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As 2024 gets underway, things are switched up for this latest episode of Digital Workplace Impact. Our usual host, Nancy Goebel, takes the hot seat to be interviewed by DWG’s Director of Knowledge, Shimrit Janes. The session’s focus? DWG’s top 10 predictions for the digital workplace in the year ahead.
And just what could these megatrends be? If content is king, will data be queen? Will digital workplace impact be assessed using AI-powered insights? Is search dead? And, what’s likely to be ahead for digital workplace leaders? Nancy also reflects on how well the predictions for 2023 performed.
This lively discussion sets out to spark ambition and debate, and to really help people think about what might come next. And wrapping up this crystal ball of ideas is this year’s super prediction, that in the midst of all the hype surrounding opportunities such as AI, digital workplace practitioners will use the basics as a guide and go back to the future.
So, if you’re navigating the fast-changing world of the digital workplace, join Nancy and Shimrit to explore fascinating industry insights and uncover more on the possibilities ahead.
Digital Workplace Impact Episode 133: DWG’s 2024 predictions for the digital workplace
[00:00:00.090] – Nancy Goebel
To my mind, AI is just the latest to go through what we see as a tried and true digital workplace framework, that actually takes us back to the future.
You know what, I love that. As soon as you said dial up, I got such a flash back to hearing the sound and to jumping on MSN messenger after school.
[00:01:37.550] – Nancy Goebel
This episode of Digital Workplace Impact brings you something slightly different, and that comes in the form of a special guest host, Shimrit Janes, DWG’s Director of Knowledge. Yes, it’s quite unusual for us, but giving credit where credit is due, Shimrit suggested that it might be interesting for her to interview me as a special way of unveiling DWG’s 2024 predictions for the digital workplace.
[00:02:07.510] – Nancy Goebel
And we did just that. As Shimrit put it, it was her chance to put me in the hot seat. This is Nancy Goebel, DWG’s Chief Executive and the regular host of Digital Workplace Impact. And as always, this podcast is brought to you by Digital Workplace Group. Join me now in conversation with Shimrit about all things predictions for the digital workplace. Happy listening.
[00:02:35.570] – Nancy Goebel
Shimrit. I can’t believe you’re back in the studio to help me cap off another exciting year of predictions for the digital workplace. I always love when you step into the studio, but typically you’re the one who’s coming in to share insights, whether it’s because there’s a new piece of research that you’ve worked on, some new thought leadership, a new book, the list goes on. Today we’re going to do something a little different.
[00:03:11.070] – Shimrit Janes
I am so excited for this. I am so excited to put you in the hot seat and to flip the roles and thank you so much as well for trusting me to have this conversation together and inviting me in with you.
[00:03:28.370] – Nancy Goebel
Well, the pleasure is all mine, truly. And so I know that it can be interesting to try to do a session like this solo as the host and also the subject of the podcast. And so having you as my partner in crime today is, I think, going to be a lot of fun.
[00:03:52.750] – Shimrit Janes
Yeah, absolutely. I am ready when you are.
[00:03:56.330] – Nancy Goebel
Let’s jump in.
[00:03:57.360] – Shimrit Janes
Let’s do it. And so I am so delighted to be talking to you about these predictions and what you have gathered together for 2024. They’re such a crucial part of the DWG calendar. But before we get into them, I love an origin story. I love them. And you know me, I’m a historian at heart. I love to hear about the lineage and the ancestry of ideas. And so I thought we would start with the origin of DWG’s annual predictions, if you can share that story.
[00:04:34.230] – Nancy Goebel
With pleasure. And so I’d say to start that it’s just really hard to believe that 2024 marks the 10th edition of the digital workplace predictions. And in fact, DWG is an organization that’s been doing a lot of crystal ball gazing as early as 2008 when Paul Miller, then CEO, launched the first set of intranet predictions. But as you know, we underwent some changes from our early years where we were the Intranet Benchmarking Forum, to then becoming the Digital Workplace Group. And so the predictions had to evolve with that in mind. And so in 2014, we kicked off the first generation of predictions. And I have to say along the way, there have been some highs and lows because with every generation of predictions, you not only put them forward, but you have to reflect on how those predictions have fared. And so I think when I look back, at least at the digital workplace history of predictions, those highs and lows have been interesting markers for us. In 2018, the predictions hit an all time high of eight and a half out of ten, because, of course there are ten predictions plus a super prediction.
