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The future digital workplace – how to create a more agile, empowered and engaged workforce

By Stafford Bond, - Insight

Digital technologies are changing the workplace for everyone. We’re seeing elements of the traditional workplace disappear as advancements in technology such as the Internet of Things and hyper-connectivity along with enhanced collaboration solutions, which are then coupled with data analytics means that we are seeing more and more cognitive and context aware services becoming available.

This is an evolution close to my heart, and I was pleased to discuss this topic during a recent Google Hangout On Air. I was joined by Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft, and Tony Crabbe, a Business Psychologist and author of Busy: How to thrive in a world of too much.

One thing was instantly clear – we exist in a time of increasing expectation on technology to enable digital transformation. Companies are looking for the tools and techniques to help employees communicate better, share ideas, and deliver value back to the organization, employees, and customers.

Let’s not forget this is also the first time we’ve had so many generations in the workplace at the same time and therefore how do you provide personalized services that meet their varying demands? What’s more, some employees have grown up as digital natives, never knowing a world pre-internet or pre-mobile phones. Tony, echoed this during our discussion:

“The scale of change over the last 20 years on fundamental psychological processes is unknown in human history,” he said, as humans “we can’t evolve in that time, so we have to be intentional in the way we adapt to some of these changes.”

This presents a real challenge for CIOs looking to navigate these often uncharted waters, using technology as an enabler and striving for competitive advantage while keeping the business running and keeping an eye on the costs. How can companies harness all these transformational digital technologies to drive effective innovation?

Could the answer be a return to the roots for the CIO? Dave thought so:

The original remit of the CIO and IT department was to enable the business to be successful.  I think we have to find a way of helping them do that.”

The way in which CIOs view their workplace investment should be changing. The days of investing large sums of money in a workplace transformation and then running this for 5 years before the next workplace transformation are gone. CIO’s need to be providing a workplace that meets the requirements of the business but is flexible enough to incorporate and take advantage of technological advancements in an ever-greening fashion.

One of the biggest shifts in the last 5 years that CIOs need to be considering is the move towards ‘as-a-service’ solutions. The key to success for the CIO is adopting these transformative technologies whilst deriving value from legacy investments and transitioning ‘shadow IT’ into a positive and secure scenario that empowers tech-savvy employees.

Dave also stated:

“One of the greatest trends – and you’re seeing this trend across the things we make (at Microsoft) like Windows 10 – is that this is a consumer world. The technology you use at work should be as cool, functional and facilitating as what you use outside of work; but you want to do that in a framework of enterprise resilience”.

For me, what’s clear is CIOs cannot ignore these trends, instead they must embrace them in order to empower their workforce and ultimately enable a competitive and prosperous business. The other key thing that the CIO needs to consider is that without adopting these technologies they run the risk of not attracting future talent to their organization. Luckily, there has never been a more exciting time for the CIO to be a transformative influence within their organization, marrying business goals with the talent and the tools for success.

Do you agree with the points of view expressed in the Google Hangout? What do you think companies need to think about when creating the digital workplace of the future?

Our video was produced as part of our Digital Workplaces series. Feel free to check out our White Book of Digital Workplace Evolution and continue to explore how the lines between consumer and enterprise software are blurring in our post on Windows 10 being the future workplace catalyst. Click here for the next blog post in the series that looks at Windows 10 in the field .

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