The Future of Work

Defining the Future of Work

The premise of the recent Ovum Future of Work Summit, sponsored by Computacenter and Microsoft, was that the ways in which businesses work today is being fundamentally changed by mobile and social technology.

Over the course of the day presenters from a variety of organisations discussed how technology is redefining roles in organisations and enterprise social networks. If adopted effectively it can enable organisations to be agile, outcome-focused and more efficient, while at the same time increasing employee satisfaction, backed by new opportunities for performance analytics

There were 3 key themes that ran through the discussion topics

  • The Multi-Screen Workplace
  • Mobility
  • Social Enterprise

 The Multi-Screen Workplace

Users are no longer using a single (fixed) device on which they conduct their work, and, in common with a range of other research in the area, people are increasingly time/work-slicing across a range of different device types from laptops, tablets and smartphones and in various locations.  This is a blending of the workstyles with “work-life balance” requiring the provision of the right device for each user scenario.

The proliferation of tablets and other mobile devices are no doubt influencing this trend, as is the consumarisation of IT and the changing expectation of the new workforce entering the market (Gen Y). 

The general sentiment was the rate of change in the market is increasing  and that the consumerisation influence has led to penetration of Microsoft’s traditional enterprise dominance, with Apple and to a lesser extent Android obtaining Enterprise endorsement.

 Mobility

A portion of the event content  focussed on the technical solutions and tools that enable new mobile technologies to enter the enterprise environment, and the needs and solutions for appropriate control of these devices in the enterprise.

Clearly there are a range of form factors available but more importantly are the procurement models (BYoD vs CYoD vs COPE) and Platform types (Android, Apple etc) that are driving the need for a number of solutions. These could include MDM, MAM, MCM, Containerisation and Virtualisation – essentially these solutions can be attributed to the particular ownership model that is in play, or the range of controls that available. 

Beyond the technical controls (toolset) aspect, it was generally noted that there is a market maturity occurring, with organisations having typically deployed a tactical solution to resolve a C-Level BYO problem, but the vendors are quickly evolving up the stack into Application and Content Management solutions.  The major problem highlighted was how to resolve the “Corporate Dropbox” issue and that the successful vendors in this market will be those that view ECM as a central pillar of their strategy moving forwards.

Social Enterprise

There is a consensus that enterprise social/collaboration is a rapidly evolving area, borne out of a significant changing of the relationships between employees and IT departments – again manifested through the consumerisation trend.  There was a sense of the social/collaboration tools providing a real alternative to the email obsession, as well as more “human centred needs” of collaboration.

However, it is recognised that “social” solutions are challenging to implement and get right, for a number of reasons – they can be counter intuitive to some organisation cultures, supporting the views about the necessary sponsorship and focus to get it delivered, but when done and done correctly can deliver significant efficiency, value and engagement back into the business.

In a nutshell

  • Emerging trend of workslicing mean people are using multiple devices to work in new ways and at times that are new to enterprise
  • Drivers for major transition around mobility and introduction of consumer technology are Generation Y employees
  • There is a general sense amongst employees that they are “working with yesterday’s tools”
  • Enterprise IT is “normalising” with new solutions eroding Microsoft’s original dominance
  • 56.8% of FTE’s use their personal device to access corporate data (Ovum BYOD Study 2013)
  • The multiscreen workplace encompasses a range of behaviours/models including BYoD, CYoD, COPE – there yet to be consensus on which option is best/right
  • “Mobile First” is the ethos that companies must live by and adopt moving forwards. 
  • “Mobile First” will have same level of impact in Enterprise as the introduction of the internet
  • Development of a  new genre of collaboration software and tools, but there is a challenge in  recognising value and use cases for social tools in enterprise

 The rate of change in workplace technologies will not abate, with consumerisation and the demands of Gen Y employees entering the workforce, the pressures to evolve will continue. But as organisation and the nature of the work we do evolves the contemporary workplace needs to be on that can support today’s needs, whilst being agile enough to accommodate future strategies, working practices and technologies.

 

 

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About Paul Bray

Paul is Computacenter’s Chief Technologist for Digital Workplace @PSBray

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