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4 digital workplace trends from Fujitsu Forum 2016

By Kam Dhillon, - Insight

It’s been an exciting year for technology in general, but what’s been even more exciting is seeing how quickly technology is changing the way we work.

In November we attended Fujitsu Forum 2016, and with several thousand technology fans flooding through Munich’s ICM Centre we were certainly in the right place to explore the latest digital workplace trends.

There were four key workplace themes that came through during the event:

  1. User experience matters
  2. Automation and analytics are driving proactivity
  3. Culture is king
  4. The future is virtual

Let’s take a look at each of those in more detail…

1. User experience matters

The way people want to interact with their service desk has evolved – now the focus should be firmly on the user experience.

When you think about user experience (UX) your mind likely focuses on consumer brands or websites. But with technology blurring the lines between work and home, UX is becoming a key component in any new IT development.

People want self-service technology, and they expect it to work. And work well. This was the argument Fujitsu’s Mike Matthews made as he addressed a packed room on the second day of the event.

“If we download an app on our smartphone and it doesn’t work straight away,” he said, “we simply move on to the next one. And if most people don’t go past the first or second page of Google, why should we expect them to do that on our IT database?”

He talked about Apple and how most people don’t pick up the phone when they need support from that brand. Why? Because they can get a better user experience elsewhere – online, through social media, via the Genius Bar.

Mike suggested the workplace is no longer just an office full of people Monday to Friday. It’s everywhere and anywhere, and IT has to rise to the challenge accordingly.

“You have to understand user behaviour,” he said. “What are people really asking for, what are they trying to do? In order for support to be ubiquitous and for people to be productive, we have to give them a user experience that supports that.

“That’s why we need to cater for normal consumer behaviour.”

He suggested the future workplace will be a “blend” of technology and people skills.

“You can give people the tools to be more proactive,” he said, “But you don’t want them to just follow a script – they need to be able to look at trends and make decisions.”

Give the full talk a watch for more information about the Next-Generation Service Desk

 

2. Automation and analytics are driving proactivity

Technology has the power to dramatically enhance the way we work – it can make us more productive and effective and give us greater flexibility.

But when your workplace relies on technology, the old approach to IT – i.e. wait until it’s broken then fix it – simply isn’t suitable.

You need to be proactive – finding and fixing problems before they really become problems. The way you do that is through intelligent support, i.e. finding the real-time insight in your data that will help you take a predictive approach.

That predictive element is incredibly important in today’s fast-moving markets, and few companies understand this challenge more than McDonald’s – a group that has drastically transformed its restaurants using digital technology that connects front-of-house to the kitchen.

As the firm’s Head of IT Douglas Baker said in his talk on the second day of Fujitsu Forum, “Tech is something I have to ensure remains on all the time. The days of saying we can fix it tomorrow are gone.”

You may have noticed the changes inside McDonald’s restaurants yourself, from self-service machines to a ticketing system that avoids the need for traditional queuing. Back in the kitchens there are digital screens telling staff what to cook and when to cook it.

If any of that technology fails it means customers don’t get served, and naturally that is not an option for a company that has built its reputation on speed of service.

So McDonald’s partnered with Fujitsu to create a proactive team of engineers – one fit for the reality of a 21st-century digitally enabled workplace.

But with that proactivity must come flexibility, Douglas argued.

“Our processes are constantly evolving now,” he said. “Even in six months we’ve changed dramatically from where we started. We can instantly react to problems without having to wait for shipped parts. That’s a huge step forward.”

Check out the full talk to learn more about intelligent engineering

3. Culture is king

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” Jat Sahi said as he addressed a crowded room in what was the final talk of the event.

While technology is the driver for digital transformation, no amount of digital tools will get you to where you need to be if you don’t have the right culture in place to support the process.

And the culture necessary to support the workplace of today differs greatly from the culture many organisations are used to, particularly larger businesses with legacy systems and long-serving staff.

“There are traditional ways of doing business,” Jat argued, “and then ways that reflect the needs of the modern digital world.”

And the key difference between them might surprise you: it could be as simple as removing the fear of failure.

“The old way tries to avoid failure while the new way embraces it,” Jat said.

“Organisations historically defined excellence as avoiding failure at all costs. But you don’t demand excellence by avoiding failure – you demand it by learning and making mistakes.”

But achieving a culture is also about new ways of thinking when it comes to business strategy.

To get the best out of you workforce, Jat argued, you should do away with the old idea of having a ‘vision’ and create a purpose instead – a message about what you’re going to do rather than where you want to be.

“Purpose has no end state,” he said. “It’s ongoing, it’s there every day. And that drives different behaviours.”

He used the example of a car manufacturer. If it had a vision it might say it wants to be the biggest motor company on the planet. But its mission could simply be to help people travel the world.

Or look at Google’s mission: “To organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Or how about this from a certain technology company I happen to work for: “The constant pursuit of innovation.”

As you can see, these statements don’t indicate a specific end goal, but rather encourage ongoing improvement and creativity.

That, Jat argued, is the difference between traditional and digital culture.

Here’s the full talk for more on creating a digital culture.

4. The future is virtual

Virtual reality (VR) has been a huge talking point this year both in a business and consumer context.

But one of the most exciting talking points of the event came from Microsoft’s James Akrigg in his talk about the workplace benefits of Windows 10.

Talking about the digital workplace of the future, James suggested we’ll one day be using ‘holoportation’ to collaborate with customers and colleagues in a 3D virtual environment.

Let’s say you were designing a new shop floor for a retail store: you could create a virtual 3D mock-up of that shop floor and then someone wearing a holoportation device could project a 3D scan of themselves into it.

You could draw people in from all over the world and collaborate in real-time in a realistic and fully customisable environment.

“This is way beyond teleconferencing,” James said. “This is mixed reality – the ability to collaborate with people anywhere in the world.”

Add real-time translation into the mix (something James believes isn’t that far away), and the workplace of the future is beginning to look very exciting indeed!

Check out the full talk for more on Windows 10 in the workplace

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