[00:06:08.730] – Nancy Goebel
And then I don’t think it would surprise many to hear that we actually hit a low point during the height of COVID in 2020 when we were down to six out of ten. And this year, I’m proud to say for 2023, we actually achieved an eight out of ten. I termed two of them as clunkers, but I think that’s probably a bit too bold. But they were predictions around the metaverse and initiatives to look at ESG initiatives vis a vis digital workplace. And of course, that was eclipsed for both because of this meteoric rise of generative AI. I think, you know, the idea of predictions are not unique to DWG or to the digital workplace industry, and I think it’s important to say why we do them in the first place. DWG is uniquely positioned to talk to lots of practitioners and providers in our circles day to day. Whether part of DWG’s member forum or part of our wider industry circles, the predictions really represent an embodiment of the patterns that we see and are a way for us to help create a line of sight not only for our members, but also for the industry at large.
[00:07:47.240] – Nancy Goebel
And again, spanning providers and practitioners. And I had the pleasure of unveiling the predictions to our members this year back in it’s been a little over a month ago now. I guess it was five weeks ago when we were in the studio together talking predictions. I think it’s something based on the feedback from the members that do a number of things. Yes, they help create a line of sight around what we think the megatrends will be, but really they’re meant to spark ambition, to instigate discussion and debate, to help people with forward thinking. And sometimes there’s even a healthy dose of debate within our circles to sometimes tweak or reshape the predictions. This year I was really pleased to see that they held up really well in the member preview session. And I remember being struck by the gif wars that emerged in the chat panel, if you remember, and there was just a lot of great energy from the members reacting to the predictions, amplifying the messages, tying them to what they meant for their organizations. And I think that was probably a first for a DWG member event. A gif war.
[00:09:15.270] – Shimrit Janes
I can heartily say I participated in the gif war. It was a great way of kind of demonstrating and expressing our reactions to what we were hearing. So yeah, the gif wars were absolutely a fun part of that session and I just want to go back and pick up on something that you shared around the process. I think when we talk about predictions, we talk about futurism and future gazing. There can sometimes be a sense that it is kind of sticking your finger up in the air and kind of getting a gut feel for which way the wind is blowing. But from what you’ve described, it’s a much more in depth process. And I know that sense making is something that we talk about within DWG. It’s a key part of our member meetings. For example, we always try and make sure we have time for collective sense making, and so I would love to hear more about the process. What process do you use for curating the predictions?
[00:10:21.270] – Nancy Goebel
That’s a wonderful question and one that just sparks a smile for me because I’m part sponge. I just absorb information from lots of different places. And I remember when Paul passed the baton from authoring the predictions to me. We talked about the fact that we do have this unique position, not only because of the benchmarking that we do, the research that we do, the conversations that we have with practitioners and providers, couple that with someone like me who’s a sponge. I’m just steeped in anything and everything that I can read about what’s going on in our industry. And I know you know this, I curate a lot of what I read in an app called Flipboard, which happens to be a way of bookmarking articles and blogs and videos that are of interest. And it actually compiles a very visual electronic magazine that you can refer back to over time. And so I’m thinking about the predictions year round, believe it or not. And sometimes I’ll just, in the middle of doing something, I’ll have an idea that sparks and I’ll come up with something that’s sort of like a one liner that encapsulates an idea and I’ll send it to myself very often over email if I’m on the move so I don’t lose it in the moment.
[00:12:04.550] – Nancy Goebel
And then when I actually sit down to write the predictions, I reference in my catalogue brain all of these headlines that I’ve documented and start to go back and say of these, which ones do I really think will take a lead role in the coming year? And so again, there are ten predictions and then we have a wrapper or a super prediction that helps tie everything together. So lots of data coming through, lots of insights coming through day to day. And it’s a process of refining over time through conversations with key people on the DWG team, whether it’s you, because I know we had a few conversations about the predictions or our member advisors, our Director of Research, as well as talking to lots of members, current prospective alumni across the board, and then really refining them. And one of the things I try to do is make them interesting and tweetable at the highest level because I just think that’s what helps make them memorable and make them stand out in the process.
