The digital workplace hype cycle
Since 1995, Gartner has used the Hype Cycle Model to characterise the over-enthusiasm and subsequent disappointment that typically happens when new technologies are introduced. Every year, Gartner issue a Hype Cycle special report, showing how far along the cycle technologies have moved, helping CIOs to decide if technologies are worth investing in yet.
Their 2012 report, published recently, shows that over the past year big data, 3D printing, activity streams, Internet TV, Near Field Communication (NFC) payment, cloud computing and media tablets have moved quickly through the cycle, and are expected to reach the ‘plateau of productivity’ – the point where benefits are widely demonstrated and accepted – in just a few years.
We all hear a lot of hype about intranet and digital workplace innovations. So where do these sit on the hype cycle, and how long will it be before we really see these reach the plateau of productivity?
Here, the Intranetizens plot the digital workplace hype cycle:
Although the Hype Cycle presents technologies individually, like Gartner let’s look at these in sets or groups, because so many trends involve multiple technologies or innovations working together. Often, one or two technologies that are not quite ready can limit the true potential of what is possible. This means that it takes one “tipping point” technology to mature for the group or set to really come of age.
Digital workplace innovations fall into several broad groups, in this context:
Content and comms
Most intranets began as a means of delivering content – mostly flat web pages – and it shows. Internal comms content – internal news and campaigns – have long since reached the point where both consumers and stakeholders understand and accept the benefits. The increased ease of production and distribution of video has meant this has moved fairly quickly along the cycle to become accepted (and expected) by users. Federated and devolved authoring models have matured, leading to improvements in the quality and timeliness of content.
By contrast, early attempts at making engagement two-way – through the use of ratings and comments – have fallen out of favour as users take their first steps with internal social networks instead.
While content delivery via an intranet is now mainstream, focusing too much of your resources on what Jane McConnell terms the ‘managed dimension’ may limit development of social or structured collaboration, which will deliver greater value for the workforce, partners and the public. See this blogpost for more on Jane’s digital workplace model.
Services such as self-service HR or IT have slipped quickly from the peak of inflated expectations (of money saved and services improved) as end users struggled with poor user experience and service levels which contrasted badly with the (usually phone-based) services they replaced.
As this journey happened in parallel with significant increases in the quality of transaction services used outside of work – shopping and banking, for example – the contrast was stark and soon forced transactional into the trough of disillusionment. The long life cycle of enterprise HR platforms (often five years or more) has meant they’ve languished in that trough for some years now.
The good news is, this is changing. As products creak towards the end of their lifecycle, they’re being replaced with platforms with an improved focus on UX. At the same time, more companies are seeing the digital workplace as heterogeneous, made up of an ecosystem of platforms and tools – bringing content, transactional and social platforms together in clean interfaces that deliver a better customer experience.
We’re not quite there – Intranetizen think it’ll be a few years before this becomes completely mainstream – but we’re well on the way.
Last year we charted the milestones on the mobile intranet roadmap. Since then – driven, again, by consumer innovation – each of these milestones have progressed a little further along the cycle. Simply being able to access your intranet remotely is falling out of favour, while more advanced mobility features – with content and functionality designed for people who are mobile, to access on any device – are still at the hype stages.
We predict it will be at least two years before mobile intranets become commonplace, and up to five years before these take full advantage of the complete range of functionality (location, camera, touch-screen) with quality of UX required to be accepted by users.
This is based on our own experiences as practitioners, and conversations we have had with those in our networks – it’s not a robust study like Gartner’s. We believe a quantitative study would be extremely useful for digital workplace specialists looking at their budgets for the next year or two, so we’ve set up a short survey with the aim of gathering data from a larger group of practitioners.
We would be grateful if you would take the time to complete our short survey. It should take around ten minutes. We’ll publish the results – and more robust analysis – at a future date. We will also make the survey data available for others to use in their own research.
Where would you place intranet innovations on the hype cycle? Is there anything we’ve overlooked? Let us know in the comments below.