Discover the digital workspace trends for 2021 that you should keep in mind. Back in 2010 when Workspace 365 launched, we were the only digital workspace solution. A year later Office 365 joined the playing field. Fast forward to 2020 and this year both Google and Citrix renamed and repacked their solutions to Citrix Workspace and Google Workspace.

It’s a fact: the concept of the digital workplace has now turned to a real solution, a digital workspace. So, let’s discover the Digital Workspace trends for 2021 and for each trend we have a question for you as an IT-leader.

In short, the top seven trends that we identified:

Trend 1: Shift to the browser and cloud, goodbye to legacy systems?

Moving from Citrix to WVD, or making it obsolete?
The COVID-19 pandemic caused many organisations to quickly provide Desktop as a Service solutions to their employees to maintain productivity while working from home. But now, organisations have time again to think about increasing productivity and to reduce the infrastructure costs.

Do all your colleagues still need their current Citrix environment? This question plays in the mind of many IT-managers across the globe and many industries. While Citrix did launch their digital workspace this year, it might be too late as most companies are re-evaluating their need for Citrix. With the launch of Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) by Microsoft it is tempting to discover the needs for a remote desktop solution for each employee group.

How to deal with legacy systems and file servers
Furthermore, with the shift to the cloud a lot of organisations have invested in Microsoft 365. But how do you deal with the remaining legacy applications and the file server? Is it already time to wave goodbye to all these systems? Not quite yet. There are still many reasons to maintain your existing systems (including Citrix, the file server and legacy applications) as you might be required to by law or if applications are still linked to each other and the file server.

The question IT-managers should ask themselves about this trend: 
Which employee groups still need the remote desktop, file server and legacy applications?

How does Workspace 365 use this trend?
We help organisations to maximize their investments in Microsoft 365 and help to transition to the cloud. Within Workspace 365 people can easily access both Citrix, WVD, and local applications.

Furthermore, we unite document solutions such as your file server, SharePoint, OneDrive and Teams documents all in one Document App. A huge benefit that our document app brings to you, is that you can use licences with Office Online tools in the file server (such as Microsoft F1, BE and E1) when using Workspace 365. These licences allow you to save up to 10 euro per user, per month compared to E3 or F3 licences.

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Trend 2: Increasing amount of digital transformation projects

Each department is forced to think digitally
Digital transformation is a topic which is on the agenda of many organisations. However, in 2021 this will get more focus as everyone is forced to think ‘digitally’. Without physical events and offices, there are no more ‘remote workers’, just workers. As digital workspace expert Paul Levy said:

In the near future we might use the term ‘remote worker’ to refer to the people who are in physical workspaces. – Paul Levy

The rise of no-/low-code platforms
With an increasing number of applications used by organisations it becomes important to bring back focus to work. A way to achieve this is to connect applications with each other to automate business processes.

This is why No-/Low-code platforms are gaining popularity and are getting easier to use. Gartner also describes ‘Democratized technology services’ as one of the top trends for the digital workplace in their hype cycle. IT- and information managers are researching ways to automate processes and to create one access point for all important notifications.

By leveraging low-code platforms (such as Microsoft Power Apps), you can enable IT savvy people in your organisation to automate processes.

The question IT-managers should ask themselves about this trend: 
Can we use low-code platforms in our organisation to automate processes and unite notifications?

How does Workspace 365 use this trend?
We believe that software should be as open as possible in a secure way. That is why we allow you to embed Power Apps, but also enable you to aggregate all your notifications and activities using no-/low-code platforms.

Furthermore, we develop Micro Apps for the most used business applications for specific industries. It would be a waste of (public) money and time if each organisation develops the same Micro Apps. That is why we continually research the most used applications to see if we can develop it for all our customers at once, without additional development costs for the customer.

Trend 3: Digital dexterity and digital employee experience

Investing in digital employee experience = increasing digital dexterity? Nope.
Organisations invest heavily in solutions such as Microsoft 365 to increase their productivity and security. Ideally, this should also increase the digital employee experience as people get new tools to work smarter.

But while IT-managers might provide people with the ability to collaborate in documents online, many people will still share documents as attachments and create multiple versions of documents. Employees get the tools to work smarter, but miss the knowledge, spirit, and mindset to change their behaviour and adapt to the new tools. In other words, they did not cross the digital dexterity gap.

The question IT-managers should ask themselves about this trend: 
Do you have an adoption program that is focussed on making a cultural change instead of solely focussing on technology?