[00:13:24.130] – Shimrit Janes
I love that. And I love how much of a blend it seems to be of art and science because so much of what you said reminded me of, for example, the process of creativity, where you’re just kind of feeding yourself and feeding your subconscious and allowing it to percolate. And then at different moments you’ll get those sparks. But then there’s the science behind it, of the research and the gathering and the refinement and making sure you’ve pulled in this diverse group of perspectives. I think the diversity of the people that contribute really came through so strongly for me there, and it speaks to the performance. I guess we’re going to see how this time next year we’ll see how you’ve performed. But eight out of ten for 2023’s predictions is a nice high waterline to be aiming for. Just before we delve into the predictions for next year, was there anything around, the more around the performance that you wanted to spotlight that has surprised you around how they’ve performed over the years?
[00:14:30.170] – Nancy Goebel
Well, I do have to say that I was really surprised when I first sat down, I thought maybe a seven out of ten. And historically, the way we’ve done the scoring, we’ve allotted for half marks, nothing below that. And this year I just remember being struck by how much alignment there was between the predictions and what we were seeing happening in and around our circles. And there were even I didn’t use the term generative AI, but I certainly talked about the importance of intelligent digital assistance in a number of different ways. And that’s now manifested itself with the rise of ChatGPT and generative AI. So it’s been interesting to see that foreshadowing was right on point. But I decided not to give partial marks for the metaverse and ESG initiatives because I just felt that they probably could have been quarter points. But I figured that it would be bold to instigate some conversation about those two topic areas going into the new year by terming them clunkers. So sometimes you have to be bold in the language that you use to instigate a new level of conversation. So that was my thinking there.
[00:16:06.860] – Shimrit Janes
And to be provocative. And I know on the ESG side, I’m the researcher who’s going to be doing a paper next year for us looking at ESG and the digital workplace. So it’ll be really interesting to see, even though that was a clunker for 2023, will that research and the conversation hopefully instigate some useful conversation and thinking? And then on the metaverse side, do you anticipate it emerging again at some point, or do you feel like it’s dead for the digital workplace?
[00:16:43.650] – Nancy Goebel
I don’t think it’s dead. I certainly see there are pockets of organizations that are using elements of the metaverse, but at the moment it’s certainly not of the size and scale of what we’re seeing from a generative AI standpoint. I think you’ll feel it reemerge in one of the predictions in a different way when we talk through a few of the highlights. So I’ll plant that seed and I’ll leave that for a little bit later.
[00:17:17.660] – Shimrit Janes
I think I know which one you’re talking about, and if it is one, it’s an area that is also near and dear to my heart, just from a personal gaming perspective. But anyway,
[00:17:29.600] – Nancy Goebel
Ding, ding, ding.
[00:17:30.680] – Shimrit Janes
Just a little teaser there for everyone.
[00:17:33.890] – Nancy Goebel
[00:17:34.420] – Shimrit Janes
Without further ado, actually, what do you envision for digital workplaces in 2024? Talk us through at a high level kind of what you have predicted.
[00:17:44.930] – Nancy Goebel
So I’ll give you the headlines because I’m sure they’re going to be a handful that you want to explore in detail. So I’ll run one through ten and I’ll save the super prediction for a little bit later. But the first is content may be king, but data is the new queen. The second is the next big thing for digital employee experience will be shaping relational experiences. The third is digital workplace impact will be assessed using aipowered strategic insights. The fourth is that citizen developers are poised for burst in innovation. So I think of the citizen developers a lot like a movement. The fifth is that AI proliferation will abound and digital workplace teams need to help employees find their way. The 6th is digital leadership will level up with the help of aipowered digital assistants. Number seven is search is dead, long live findability. Number eight is in addition to extending AI and cloud capabilities, Microsoft 365 will build up their gaming productivity and accessibility capabilities. Number nine is digital workplace leaders will start the year as chaos coordinators and finish it off as outriders. And then number ten, last but not least is that digital workplace teams will need to balance cost cutting with delivering impact so digital employee experience doesn’t suffer.
