Workplace tech predictions for 2020 (and beyond)

Digital trends that will shape the future of work

2020 Workplace Tech Predictions
  • Enterprise voice assistants will yield significant productivity gains
  • Digital measurement tools will assist in evaluating managers’ job performance
  • Employees will rely on intelligent self-service systems to manage workflows and projects.

It’s that time of the year again—to make predictions about next year.

Here at Workflow, we don’t presume to guess who’ll win the Super Bowl, whether the markets will rise or fall in 2020, or when the Singularity might happen. But we do have thoughts about the changing relationship between people and tech at work.

This year we polled senior technologists at our publisher, ServiceNow, about what’s in store for the digital enterprise in 2020 and beyond. Their predictions hit on a consistent theme: how companies will use technology to improve design and delivery of employee services.

For companies focused on the tough challenges of engaging and retaining your top talent, these are some trends worth watching—and perhaps investing in—for the future.

Silo-based HR, IT, and facilities departments will merge into what will become known as the Employee Experience Office.

Your next personal assistant may be a bot

Over the next year, advances in natural language understanding will help companies to minimize, if not entirely eliminate, human involvement in a wide range of business processes.

AI-powered chatbots will make it possible to give executives a virtual personal assistant, automating time-consuming chores such as booking business travel, scheduling meetings, and managing to-do lists. Companies that deploy chatbots to relieve people from these repetitive tasks will realize significant productivity gains.
Dave Wright, chief innovation officer, ServiceNow

Employees help themselves

In 2020, AI will turbocharge employee self-service. Intelligent systems will make it easier for workers to find information, manage workflows, and take a more proactive approach to initiating and completing projects. For example, these systems use machine learning to streamline requests in approval processes: grouping requests, automating standard approvals, and flagging anomalies.

Finally, an increasing number of self-service interactions will shift over to conversational/chat interfaces and mobile, as employees become even less dependent on traditional work settings. They will also occur on desktop, voice and other emerging interfaces.
—Boaz Hecht, VP of platform product management, ServiceNow

Agile HR replaces old HR

The concept of Agile HR will shift from an experimental practice to broad adoption in 2020, driven by tech companies applying agile methodology throughout their organizations. It’s a major undertaking to transform a traditional HR model to an agile one, but significant payoffs hang in the balance: HR teams play a much more active role in designing and digitizing employee workflows, and in much tighter collaboration with workers themselves.

Though the concepts of collaboration, customer-centricity, and continuous improvement may seem alien to many CHROs, focusing HR around a user-centered design framework will allow organizations to innovate with greater speed to attract and retain top talent.
—Matt Parrish, director of digital talent experience, ServiceNow

Traditional business silos start to disappear

Over the next three to five years, enhancing the employee experience will become a major priority for enterprises seeking to recruit and retain top talent. But you can’t craft a seamless employee experience when personnel policies, technology, and work spaces are controlled by separate entities. That’s why I believe traditional silo-based HR, IT, and facilities departments will merge into what will become known as the Employee Experience Office.

Measuring manager performance will also become more critical. In the near future, managers will be hooked up to digital systems that record their engagement levels, management patterns, how often they have one-on-one meetings with employees, or travel to visit remote workers. As managers gain metrics that enable continuous improvement, organizations will reap the benefits of enhanced success in recruiting and higher retention levels.
Pat Wadors, chief talent officer, ServiceNow

Organizations balance humans and AI

AI will have a profound impact on work. As AI applications and tools take on more rote tasks, organizations will need to invest in retooling processes, re-skilling employees and re-thinking job descriptions.

Companies will debate how automated employee services should be as they manage the new generational divide—between employees who expect the human touch and employees who consider themselves digital natives.
Blake McConnell, senior VP of employee workflow products, ServiceNow