How does Workspace 365 use this trend?
We reduce the complexity of your applications, information, and communication by uniting everything in an adaptive workspace. Workspace 365 automatically adapts to each individual’s needs, using their role, device type, browser and more. This doesn’t only apply to applications, but also to the information within the workspace.

Interested in Digital Transformation? Read the Ultimate Guide to Digital Transformation

Additionally, we have many solutions that break-down the barriers of using modern solutions. By integrating both legacy- and modern solutions in one workspace people will only have to learn one platform instead of continuously having to adapt to new solutions.

Another way that we use this trend is that we train our partners on the adoption of the digital workspace, we offer adoption programs and content and also provide tools to support deskless workers (such as a How-To tile). Next to this, you can also integrate your own training videos within the workspace to change people their behaviour and mindset.

Trend 4: Power to the deskless workers

According to Emergence, across the globe there are 2.7 billion deskless employees, this is 80% of the total global workforce. With the trends mentioned above, these workers are getting an increasing amount of IT tools to perform better. Important to note, 70% of surveyed deskless workers report that more technology would help them to do their jobs better. Additionally, 44% of deskless workers rated their technologies as slow.

That is why it is interesting for IT-managers to review their organisation and to evaluate the usage of tools by their deskless workers. Additionally, this should also trigger you to think about using chat bots to resolve support tickets for deskless workers.

Top industries with deskless workers – Globally

  1. Agriculture
  2. Manufacturing
  3. Retail
  4. Construction/Real Estate
  5. Education
  6. Transportation & logistics
  7. Healthcare
  8. Restaurant/Hospitality

The question IT-managers should ask themselves about this trend:
If my organisation has deskless workers, how would they rate the provided technologies?

How does Workspace 365 use this trend?
We conduct a lot of research on this topic across different industries to continuously conquer complexity for deskless workers and to improve the user-experience of the workspace. That is why we develop industry specific Micro Apps and help organisations to move away from their slow remote desktop to a modern browser-based workspace.

By integrating multiple Micro Apps for the different line of business applications people need, you allow them to use their digital workspace as the central point of information. From the workspace they can easily search through their applications and access additional information with a single click if necessary.

Trend 5: Securing remote workers and their digital workspace

Did you know that 67% of all data breaches are caused by human error? It may have even increased as cyber-attacks are getting more sophisticated and as more people work remotely it increase the number of targets for cyber-attacks. According to Microsoft’s Digital Defense Report there was a 35% increase of attack volume in the first half of 2020. The most common methods are harvesting credentials, using malware, virtual private network exploits and reconnaissance (attacks to gather information about a target network or system).

To counter this, IT-managers should definitely put cyber security on their agenda. Cyber criminals keep evolving their techniques, forcing software vendors and IT-managers to evolve their security at the same pace. That being said, we see a lot of IT-managers who invest in their IT-security tool stack, as well as providing training and raising awareness on cyber security within their organisation while employees work remotely.

The question IT-managers should ask themselves about this trend:
Do we review and evolve our cyber security on a monthly basis?

How does Workspace 365 use this trend?
Workspace 365 enables you to use the authentication technologies that Microsoft offers. By doing this you can enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) on your digital workspace and on specific applications. If you already use a different identity provider (such as Okta or HelloID), you are also able to integrate them within the workspace.

Furthermore, we have seen customers that only allow people to access their applications using Single Sign-On via their workspace. By doing this they are able to set conditions on the access to applications and can prevent people from using insecure (or publicly available) passwords.

Next to this, Workspace 365 collaborates with other software vendors (such as SmartLockr) to provide additional security on top of your Microsoft 365 environment.

Trend 6: The huge merger of intranets and the digital workspace

In the past year we noticed that many IT-managers involved the Communication department in their roadmap to the ideal digital workspace. And this is a logical step, as most intranet solutions try to rebrand and reposition themselves as digital workspaces. Which makes sense, as many communication managers would love people to start their day on the intranet.

Why communication managers want a digital workspace instead of an intranet?
Some goals of communication managers include increasing collaboration, promoting the company culture and organising the information flow to all employees. At first, the intranet was a great starting point. However, IT-managers have adapted application portals and pushed them to simplify access to applications. The past year we have merged the intranet, application portals, notification- and communication channels into one digital workspace.