[00:19:40.570] – Shimrit Janes
Just going to take a moment to breathe that in. It’s such a rich list of predictions and I can totally see having been in member meetings and Ask DWG sessions and live events with our members and seeing the conversations, I can see so well how that’s a mirror and a kind of amplification of the conversations and the challenges we’ve been hearing over the last year. And it’s such a mix of kind of digital workplace classics, if you know what I mean, and kind of oldies but goodies that are perpetually challenges but with a new twist, but then also so much space for the emergent and it’s such a nice balance of those two things. And so let’s go deeper, like you said, let’s go deeper into some of the predictions, and I wanted to start with prediction number one, which was content is king, but data is the new queen, and I’m really intrigued with the wording you’ve chosen for that. So can you tell us more about what that means?
[00:20:50.130] – Nancy Goebel
Yeah, absolutely. So I’d say in every conversation that we’ve ever had about the digital workplace, content is at the center, and the term content is king has been used for a long, long time in our circles. But I would say that when I think about the age of artificial intelligence coming into play and taking us beyond the levels of personalization of content that we’ve seen, the wrapper that we put around that content, i.e. the data, is what will really help shape the kinds of answers that are being surfaced by artificial intelligence. If we think of content almost like a Rubik’s cube that we need to twist and turn, depending on what we’re trying to answer, whether it’s challenge, whether it’s new insight, whether it’s how to get something done, AI needs to be able to really slice and dice that content, to be able to not only surface the answer to the immediate question that’s been asked, but also to prompt additional thinking by surfacing related information and related questions. And so the two absolutely need to work hand in glove. And again, I thought the play on words there was also very timely, given some of the changes that had happened in the UK over the past year within the royal family.
[00:22:38.960] – Nancy Goebel
So I was thinking about lots of things, believe it or not, all while writing the prediction. And so I think the challenge for digital workplace practitioners in particular, is that in order for us to really start to leverage data driven decision making in this age of AI, digital workplace practitioners really need to level up on data management practices, and so AI can’t solve for that on its own. We have to think about, as an industry, how we preserve a single source of truth for data, how we keep data clean, how we ensure that tagging and storage and data lineage all are cared after that, we train employees and stakeholders on how to use data and how to nurture that data and how to measure and monitor the impact that content and data have. So tying it back to your upcoming research and to keep things like data access, data privacy, data security policies front and center, we know that there have been some big scares, with Samsung being one example in the early, early days of AI, where people were surfacing confidential information, proprietary information, in very public channels. And so having those structures around the data from top to bottom is a whole new skill set that is really being taken to a next level state, I would say, for digital workplace teams in 2024.
[00:24:28.250] – Shimrit Janes
And it’s something I think we’ve seen reflected already in our research program from 2023 where we were looking at, we had a whole report on metrics and data and starting to become more literate with how to work with data. But it also speaks to me. I’m going to share something I recently learned, and it was the idea of data as being embodied, and I heard that and it kind of lit a light bulb for me. And it was this idea that data comes from our bodies, from our actions as we move around digital realms. But often data itself is seen as something separate to us and the people who create it. And it’s kind of treated as over there while the users are over here. And the reason I bring that up here is, as you were speaking, it brings to mind for me as well, the question of ethics. And so how will it be important for digital workplace practitioners to become literate in digital ethics alongside that question of prediction of data being the new queen.
[00:25:38.030] – Nancy Goebel
I think there’s absolutely no question that that has to be part of the fabric of this new landscape, because even things as simple as how you frame a question or how a source of information has been framed can all impact the answers that are surfaced. And so there’s a responsibility on the part of digital workplace practitioners, organizations to make sure that things are being managed in such a way that information is shared in a way that is inclusive for all, is used properly, used for the right reasons, is used ethically. And I think we need to have a focus in organizations to make sure that’s very present in how we interpret changing roles in organizations. So that there’s a duty of care at an operator level, meaning the employees, at a stakeholder level, meaning leadership, and then at a digital workplace practitioner level, the guardians of the galaxy, so to speak, to ensure that it’s not just about making sure that the data is clean, but that all the right considerations are made to ensure that things like bias, ethical considerations, inclusivity are all foundational.
