3 Future of Work Insights from the 2019 Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo

Gartner IT symposium/xpo

Workfront participated in the 2019 Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo in Orlando last week. Shoulder to shoulder—brain to brain—with thousands of innovative CIOs and IT leaders, we helped shape the urgent global conversation about the technology, trends, and insights shaping the future of how we work.

With 65 sessions on everything from the opportunities and risks of artificial intelligence (AI) to how to lead a rapidly changing digital society, we compiled a few work management insights for enterprise technology leaders navigating their digital transformations.

1. Enterprises crave configurable, integrative modern work management solutions.

The Xpo was packed with CIOs and IT leaders sharing stories about the software, hardware, and infrastructure purchases they’ve made to propel their digital transformations forward. Many of these were war stories featuring an army of pain points about the shortcomings of their work management software, from not being configurable to the way their teams want to work, to not integrating with the dearth of digital tools they use every day.

Many IT leaders aren’t seeing returns on their work management tech investments, backing up what we learned in Workfront’s 2020 State of Work report: 84% of the global workers surveyed think enterprises are missing opportunities by not moving to modern technology solutions—solutions that a-not-so-surprising 91% of workers crave.

The bottom line: technology leaders want modern work management systems that deliver visibility, unity, connection, context, and structure. They want software that can integrate with their apps and unify their technology stacks. There is an undeniable thirst for a holistic work management platform that simplifies how and where we get work done.

2. Platforming work combats a crippling digital transformation side effect: digital dysfunction.

In his session, “Digital Dysfunction Is Crippling Digital Transformation,” Gartner research director Gavin Tay unpacked the digital dysfunction that comes with digital transformation—think instant gratification, blue light exposure, FOMO, and poor spinal alignment.

Tay believes that digital dysfunction is a side effect of organizational dysfunction. “An organization that designs systems reflects its organizational structure and any underlying dysfunction—publicly.” The result is work management, planning, and collaboration tools that unwittingly produce digital dysfunction in the workforce. This dysfunction is expressed in many ways, like feeling compelled to respond to every email, text, or slack instantly, whether or not these interruptions help us get the right work, or our best work, done.

Technology leaders should keep a close eye on this dysfunction as their digital transformation rolls out and evolves, said Gavin. A modern work management platform, that preserves the context of all tasks, content, and collaboration in one place so it can be analyzed, reported, optimized, and automated, can play a critical part in identifying and remedying what Gavin calls sources of disequilibrium in the enterprise.

3. Artificial intelligence is a main character in the future of work story.

Gartner VP analyst Helen Poitevin explored the inefficiencies in current methods of accounting for knowledge worker skills in the typical enterprise in her session, “Finding and Building Talent in the Digital Talent Ecosystem.” For businesses that even attempt such a thing, she said, it’s done via audit by managers in a spreadsheet—not the ideal medium for collecting, maintaining, or acting on this data during the daily workplace scurry.

Helen said, “The challenge here is, when you're trying to find talent, you might be able to find it outside, but you might actually already have it inside and you didn't know you did because you have no way of knowing.” HR teams may already have this data, like career histories, in their recruiting system, but rarely share it with the rest of the organization.

Helen believes this is one place where AI—with its ability to detect patterns in large pools of data—and modern work management can make a huge impact on talent utilization. “There's a new way of thinking about this,” she said. “You're taking data from project management tools to the communications channels that they use to collaborate on various projects, and you feed that data through a natural language processing engine to map out and understand the organization’s skills.”

A modern work management system that integrates seamlessly with other departmental systems (e.g., Workday) is apt to support this kind of AI-driven assessment of talent, and then deploy that data to swiftly distribute work to the right team members.

The future of work is bright.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the 2019 Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo is that, while a new crop of challenges await intrepid IT leaders, new technologies continue to counter with intriguing possibilities. Work management solutions that platform work, unify systems and empower each person in an organization to do their very best work will play a significant role in making the future of work a bright one.