Once again we’re heading towards the end of another year…. I am not sure if its age or the much quoted “rate of change” in our industry but 12 months seems to feel shorter and shorter!
2017 has been a fascinating year in a number of ways. We’ve seen key strategy and organisational changes from a number of our key partners, a major ramp up in activity of our customers and the market in their quest for “Digital Transformation”, and as ever, technology has continued to evolve, morph and transform our thoughts of what is and could be possible.
Before I turn my thoughts to what the next 12 months may have in store, let’s recap on the key topics and themes that have dominated my agenda this year. I’ll keep it to a “top 3”
1. Adoption is Key for Digital Workplace Success.
I often cite in my presentations to colleagues and customers alike, that my focus is less on the technology, and more on driving cultural and user behavioural change to maximise the benefits of Digital Workplace transformations. Throughout 2017 adoption has been the most prevalent topic of conversation. Many customers have made sound technology and platform decisions, have invested wisely, often deployed modern features but have then struggled to achieve the anticipated business value and benefits. The reason for this is invariably down to poor user adoption. This is not communication as we have classically known it, but a more meaningful, ongoing effort to understand the requirements of users, deliver solutions and capability in context of their needs, and then campaign users to embrace the features and drive changes to their behaviour and working practices.
As far back as February I signposted the tensions that exist in this area and it has been a prevalent theme throughout the year. We often say we don’t deliver technology for technology sake, but it would appear we might have been doing that and have failed to create the connection to the users. Expect more on this in 2018 as the transformation agenda ramps up.
2. “Evergreen IT”
The dramatic change across all sectors of our industry to “as a Service” is having two profound and related effects. The first is a transition in budgets from a traditional “Capex” model towards an operating expenditure (Opex) bias, but also the inherent rate and pace of change of these platforms and the impacts and pressures this has on customers (both at a business and a technology level).
In Computacenter, and more widely we’ve labelled this “Evergreen IT” to reflect the need to maintain platforms at a highly current level. Quite a challenge for the large scale enterprises we deal with when these changes can be quarterly, or at best bi-annually and represent a lot of “heavy lifting”
Most of 2017 has been dominated in this context by Windows 10 Evergreen (Windows as a Service) though the concept pervades all cloud platforms (e.g. SaaS including Office 365, Salesforce, Workday etc). We’ve spent a lot of time working with key vendors, building robust service models and educating our customers and the market on what this shift actually means. It is a profound and fundamental shift in our entire industry and we’re just at the start of delivering and operating in this way, but it’s certainly here to stay!
3. “Small t” transformation
Had a small personal fight with myself to pick theme number 3 of my self-imposed limit, but in reflecting on the year, I’ve gone with “small t” transformation.
First I need to explain what I mean by this. We are engaged in a raft of transformational activity across a vast array of customers. Many of them are doing fascinating and ground breaking things in their B2C business model which is to be heralded widely. What we’ve tried to do is encourage such ambition into the end user enablement agenda, i.e. the “Digital Workplace”. Through Digithons, workshops and other engagements throughout 2017 (and before), we’ve seen and heard all kinds of topics and agenda in this area.
However, perhaps controversially I would define what we’ve seen and heard (in the main) as transformation with a small t. The requirements and objectives have been around projects that you might term as “fix the basics”, “quick win” or “foundational” (I prefer the latter term) to address immediate and existing challenges and frustrations in the user experience and ways of working (poor WiFi, ineffective meeting room systems, aged hardware etc). Each of these things are VERY important, to quote the term above they represent the FOUNDATION upon which an effective Digital Workplace needs to be built.
However we need to move quickly to a more connected agenda, looking at how we enable and support business outcomes – really exploiting the tools and functionality to challenge and modernise business processes and ways of working – as that’s where the opportunity and return from the Digital Workplace investments exists.
Hopefully this blog does not end on a negative note. There has been lots of great development and activity in 2017 and we expect it to continue and accelerate further in 2018. But this is largely the story of the year (my year) and so inevitably will be a core part of my focus for 2018.
As this blog has now got quite lengthy I’ll defer my star gazing to the 2018 agenda and cover this in the next blog post…..in early January after a bit of a rest!