[00:27:26.670] – Shimrit Janes
Fantastic. And we can obviously spotlight the digital ethics paper that came out this year for people who want to find out more about that and just to pay credit. That idea of data being embodied is one I heard from somebody called Chenai Chair, so we couldn’t spotlight her. So I’m changing gear now. So many of our members and listeners use some or all of the Microsoft stack. It’s so prevalent for the digital workplace and Microsoft and their decision making and their roadmap have just a huge impact through new features and capabilities that are rolling out all the time. And so prediction eight was about Microsoft 365. And so I would love to hear what you’ve seen emerging in that roadmap for 2024 that led to that prediction.
[00:28:17.250] – Nancy Goebel
Yeah, well, I think it’s a given that Microsoft has gone big and bold on AI and cloud capabilities on their roadmap and are looking for ways to power innovative apps and drive digital transformation. But what I think is less well known is that Microsoft entered into the gaming arena in a bold new way when they acquired Activision Blizzard last year, and it’s sparked lots of discussion about how Microsoft might bring gaming into the world of productivity tools. And so they took a first step and launched something called games for work to help with team building and collaboration. And Microsoft Teams also now supports multiple apps, and I suspect that library will continue to build, one example being something called Incentives apps, which allows organizations to gamify adoption management and change management activities, and third party gamification apps can now be brought into the Microsoft apps library. So things like Spinify, which allow organizations to track employee progress and compare that to other employees view goals, things like rewards. And for those of us who have been longstanding members of the DWG benchmarking team, we love a leaderboard or a league table. And then this capability can also track upcoming targets because targets may change in the course of performance year.
[00:30:08.630] – Nancy Goebel
And so getting people to think differently by leveraging elements of gaming to not only draw productivity but also bring teams together and create some healthy competition to help everyone level up, seem to be becoming more part of the Microsoft ecosystem, but not necessarily getting the same level of play as things like AI and cloud right now. And I think that we’ll continue to see further adaptations from the gaming world. And I think the 3d immersive experiences launching in the new year like Mesh will start to bring in some of what we’ve been thinking about talking about relative to the metaverse. So I think slightly different application for that can be in the offing. And then the other part of this prediction centered around accessibility, and I think that’s going to continue to be another focus for Microsoft. They launched a new inclusive tech lab earlier in 2023 and Microsoft doesn’t make light investments. So it’s apparent that play will mean that they are going to go to greater lengths to ensure that the apps and services that they’re delivering will have best in class accessibilities, capabilities built into them, and ultimately try to or strive to ensure that everyone can create, can communicate, can collaborate with all of the support, assistive technologies, in other words, and other capabilities to just really try to make sure that everyone can bring their whole selves to the workplace every day and leverage the M 365 toolbox goodie box.
[00:32:20.220] – Shimrit Janes
This is such a fascinating and exciting area to be thinking about. And it’s so interesting because the whole gaming aspect is, I remember in 2016 writing an article for DWG around how I wish the digital workplace was more like a video game in 2016. And I remember as well, we went through a phase where in our member meetings, gamification seemed to be coming up all the time. And then it just kind of flittered away and hasn’t been mentioned in so long. And yet that investment that you speak of and the work that Microsoft is now doing about bringing some of those principles and technologies into the world of work are so fascinating because the gaming industry is huge and there are so many innovations. I know, I remember reading Ubisoft doing some fascinating work around accessibility for gaming, bringing those two areas together. And so this prediction is just, it’s going to be so interesting to see how it evolves. And do you think, to what extent do you think that we’re starting to see the kind of younger generations coming into the workforce now? To what extent is that impacting or influencing some of these moves?
[00:33:43.110] – Nancy Goebel
Well, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head basically by asking the question, we need to evolve ways of working to support how all generations bring their best selves to work. And gamification is one way to do that. Some people cut their teeth on laptops, some people cut their teeth in the gaming world. So needing to think holistically about the fact that in the learning paradigm, you have visual learners, auditory learners, kinesthetic learners. This gaming space is introducing the idea that there are different ways to build your skills in an organization and make your contributions from a productivity standpoint, from a learning and innovation standpoint. So this is another way, another channel for helping bring out the best in individuals who grew up with gaming in a very big way.