In 2020 we have organised many events to teach IT-managers about the needs of communication managers and vice-versa. This brings us to believe that IT and Communication will once again turn into ICT. We have seen an increase in collaboration between these departments which will lead to a better digital employee experience.

Elevate your intranet: Discover how you unite Communication & IT

The question IT-managers should ask themselves about this trend:
Does our organisation’s intranet integrate easily within our digital workspace?

How does Workspace 365 use this trend?
Within Workspace 365 there are many functions that allow you to remove the complexity of switching between your applications, intranet, portals and more. You can aggregate information from third-party applications, send announcements to targeted groups or even integrate your entire intranet within the digital workspace.

You can also maximize some of your current investments in Microsoft 365 licences, as there are deep integrations with Microsoft Teams and Yammer to stimulate collaboration and knowledge sharing. It is time to transition your intranet into a digital workspace.

Elevate your intranet Workspace 365 banner

Trend 7: Highly personalised, adaptive and intelligent workplace

Consumers are used to customisations and personalisation
As consumers we are getting used to customisations and personalisation of physical products. We can easily order books with our kid’s name as the hero of the story, socks with our own face on it as perfect Christmas gifts, we customise our shoes or clothes using online editors and even 3D-printers are still increasing in demand to allow people to build their own board game figures.

People expect the same level of customisation at work
Almost everyone is able to adjust their mobile phone, tablet or PC to match their personal needs. However, somehow not all intranet and applications portals offer the same amount of personalisation. This is a huge loss, as personalising and customising a digital workspace to specific employee groups (or even on an individual level for higher management) can help you to drastically reduce the amount of time people spend switching and searching through their solutions.

People expect the same level of personalisation for their digital workspace, but they don’t know how to communicate this to their supervisors or IT-managers as they are not knowledgeable about the possibilities.

The question IT-managers should ask themselves about this trend:
Can we offer a personalised digital workspace that decreases the amount of time people spend searching and switching between storage solutions and applications?

How does Workspace 365 use this trend?
Using our workspace management and Conditional Access options, you are able to determine the visibility of tiles in your workspace. This allows you to e.g. hide highly sensitive data such as patient records on insecure networks, or to offer the most important KPIs for business managers by integrating statistics into your workspace.

Next to having a single pane of glass to all relevant information, we have added multiple search functions to the workspace. At the top of the workspace you can find a global search function. This allows you to search through your documents, email, contacts, announcements and more in the future.

As we know that not all applications are ready for a global search function, as it brings too much clutter or information when you search through everything at once, we also provide a search box on specific Micro Apps. This allows you to search through a line of business application straight from your workspace.

Trend 8: Using Digital Workplace Analytics

With people working from home the importance of monitoring and digital workplace analytics has become clearly visible. Information-, IT-managers and business leaders are using monitoring to measure the adoption of new technologies, to track people’s goals, but also to identify opportunities to save costs on unused hard- or software.

Within the Digital Workplace IT-managers are using tools, such as Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) systems and the calendar to measure productivity and the usage of software and hardware. Using these workplace analytics organisations can improve their digital workplace (entire technology stack) and their digital workspace (the workspace in which people start their day).

One thing to keep in mind: if you plan to implement digital workplace analytics make sure that nobody can use it as a surveillance tool.

The question IT-managers should ask themselves about this trend: 
Do we have the tools to measure our digital workplace analytics, if so, how do we use the data and who is responsible for this?

How does Workspace 365 use this trend?
Within Workspace 365 you can use the digital workplace analytics tools that are provided by Microsoft. This allows you to measure the usage of software solutions that are linked to Azure. Furthermore, you can even create a Power BI dashboard that contains all the relevant information for your digital workplace.

You can integrate the Power BI dashboard on the workspace of the people who are responsible for monitoring the digital workplace, such as application-, information- and IT-leaders.

Next to these tools, you are also able to integrate your own analytics solution within the workspace. This year we have also implemented a tool that allows us to get insight into the usage of the workspace. In 2021 this will become available to customers and partners to allow you to measure your workspace analytics.

What trends do you see in your organisation?

Hopefully you have enough information to organise an internal session and discuss your digital workspace roadmap. If you ever feel the need to discuss your strategy with one of our experts feel free to reach out to us. We have helped thousands of organisations to create their perfect digital workspace and to conquer complexity for their employees. We are happy to help you achieve your goals using the digital workspace.

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Mark Grasmayer

Mark Grasmayer

Product Evangelist

Do you have questions about Workspace 365? Please contact us!

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