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Workspaces For Tomorrow - Turning Vision Into Strategy

Workspaces For Tomorrow - Turning Vision Into Strategy

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​​ Workspaces for tomorrow – turning vision into strategy​

Every business needs a collaborative vision for the future. And that vision, whether to deliver better service to customers or stay ahead of competitors, needs to be embedded in both its work culture and ICT architecture. 

People, as much as technology, are shaping tomorrow’s workplace. It’s happening right now.

People, as much as technology, are shaping tomorrow’s workplace. It’s  ​happening right now.’

However, navigating the interdependence between technology and people in an increasingly connected working world calls for a new road map. In moving forward, organisations must get each person – in an office, on a laptop in a hotel room, or as a team in a video meeting – to work smarter, collaborate more and make better, faster decisions. For this strategy to succeed, internal support is crucial. 

‘Many organisations jump to the end by trying to implement a point technology solution to solve a problem,’ says Nadeem Ahmad, Global Technology Director at Dimension Data. ‘But without understanding user dynamics and what applications they need, or how the IT infrastructure and business enablement will support the solution, it’s destined to fail. The IT department deploying technology in isolation from other parts of the business can lead to risk and failure of adoption, especially given that other stakeholders of the business are increasingly leading the charge in reshaping tomorrow’s workspaces.’​

Meet tomorrow’s decision-makers
The truth is that the stakeholders looking to reap the benefits of workspaces for tomorrow seldom originate from the IT department. They might be a human resource director looking to attract and retain talent by offering an environment with both a flexible work style and reliable ICT support. Or a facilities manager looking to reduce the cost of real estate, especially as people become more mobile and office space is underutilised. They might be an executive looking to meet sustainability targets. Or a business unit head looking for mobility solutions to make his sales team more agile in the field. 

Ahmad believes an approach without proper planning – and a clear vision – leads to a lack of operational capability. ‘You have to step back and assess the situation,’ he says ‘Do you know what each group is trying to achieve and does it match what the business is trying to achieve? Does the current environment support these goals?’​

Maximum fit
Most organisations accept that the user sits firmly in the middle of today’s IT ecosystem. As a younger, ‘net’ generation enters the workforce, they require greater freedom of choice as to how and where they work. An executive may be out of the country – but they can’t hold up workflow because they’re not at their desk. An account manager still needs video collaboration to engage with customers and colleagues. A sales representative wants to know his mobile applications are up to date. A contact centre manager wants an environment that offers the best communications and collaboration tools. 

As a forward-thinking paradigm, it all sounds good. But without a coherent workspace strategy, a user-centric utopia will soon turn into an organisational headache. Given the interdependency between various departments and teams, organisations need to maximise the fit between technology and work styles. 

‘If you don’t get your head around this, you won’t know how to support, much less improve, a work stream,’ Ahmad says. ‘When technology is out of sync with what the business is trying to achieve overall, every other operational or marketing strategy is likely to stall or fail.’​​

Building the back end 
Of course, the most innovative and collaborative workspace doesn’t mean anything when things go wrong. Whether a technical glitch or human error, downtime costs the business money. This is why the back-end infrastructure has to be part of a strategy. ‘To support flexible workspaces and users, the wireless network has to be working at optimum level,’ he says. ‘With spikes in traffic, due to voice and video, you need to be able to keep the service consistent and reliable.’ 

With increasing mobility and proliferation of devices in the work environment, server storage needs in the data centre will be affected. ‘Cloud deployment of services may need to be part of the strategy as it provides a convenient way to deliver services to any connected device,’ he says. ‘Of course, security must be another element reviewed. With so many devices and applications storing and transferring sensitive data across the network, you need a strong policy framework that outlines the rules of engagement and the means to enforce them.’​

‘ You can’t add technology piecemeal, as and when it’s needed by different business areas, without thinking how to link it together to achieve future outcomes across the entire business.’​

Better performance – in and out the office 
Performance management is also a critical factor for business. ‘To meet user expectations and business outcomes, you should strive to maximise the performance of both the network and applications,’ he explains. ‘That’s why it’s important to have formal service level agreements (SLAs) with service providers in place. This will mitigate risk and give you tighter control of projects and implementations, as well make sure downtime is kept a minimum.’ 

In managing a large mobile fleet, the brick-and-mortar office space is often overlooked. ‘We’re finding that the ability to book a workspace or to trace people to their work location is important when managing productivity,’ he says. ‘You also can’t forget about desktop applications in use by fixed-task workers. In fact, we’ve seen an unexpected resurgence of the humble PC. Finally, workspace management should incorporate building systems, including energy management solutions.’

Finding the roadmap
For larger organisations, a workspaces for tomorrow project is often too large and complex to take on without consultants who’ve the intellectual property and depth of skill to help develop a roadmap. ‘A consultant should also be involved early in the decision-making process, although they can still be engaged at a later stage,’ he says. ‘They can help you identify areas of interdependencies within the end-user computing paradigm to determine your current capability in those areas. This is your as-is state. They can see where you need or want to be – your to-be state. To understand the gap between the two, they can help you assess your current infrastructure and provide the services and technology to increase operational capability in a short, sharp engagement. The benefit is rapid maturity and capability.’

Tech trend or future-forward thinking?
When looking at activity-based working solutions, an organisation should interrogate its technology’s capability to address the future needs of both users and the business itself. For any business, having employees enjoying a better worklife balance is a benefit – but it can also save costs, increase performance, reduce physical office space and travel time. 

‘This isn’t a passing trend, it’s the evolution of work styles,’ says Ahmad. ‘As the last vestiges of the traditional office disappear, it’s now a transformation focus for every business.’ 

Those that ignore shifting work patterns and the rise of mobile technology will be left behind. Only when people and technology work seamlessly together can a business achieve its future goals. And that planning starts today.

‘ Only when people and technology work seamlessly together can a business achieve its future goals. And that planning starts today.’​