[00:34:55.950] – Shimrit Janes
And it really challenges that boundary. I think of this is work and this is play, and there’s a binary there. And actually there is so much to be learned from the worlds of play and bringing them into work. It’s going to be really exciting. I’m excited for this prediction and just to see what emerges and to see how it gets scored this time next year as well. Okay. And so I’m going to move on. And we’ve put it off for long enough. We’ve mentioned AI a couple of times already, and I think four of your predictions explicitly refer to AI. And there’s obviously elements of it in the others. And so tell me what role you see AI playing for digital workplaces in 2024.
[00:35:44.430] – Nancy Goebel
There are many areas to explore here, for sure. Shim just thinking about things. Part of what came as inspiration was an experience I had actually not long before we did the unveiling of the predictions with the members. I happened to go on LinkedIn, excuse me, and I happened to have messages in my inbox. I went into one of the messages, and for the first time on LinkedIn, I had a prompt that said, would you like our AI assistant to help you write a response back to this LinkedIn connection? And I remember this wasn’t here the day before, but it’s certainly here now. What does that mean for the digital workplace? And so this idea that proliferation was going to abound came as a really clear theme for me. And literally, as I’ve been talking to members, they’ve been talking about the fact that there was very much priority to lock things down early on so that organizations could try to figure out what are our policies, how are we going to govern this? How do we make sure that people are safe and that we don’t bleed IP out of the organization inadvertently? All the questions that members were asking through Ask DWG.
[00:37:11.370] – Nancy Goebel
And so when any technology proliferates, it has an impact on the employee experience. And so how do we, as digital workplace practitioners, need to support our employees as this change comes at us in rapid fire manner? Because there is no guarantee that if you ask the same question of different aspects of AI, that you’re going to get the same answers. So how do you ensure that people can act with confidence and clarity and make the right decisions along the way? So, governance, data management, all the things that we talk about day to day inside of our circles really have added importance at this particular point in time. So that’s one theme. Another theme is that organizations are saying that AI is going to become a way for them to operate differently, whether smaller, leaner, more agile, more intelligently. And ultimately, for any initiative to thrive, it has to start with leadership. And so that just led me to think that digital leadership would need to start to morph as part of this new paradigm, and that the rise of digital assistance in the AI arena could really be an enabler for leaders to help support some of the important but low value tasks that sometimes take away from your ability to spend more time thinking big thoughts or planning, or bringing your team together to solidify that glue or whatever other high value activities they could be working on.
[00:39:13.460] – Nancy Goebel
So years ago, leaders had assistants working closely with them. And as organizations have restructured, some of that has gone away and people had to take those things back on themselves. And AI can act as a digital assistant that follows you around and helps you take some of the load off of the basic things that you need to do day to day. But also it can put more powerful information in your hands so that you can make more data driven decisions. Yes, at a leadership level, but extend that to teams, whether they are working teams or digital workplace teams at large. And I think this idea of assistance give you performance capacity. But then the data driven side of AI actually allows you to make thoughtful, well informed decisions more quickly. And so the combination of the two means, in a sense, that you get to redefine what leadership looks like, because it’s not just about having direct reports or P and L responsibility or what have you. Leadership can be about people who create a sphere of influence and help move a business agenda forward. I think that’s an exciting side to things. And we also know, finally, that capabilities like the power apps inside of Microsoft 365 gave birth to a pretty robust citizen development movement.
[00:41:06.860] – Nancy Goebel
And AI is actually helping enable citizen developers in bold new ways so that they don’t have to necessarily have deep technical understanding or troubleshooting capabilities. AI can help build code and help debug code based on questions that citizen developers and IT developers ask alike. But I think in the realm of digital workplace, we need to take extra care to make sure that we are nurturing the community of citizen developers together to ensure that what they do build is managed actively as part of the capabilities inside of an organization. So both that governance and support are going to be important in new ways for the citizen developer movement simply because of AI.
