Executive Summary: ISG Provider Lens™ Future of Work - Services and Solutions - Global 2023
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Cost optimization needs and generative AI impact the future of work solutions market
Global enterprises fear a possible economic slowdown but are also curious about the possibilities of the latest generative AI technology. These fears and enthusiasms impact the approach to workplace technology investment decisions for large organizations and SMBs. The workplace technology landscape has multiple areas that impact the employee experience and the organization’s outlook. This report dives deep into two important areas: front-end technologies that are employee facing and are the entry point for digital workplace and back-end technologies that IT administrators leverage to ensure uninterrupted, secured and cost-effective management of IT estate that delivers the workplace to employees. Both areas focus on employee experience enhancement in two different aspects and have different sets of technologies that interest a large organization versus an SMB.
DEX: Must-have for optimized end-user computing estate management for large organizations
Digital employee experience (DEX) technologies have become popular in the past few years as the focus on employee experience started gaining traction. For IT administrators, the first and foremost step for enhancing employee experience is providing uninterrupted workplace technology performance. According to the latest survey by ISG of global workplace leaders, employee productivity is one of the most important considerations for workplace technology buying decisions. Uninterrupted technology performance is necessary for enhancing the productivity of an end user or an employee. Uninterrupted technology access means less or no IT issues related to device and application performance, translating into efficient IT administration and management. Multiple studies suggest that most IT issues the end users raise can and should be resolved automatically. DEX technologies not only help IT administrators resolve those issues automatically but also assist the IT service desk in resolving the remaining issues with greater efficiency and visibility.
Many technology monitoring and observability solutions can provide real-time insights into the performance of different IT assets a large organization may own. Modern DEX solutions mostly focus on the end-user technologies, primarily the devices, endpoints and applications. Leading DEX solutions can also extend this coverage to network and operating system (OS) performance. These solutions can observe and monitor the performance of different end-user computing technology components and provide automated resolution of the most common IT issues. Many DEX solutions also support collecting user feedback information by creating and sending employee surveys asking to rate the experience with the workplace technology. The feedback from employees and intelligence from monitoring and observability of devices and applications can help assign a quantifiable measure of employee experience. Many managed digital workplace outsourcing service providers leverage this DEX score as an important input for the XLAs they sign with their clients. DEX solutions also provide root cause analysis (RCA) for IT issues that can assist IT service desk agents in responding to employee queries and issues appropriately.
ISG’s experience with clients indicates that enterprises that prioritize value realization with DEX technologies go beyond tool implementation. It also requires fostering a culture or leveraging these deep insights to improve EX and not just reduce service desk tickets. DEX works well in the hands of curious and empowered teams, which are not immediately in the line of fire for support calls but are tasked with underlying trends in small batches of users/devices to provide broad solutions to contain the impact before an issue escalates to a large extent.
With a growing concern of possible economic slowdown, IT organizations of large enterprises are focusing on doing more with less and optimizing spend. DEX solutions are an important component of this strategy as these can quantify the EX and help reduce the need for less-skilled human service desk agents for issues that could be resolved automatically.
The advent of generative AI is seen as an opportunity for DEX solutions. Since these large language models (LLMs) can generate summarized and analyzed views out of large information, these can be used to enhance the efficiency of the IT admins using insights from DEX solutions that talk to diverse endpoints and end-user technology touchpoints. Leading DEX technology providers are already integrating this technology into their solutions.
SMBs invest in unified endpoint management solutions to have a single pane of glass visibility
The SMBs have a different set of requirements from a device management perspective. These clients mostly allow their employees to use their own devices, or they deploy mobile device management (MDM) solutions to manage the devices they provide their employees. As the number of devices their employees use and the diversity in platforms increases, they are looking at a wider unified endpoint management (UEM) solution to have a single pane of glass for managing them. Security is the most important driving factor for opting for a device management solution. The UEM solutions can help SMBs improve their security posture by enabling them to deploy and enforce security policies on their diverse devices and endpoints. Deploying device and endpoint management solutions can protect SMBs from data breaches and security threats. The UEM solutions also help the IT staff of SMB organizations that are usually understaffed by providing complete asset visibility in their environment. This does not include only the devices and endpoints but also the different application licensing information. These solutions can keep track of the usage of this licensing, providing opportunities to optimize their usage and contain costs. SMB clients that support device issues leverage endpoint management solutions that provide remote login support allowing IT admins to conduct remote troubleshooting sessions. For many SMB clients, frontline workers form an important part of their business operations, and these frontline workers are increasingly leveraging smart and IoT technology-enabled devices. TheUEM solutions provide a single pane of glass management for devices of all types and are used by SMBs to support their frontline worker operations.
With the growing concern of possible economic downturn, IT buyers from the SMB segment are cautious with spending and want to optimize their investments. UEM providers offer complete visibility and asset management of their IT estate. Leading providers also provide DEX capabilities for quantifying end-user experience scores. SMB admins also look for solutions supporting diverse operating systems and device platforms. The UEM providers are responding by supporting diverse device setups and ecosystems such as Android, Apple, Samsung Knox, Linux and Windows.
The introduction of generative AI opens new possibilities in the endpoint management solution landscape. Leading UEM providers offer generative AI-based solutions that can recommend user device policies based on persona and security requirement.
UCCaaS has immense possibilities with generative AI
Unified communications and collaboration (UCC) as a service (UCCaaS) is the front-end employee-facing workplace technology that enables employee connection with the rest of the organization. Clients that have high investments in private branch exchange (PBX) or public switched telephone network (PSTN) systems are moving toward voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Many clients with on-premises UCC setups are transitioning toward cloudbased systems. According to the latest ISG survey with global workplace IT leaders, UCC is the second-most important technology for the next 12 months. The non-IT business leaders also understand the importance of UCCaaS technology. There is already a growing interest in combining the same technology stack to empower customer experience. UCaaS and contact center as a service (CCaaS) technologies converge, highlighting the relationship between EX and CX.
With the growing concern of a possible economic downturn, UCCaaS vendors do not see the massive growth they witnessed during the pandemic and witnessed a decline in stock prices. Providers facing growth challenges seek exit strategies, resulting in mergers and acquisitions in this space. The latter half of 2022 witnessed major acquisitions in this space, mostly where UCCaaS vendors wanted to expand in the CCaaS space.
The advent of generative AI has resulted in massive adoption in this space. As this technology has a huge scope of implementation and guaranteed success with contact center and meeting conferencing space, UCCaaS providers are in a race to develop offerings around it. Leading providers are developing solutions targeted at horizontal business functions to make them smarter with AI usage.
Productivity and collaboration solutions for SMBs is a colorful competitive space
While UCaaS or UCC are mostly seen as more applicable for a large enterprise than an SMB because of investments in telephony and PBX, there are a host of technology providers that the SMBs are leveraging to foster enhanced productivity and collaboration within their environment. These providers are not necessarily the regular unified communications and collaboration providers in the UCCaaS space. These providers belong to different technology spaces but provide capabilities to serve the SMB market for their productivity and collaboration needs. Because of the nature of work in the SMB space, these providers from diverse areas, such as task management, collaborative work and office productivity, can provide the required features to support the future of work.
With growing concerns around a possible economic slowdown, the already priceconscious SMB clients are spending cautiously on investing in a technology provider solution for productivity and collaboration and trying to make use of the existing project management solutions and their interoperability with other solutions to address these requirements.
The advent of generative AI has been tremendously helpful for technology providers in this space, and each provider has embraced this new technology to improve and enhance the functionality of their solutions. With increasingly improving productivity collaboration solutions in this space, SMBs may not have to invest in costlier UCC or office productivity applications.
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