.
Key Digital Workplace Technology Trends
A few notable trends will likely characterize the 2022 digital workplace tech landscape. Among them:
Adopting a Best-of-Breed Approach
The rush by organizations to deploy applications and work-from-home tools to cope with the rapid shift to remote work led to a proliferation of tools that have since resulted in the creation of content and data silos. Two years later, companies now recognize these fragmented systems and the new set of challenges they have created for users.
Scott McVeigh, industry principal at knowledge integration platform Onna in New York, said finding a resolution to this problem will be a big trend in 2022. "The days of single suite content and collaboration experiences are long gone, with organizations now looking to best-of-breed applications to help their employees work most effectively," he said.
Vendors will need to adapt their solutions to help users find the information they need. That may mean using open APIs to create stronger integrations with other best-of-breed apps, teaming up with enterprise search providers, or connecting to knowledge management platforms that aggregate workplace data in one place, McVeigh said. The bottom line is enterprises will need to get rid of their suite of walled-off solutions and leverage best-of-breed technologies instead.
Improving Cloud-based Collaboration
Cloud technology is at the center of remote work, and in 2022, we can expect more collaboration than ever before in that space. "Because so many companies now have fully remote or hybrid operations, cloud-based collaboration tools will be at the forefront in 2022," said Ray Blakney, CEO and co-founder of online language school Live Lingua.
Cloud-based collaboration tools are essential for sharing files and managing content, among other tasks. One example is the Google Suite of products (e.g., Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, etc.) that is popular in the digital workplace. Blakney said we can expect other tools that facilitate collaboration, such as Dropbox, to roll out new features that improve existing capabilities and integrate easily to further support remote and hybrid teams in their cloud activities.
Related Article: Why Enterprises Won't Ditch Collaboration Platforms Anytime Soon
Transitioning to Ubiquitous Computing
Another pivotal trend for the digital workplace in 2022 is expected to be ubiquitous computing. Ubiquitous computing stems from the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) and means computers will be found in everyday devices.
Microsoft's Satya Nadella, at the company's Future Ready conference on January 11, made headlines when he said, "We're moving from a mobile and cloud era to an era of ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence."
According to Ben Miller, founder of UK-based digital marketing agency Focus On Digital, this trend "could potentially allow for a more streamlined and simplified workplace through the use of ever-present digital assistants."
Increasing Automation to Improve Employee Experience
With more IoT-connected devices and a need to simplify common tasks, there is likely to be more investment in digital workplace tools that increase productivity by automating tasks and workflows. Ultimately, these solutions will be critical to improving the employee experience, which, in turn, will drive organizational success.
AI and Collaboration Tools Drive Investment
Companies looking to gain a competitive edge will most likely seek to invest in products and technologies that align with these trends. AI assistants and collaboration tools will be the most popular and substantial investments this year, according to some.
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Digital and AI assistants have become important components of our everyday lives. For Miller’s team, that is one of the reasons why they're likely to be a key area of investment in 2022.
Investing in this technology "will allow a company’s staff to have an individualized AI assistant that remembers information about the employee and [what] the employee typically works on," Miller said.
Plus, as these tools learn more about specific employees, they will be able to personalize the digital workplace based on each worker's unique work preferences.
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For Blakney, investments will likely occur mainly in the collaboration space. "We will continue using all of the software and cloud-based collaboration tools we’ve been using before," he said, "They have worked very well for us."
Tools in this category cover a broad spectrum from project and knowledge management software to online communication and collaboration platforms. With tighter integrations via APIs, collaboration tools are likely to become more tightly integrated into people's daily work.
Bonus: Asynchronous Technology
Asynchronous tools are important for the digital workplace. They enable remote and distributed teams to communicate and collaborate more effectively.
This is likely to be another area of interest in 2022, especially for companies with significant time differences among team members because, according to Miller, these tools are practical "for tasks that are not time-sensitive, such as answering email queries, creating marketing videos, collaborating on documents, [and] allowing for more fluid communication without the need for immediate answers or responses."
2020 and 2021 were transformational for the digital workplace. The 2022 tech landscape will continue to be shaped by the ways technology can improve the employee experience, boost ROI and facilitate collaboration.