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5 ways the modern workplace is changing

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Over the past two decades, the workplace has evolved dramatically. The proliferation of smart devices has led to the age of apps and instant messaging. The workplace has transformed immeasurably, and the pace of change continues to accelerate.

Making sense of this constant change, and defining how your business can capitalise on the opportunities it presents, is enormously challenging. Employees’ expectations are changing too; adept with advanced consumer technology, they now expect to work in a more flexible, collaborative way and have little patience for enterprise IT which limits their ability to work in the ways they want.

A thorough digital transformation strategy is a must here. Many businesses remain unsure about how to incorporate and manage all that the digital world can offer. What kind of plan do we need? Who should lead on strategy? Do we need outside help? Many remain unsure about what lies around the corner, and about what their response to innovations such as wearable tech, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) should be.

To answer these questions, Dimension Data surveyed 850 IT and business leaders across 15 countries and seven industries about digital transformation in their organisations. Our results are compiled in the Digital Workplace Report: Transforming Your Business, which reveals several compelling trends about our evolving relationship with digital technology in the workplace. Five of the most significant findings are presented here.

How we think about success is changing

40% of organisations frame digital strategies equally on improving business processes, gaining competitive advantage and growing revenues

For years, IT projects were framed in terms of one or two key questions, both with a ‘negative’ skew:

  • How can we save money?
  • How can we reduce our budget?

The research suggests that this is no longer the case. Rather than focusing on savings and budget, businesses are increasingly paying attention to the way IT can further enable them to become more productive and grow. This is clearly a major shift in perspective.

When asked about how they measure the success of digital workplace projects, the most popular responses were focused on ‘positive’ motivations:

  • Improving business processes
  • Gaining a competitive advantage
  • Growing revenues and increasing competitiveness
  • Accelerating decision making
  • Improving employee productivity
  • Using trusted partners to implement change is vital

    Two-thirds of organisations need significant support from external partners when planning, designing, deploying, and benefitting from workplace technology solutions.

    Many organisations are struggling to deal with the challenges presented by changes in the workplace, and the research shows that more are reverting to the help of trusted partners. Collaboration is becoming more important, as the workplace becomes more complex and dynamic. There’s a lot to manage for organisations that choose to go it alone.

    Even large corporations are finding that they don’t have all the relevant skill-sets within their teams and, if they do, often these workers have other priorities to focus on. Adapting the organisation to the new digital workplace is a huge project, and cannot be squeezed into existing workloads. Bringing in the expertise of trusted partners is the most effective way to cover all bases.

    By engaging with trusted partners, your organisation will be:

    • Benefiting from specialised expertise
    • Faster, best practice project delivery
    • Allowing your staff to focus on tasks that are key to their jobs
    • Caring for mobile devices is becoming an important focus

      44% say that managing and leveraging the proliferation of mobile devices in the enterprise is of high importance.

      Mobile devices have become a core part of modern work, and many simply can’t do their jobs properly without them. However, with an ever-increasing range of devices—including laptops, smartphones, tablets and wearables—comes a steady flow of new challenges. Whether it’s bring your own device (BYOD) policies or the adoption of wearable tech out in the field, digital strategies must evolve with the latest developments.

      Key to getting the most value from these new devices is thinking about how the business can manage them. Until now, many firms have only been able to provide the most basic management—ensuring devices are secure using mobile device management (MDM) policies. However, the survey results suggest that organisations are developing more sophisticated models to support these devices. They are going beyond simply issuing devices and implementing MDM, and are now taking a more coherent and complete approach:

      • Providing everyone with the equipment they need
      • Ensuring devices function properly
      • Ensuring employees have access to the data or applications they need
      • Ensuring faulty devices are replaced quickly
      • Managing the lifecycle of devices, including disposal
      • Preparing for emerging technology is key

        25% of businesses believe that workspace analytics tools, augmented reality (AR) tools and micro-learning/training will have a role in the workplace environment within the year.

        Smart technology is moving from the realm of science fiction to real workplace applications. At Dimension Data, we have recently worked on a proof of concept with a major airline exploring how AR glasses could be used by flight attendants to understand the needs of passengers (e.g. ‘this customer requires Kosher food’) to provide a more personalised service.

        However, while the research indicates that organisations are ready to invest, it will be important to understand the huge practical implications of getting the technology to work—including taking the time to focus on ‘back end’ technologies that will support emerging technologies. To get ahead of the curve, organisations need to start:

        • Building networks capable of handling emerging tech
        • Ensuring all the underlying computing power is in place to support it
        • Planning on how to deal with all relevant security issues.
        • Collaboration with line of business (LOB) is essential

          39% of organisations get significant input from LOB when defining their digital workplace strategy

          When it comes to defining and creating their digital workplace, organisations are increasingly recognising the need to gain buy-in from all parts of the organisation – in particular, collaboration with LOBs is becoming essential.

          However, although they are involved in some aspects of the decision-making process, what is interesting is that the results show that this isn’t necessarily focusing on the area of workstyle innovation, where we would expect LOB managers are best placed to provide insight. Since LOB leaders can monitor first hand which apps and devices their teams use and talk about every day, and they can measure which innovations are boosting productivity, the organisations which do involve LOB leaders at this stage will draw dividends.

          The report suggests that the C-level is still driving overall strategy, however it is becoming more likely that this is alongside LOB. What is clear is that the two levels need to work together more than was the case in the past. If LOBs and C-level aren’t working closely, success rates will drop.

          You can improve communication and collaboration between the C-level and LOBs by:

          • Encouraging dialogue between teams
          • Incorporating LOB leaders into decisions about strategy and products
          • Building smart and virtual meeting spaces

          As our results show, our relationship with workplace technology is evolving fast in a wide range of areas. The organisations which begin thinking strategically about how they respond to these changes will be best placed to capitalise on the opportunities they present.

          This post drew on results from The Digital Workplace Report, which can be downloaded here.

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