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Digital Workplace Services is Enhancing Collaboration Across the Enterprise

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NelsonHall completed an in-depth analysis of advanced digital workplace services (DWS) in 2019. This blog looks at some of the key findings from this research, in which we spoke both to leading IT services vendors and clients of their services. We will also take a look at some of the drivers and trends we expect to see as we move into 2020 and beyond.

DWS is enabling the future-ready workplace

Organizations are placing greater emphasis on overall employee experience through the deployment of digital workplace services. In addition, the role of central IT is changing, adopting the role of a service broker to enable end-users to provision the services they need, when they want, and how they want. This is increasing the need for more personalized engagement models, including self-service (mobile support apps, virtual agents, chatbots, and knowledge articles). DWS is also driving the use of proactive and predictive engagements, including self-healing, AI and automation, and specialist onsite support through Tech Cafes and smart lockers, while utilizing AR/VR in the field for remote services.

A key development is the use of DWS tools and techniques across the entire organization, with examples including the use of chatbots and virtual agents in HR for onboarding and off-boarding activities. Gamification methods are being deployed across marketing and communications departments to drive engagement and adoption of services. In addition, there is greater integration with facilities management through the use of IoT-enabled devices and wayfinding solutions to drive smart office concepts.

Intelligent collaboration services & design thinking take personalization further

Vendors are developing social and collaboration platforms to integrate multiple platforms (including Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, Workplace by Facebook, G-Suite, Skype for Business, and Yammer) into one. This is driven by organizational requirements to enable employees to collaborate more effectively on projects through the platform of their choice, and improving overall UX. It also enables targeted communications to specific user groups or personas. We expect activity will ramp in this area, in particular as vendors partner more with disruptors in the market, including Google and AWS.

Many vendors are further utilizing consulting and advisory services to drive a collaborative design thinking approach to client engagements, to develop the digital workplace user experience. They are further investing in and developing dedicated design and digital studios in support of DWS initiatives. This also includes the use of immersive technologies, including AR/VR, to showcase ‘smart office’ capabilities.

Analytics is playing an even more critical role across DWS

Vendors are increasingly looking to use advanced data analytics, NLP, and ML tools to manage and analyze data, including Hadoop and Kafka, and DataRobot to evaluate different ML algorithms.

They are seeking to better understand the big data generated in the end-user environment and act on this data to stop issues in the first place, working out what to automate to drive the best outcome. This also includes the creation of automation scripts or bots to improve service quality pre-emptively.

Another key focus area is the use of end-user analytics tools, including Nexthink and Systrack, to improve end-user monitoring and overall UX. Vendors are collecting data from log files across the different devices deployed across the workplace and aggregating this data to get a view of patterns in data. This is then used to trigger actions to propose preventative measures to improve configuration and to predict, prevent, detect, and fix potential issues before they reach the service desk.

AI-led service desk initiatives are increasing

Many vendors are expanding capabilities in support of AI-led service desk to facilitate the move to a fully automated ‘zero-touch’ service desk capability. This includes automation and self-serve capabilities (IVR, RPA, chatbots, auto-scripts, biometric password reset capabilities, including fingerprint and face recognition).

A key focus includes the development of AI-based virtual agents, using NLP and acting as an L1 agent, learning from past data, and improving through ML. These are invariably a mix of IP and third-party solutions. If the virtual agent is unable to rectify, it may log a ticket on behalf of the end-user (whether incident or request), passing the data and intelligence collected to a specific L2/L3 resolver group. Vendors are also integrating common AI interfaces into VAs, including Siri, Cortana, and Skype for Business, to improve UX.

Self-healing ecosystems will enhance predictive capabilities further

As vendors gain more insights across the end-user environment through analytics and AI, it is enabling greater adoption of self-healing technologies and auto-remediation capabilities. Typical toolsets deployed include Nanoheal and Nexthink, enabling self-heal frameworks that run interactively, helping end-users fix their own issues, or providing agent-assisted services (for example, through ServiceNow to remotely fix issues, or run silently to address issues proactively). Vendors are building libraries of self-heal scripts and self-help including one-click automated solutions, knowledgebase articles, and invariably targeting self-healing at L0, L1, and L1.5 incidents.

Future developments

The DWS market will continue to evolve with demand for even deeper personalization of services driven by increasing workforce expectations across the enterprise. It will also be key to attracting and retaining new talent.

AI-led service desk will expand

The propensity to adopt AI, ML, analytics, and self-healing technologies will increase to facilitate the transition to an AI-led, zero-touch service desk with greater predictive and preventative capabilities to further improve both the end-user experience and employee experience across the entire enterprise. This also includes AI-enabled virtual agents utilizing ML and semantic analytics and enhancing use cases to deal with more complex support issues (L3 and above), and expanding VA capability across the enterprise.

In addition, we expect to see further development in areas including proactive mass healing (L2/3), with super-users within the service desk resolving data corrections or data validation errors with site reliability engineers (SREs) approving solutions offered by self-healing, although we anticipate this will be across a more protracted timeframe.

Microsoft MMD will gain traction

Although end-of-life support for Windows 7 kicked in on January 14, 2020, we expect there will still be considerable migration activity for the foreseeable future, with laggards moving to Windows 10, which provides added security along with device flexibility and improved UX.

We also foresee more traction with Microsoft Managed Desktop (MMD), enabling organizations to allow Microsoft to manage their Windows 10 devices, providing the latest versions of Windows 10 Enterprise edition, Office 365 ProPlus, and Microsoft security services. We also expect to see more uptake for Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure, enabling Windows 10 virtual desktops to run on the Azure platform; these will also provide a real alternative to Citrix.

Other developments will include increased provision of ‘aaS’ offerings for Windows and devices, and Evergreen services for Windows 10; and also, EUC as a Service (providing Win10, 0365, DaaS, and unified endpoint management) on a price per-user basis.

IoT-enabled smart buildings will increase

We expect vendors will further enhance their capabilities in support of workplace IoT across the smart office (utilizing beacons, sensors and wayfinding solutions) for smart meeting rooms, reservations, facilities, space management; and expanding field services through AR/VR for asset tracking and worker safety, and remote technical support – in addition to using AR/VR for immersive learning, training, and development.

Greater focus on XLAs and business outcomes

It is likely we will also see greater adoption of business outcome-focused XLAs, which include end-user journey quality, zero-time-to-fix where incidents are avoided, measuring digital adoption (end-user satisfaction, engagement, omnichannel, number of liked and shared knowledge articles).

We anticipate vendors will focus on developing dedicated digital transformation centers and CoEs in areas including AI, ML, automation, data science, cognitive virtual agents, and NLP bots/chatbots – in addition to creating joint R&D capabilities and go-to-market initiatives with key ecosystem partners.

Market disruption

Finally, we expect Amazon and Google will continue to become major disruptors in the DWS market, already evidenced by a number of recent collaboration initiatives with vendors.

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