[00:42:07.910] – Shimrit Janes
There’s so much there, and so much that I’ve seen that I know we’ve both seen reflected in what’s happening in our member community and obviously what’s happening in terms of the discussion of AI outside of it. I love it. And what really struck me across those was this dance, this balance between this kind of expansive excitement of what can we experiment with and how can we harness this for innovation. And there are so many things, and we see, I think this month, previous month, we saw an amazing demonstration from one of our members of work they’re doing around generative AI for knowledge finding and sharing. And we’re starting to see those amazing experiments. And the balance of that, from what I heard, was that almost contraction of security and managing risk and the proliferation that might happen. And so that dance between the excitement of the opportunity and the kind of let’s take this a little bit more slowly because they’re are risks, comes out so beautifully in those predictions, and it’s going to be really interesting to see what happens next year around all of these. And will something completely take us by surprise in the AI sphere?
[00:43:28.830] – Shimrit Janes
It’s developing so rapidly.
[00:43:30.940] – Nancy Goebel
It’s definitely a watch this space area for sure. So I’m certainly acting on the best information that I have in framing these predictions, but because it is such a fast moving arena, there could well be some good surprises along the way.
[00:43:48.790] – Shimrit Janes
And that brings us actually really nicely just to the last prediction I wanted to delve into. I was tempted to ask you more about prediction two, which is about relational experiences, which is like a personal bias of mine, but with our listeners hat on, I thought it was important to finish with your 9th prediction, which is digital workplace leaders will start the year as chaos coordinators and finish as outriders. And so what was your thinking behind that one?
[00:44:17.250] – Nancy Goebel
Think about the conversation that we were just having around AI proliferation, ways of thinking about taking data driven decisions in new ways for digital workplace teams, for the organizations. Think about economic uncertainty that’s still swirling around many organizations. And in fact, we’ve seen some pretty dramatic team restructurings, digital workplace team restructurings, and shifting seats for leaders over the last couple of months. So what that all means is that we are seeing change with direction, aka velocity. And so when you see that amount of change, what ends up happening is that digital workplace leaders end up to some degree acting as chaos coordinators, sense makers to help people find the way forward through cost cutting, through leadership changes and restructuring through emerging technologies and the hype cycle that we are in the middle of. And so that’s a lot. But I don’t think the entire year will be dominated by trying to make sense and help people get a new level of grounding as the digital workplace changes. I do think digital workplace leaders have the strong potential to get ahead of all of that, and that’s why I termed them shifting early in the year from chaos coordinators to outriders, and the outriders being the individuals who are out in front of a pack of bikes, horses, motorcycles to help clear the way and ensure it’s safe for travel as they’re directing, in our parlance, new ways of working.
[00:46:13.160] – Shimrit Janes
I feel like that captures so beautifully some of the themes that have come up in the predictions. Exactly as you said, this idea of there is chaos and digital workplace practitioners are so well placed and have been around governance and infrastructure and all these things that need to be in place, the basics. But then that creates such a great foundation for being that forward looking person at the front of the pack that can help bring people along. And so I think that probably leads us really beautifully into your super prediction. And so I know that this is something that wraps a theme around all ten predictions. And in the past you’ve drawn inspiration from The Wizard of Oz. I know you’re a film buff, you love to draw inspiration from those, and I love an analogy, and they work so beautifully. And so I’m really curious to hear what your super prediction for 2024 is.
[00:47:11.850] – Nancy Goebel
So, just to pull the thread a little bit further, the 2023 prediction was that the digital workplace had entered the land of Oz, a place where digital workplaces found a home, a heart, a brain and courage. This year’s inspiration came from another iconic film from my youth, which is Back to the future. And the way I’ve been thinking about it is that 2023 is the year in which generative AI came on the scene, and in a pretty big way, a pretty big disruptive way. And much of the media hype surrounding it has sparked lots and lots of questions, fears, concerns, inspiration, much like what technology disruptors do. And when you think back to the birth of the internet, which ultimately brought us to intranets, dial up and VPN, instant messaging, the smartphone and the rise of bring your own device or BYOD, social networking, digital collaboration, cloud computing, the metaverse. Although we won’t focus too much on the clunker idea, but there were points in time when technology, emerging technology, gave us pause to say, what do we do in the middle of all of this? And the answer is quite simple. You, in the midst of the hype cycle, fall back on the fundamentals to find your way forward.
[00:48:55.230] – Nancy Goebel
Whether it’s generative AI or any other emerging tech, you need to get clear about purpose. What is your strategy and roadmap? What are your policies? What is your governance framework? How are you going to measure and benchmark? How are you going to look at the implications for the user experience? How are you going to nurture experimentation and innovation? And how are you going to support adoption and change leadership? And so, to my mind, AI is just the latest to go through what we see as a tried and true digital workplace framework that actually takes us Back to the future.
[00:49:35.670] – Shimrit Janes
Oh, I love that. You know what? As soon as you said dial up, I got such a flashback to hearing the sound and to jumping onto MSN messenger after school. I’m positioning my age here as like AOL messenger.
[00:49:52.150] – Shimrit Janes
I love that. I think it speaks so much to almost the cyclical nature of time and how no matter what’s going on, and it feels like there’s new things coming on that we’ve never experienced before. Underneath that are these set of principles that guide us that we can always come back to. And yes, they might need refreshing and tweaking and they might evolve a bit, but they’re always there and they’re the things that you’ve said and they come through so strongly in all of the predictions that you’ve shared. This idea of there’s something new that we’re going to have to contend with, but there’s actually some basics that we can fall back on to guide us. And it’s beautiful. I love the idea of Back to the future as well for this. And so, Nancy, we’re getting to the end of our time. It’s gone really quickly. And just before we close, I have the privilege of asking you the question that you’ve asked me many a time. Is there anything that we’ve missed?
[00:50:54.220] – Nancy Goebel
What I’ll say is that we have lots of conversation around the predictions in our circles and people consume information in lots of different ways. So of course, this podcast is one way to take them in and to bring them into your thinking, your forward planning. But we also have a blog post up on both the DWG website and the member extranet. And one of the things that our editorial team has done is tied back each and every prediction to resources that are available to both audiences. So I think the blog is a really powerful companion to this podcast. The other thing I would say, because I know that some people are much more visually driven, is that also on the member extranet is the preview session that I ran with you in early November. And so that’s up on the extranet for the taking as well.
[00:52:06.230] – Shimrit Janes
Wonderful. Thank you so much, Nancy. And I am really looking forward to this time next year checking in and seeing what the scores were and what you predict for 2025 as well. And so, yeah, thank you so much for inviting me into your own chair to interview you.It’s been such a pleasure
[00:52:24.670] – Nancy Goebel
And it’s been such a treat for me. It’s always great to have you in the studio, but for you to challenge me by taking the lead seat today, that was just wonderful. And so thank you too for being open to this idea and carrying it forward so beautifully.
[00:52:44.190] – Shimrit Janes
Of course, we were experimenting with some tried and trusted principles so fully back to the future. And so thank you Nancy and I will speak soon.
[00:52:53.910] – Nancy Goebel
Digital Workplace Impact is brought to you by the Digital Workplace Group. DWG is a strategic partner covering all aspects of the evolving digital workplace industry, not only through membership, but also benchmarking and boutique consulting services. For more information, visit digitalworkplacegroup.com.
The first is content may be king, but data is the new queen. The second is the next big thing for digital employee experience will be shaping relational experiences. The third is digital workplace impact will be assessed using AI powered strategic insights. The fourth is that citizen developers are poised for a burst in innovation. The fifth is that AI proliferation will abound and digital workplace teams need to help employees find their way. The 6th is digital leadership will level up with the help of AI-powered digital assistants. Number seven is search is dead, long live findability. Number eight is in addition to extending AI and cloud capabilities, Microsoft 365 will build up their gaming productivity and accessibility capabilities. Number nine is digital workplace leaders will start the year as chaos coordinators and finish it off as outriders. And then number ten. Last but not least is that digital workplace teams will need to balance cost cutting with delivering impact so digital employee experience doesn’t suffer.
DWG is uniquely positioned to talk to lots of practitioners and providers in our circles day to day. The predictions really represent an embodiment of the patterns that we see, and are a way for us to help create a line of sight not only for our members, but also for the industry at large.
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