How co-creation can help you face the wave of modern workplace change

By Robin Lipscomb, - Future WorkplaceFuture Workplace 2025Future Workplace 2025 - ArticlesProductivity

Joining forces to develop new agile working solutions that can deliver a competitive edge

In recent times in the IT industry, I’ve been left feeling more and more like I’ve just awoken from a rather deep slumber. Not so much comatose but perhaps a little disappointed or even disillusioned if I’m honest, but things are certainly changing…

The ‘safe’ & comfy traditional ICT working environment many of us grew up experiencing, has substantially changed. For the most part, it’s been for the better, but what many fail to see is just how much it’s changed or even why it was necessary for the metamorphosis to occur in the first place.

Opening the door to outsiders

As Charles Darwin once remarked in his theory of the evolution of man, “biologically we have evolved”.

Not quite the same scale of evolution perhaps in ICT, but CXOs have had their eyes re-opened as they re-imagine new digital operating models. They’re now embracing this delightful refreshing working paradigm by partnering with one another to co-create and develop more interesting and most importantly more ‘agile’ working solutions.

These new digital workplace solutions by their very nature are driving tangible business outcomes and value, which will ultimately propel their businesses beyond the plethora of competition and the gaggle of digital natives who seemingly want stand up services in a heartbeat overnight!

Where once we saw full-on competition, we now see a more collaborative, multi-dimensional view of the business world. And it’s rather nice to see.

For me, it’s encouraging to see how so many companies are actually joining forces, running garage or hackathon events and starting to show off some of their previously hidden ‘homework’.

They’re exploiting gaps in their knowledge, workforce skills or ability to deliver ‘faster’ by partnering to win deals with new, innovative providers. They’re building solutions, ideas and concepts that resonate with an eager customer base, all of whom are desperate to achieve a competitive advantage in this new digital era.

From a personal perspective, it’s quite fantastic to be involved. It’s wonderful to see how pooling ideas and skills in the workforce empower us to develop at a rate of knots that simply isn’t possible in some ‘traditional’ companies with fixed mind-sets, cultures and employees.

And therein lies the challenge – how do we take customers on a digital workforce journey while maintaining their integrity and their core values and ensuring they remain profitable in what is now a very challenging and fast-paced business world?

Embracing diversity

This generational diversity coupled with the younger, more dynamic folks we now have in the workforce are certainly the catalyst for change. But some of us ‘Xenialls’ are also responsible for driving substantive change and mind-sets as well.

I personally believe that when the multi-generational forces of change collide, we will witness a star-bursting cacophony of ideas. And those ideas might just need to be guided and streamlined by the wise ‘grey-haired owls’ in order to encourage and disseminate the most value from them.

The language and the embodiment of ICT has and will continue to change. As will all the frameworks, methodologies and ideals around the way even the most modest of things are delivered to our stakeholders as we progress such models.

And as we hurtle towards 2025 at an alarming rate we’re starting to see more and more of these types of multi-vendor, multi-customer conglomerates coming to the fore. And it really doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon.

But trust me, it is going to change.

Preparing for the brand new world of the virtual workplace

Imagine a virtual world where resource pools or communities who do not have any allegiance to a specific company become ‘coders for hire’ and come together – or ‘swarm’ across the globe – to co-create and actively co-develop on a cloud-based code fabric that is instantiated via a bidding process to expedite the delivery of value to a specific company, stakeholder or requester.

This concept of an application or code fabric is that it would be pooled via shared workloads which are integrated and then securely delivered to the end user community. Simple right?

In principle, yes. However, the approach would need to carefully consider the governance of the nationalities and member states participating in such a scheme. That along with the integrity of the security construct as well as intellectual property, the payments mechanism and a plethora of other things required to underpin a defined and safe methodology.

Now, I hear what you are thinking, and no, this is not an anonymous block-chain model that I am advocating. All actors and players would be known and in the open – perhaps they would be scored or rated based on their previous exploits or profiles ala LinkedIn or perhaps a member state metric where they would pay to be members once they are validated based on proven track records.

They would need to be responsible and accountable for the delivery of their e-2-e code – it would be moderated in a very different way to today!

We will, nevertheless, soon start to see players entering this new co-creation market, unlocking the diversity of the skills available across the globe. It always surprises me when I think about folks that only ever look at recruitment of people from their own region or country and then wonder why they don’t bring innovation to the fore.

Think about all those diverse multi-country skills out there that remain untapped and not utilized to their maximum potential. It’s scary but worse than that, it’s shameful!

Diverse recruitment within the virtual communities will become the cornerstone of active and agile development of such co-creation streams of work. We need to embrace change!

Heck, not that I am advocating this approach but there are kids in their bedrooms right now creating code that is far more superior than some folks who have been in the industry coding for 20 plus years. But we don’t acknowledge this. Should we? Are we still holding on to archaic ways of working because we have always done things this way?

If companies really want to stand out in their own sectors and survive the tsunami of change that is coming, they will need to place a different lens on the way that they do business. 52% of senior business leaders say that their business will substantially rethink their approaches over the next five years.

They and we will need to think about how consumers want to interoperate with their companies. They will need to do this quickly or potentially risk being seen as the laggards or dinosaurs of the industry.

Look what happened to high street favorites like Woolworths, Blockbuster and Comet that did not evolve and did not remain relevant in the midst of change – they died!

They were eaten by the digital delivery framework that is so prevalent today. It’s worth re-enforcing that since the year 2000, 50% of fortune 500 companies have disappeared. Now, that is a scary stat for those pushing back on change!

If your competitors are evolving and you are not, or the changes that you do make are superficial then you had better be a brand as strong as the likes of Apple or you might be in trouble. But even Apple need to continually re-invent itself. Since Steve Jobs, in my opinion, the brand has sadly slipped in the innovation stakes – it’s just not that noticeable yet.

Therefore, in order to embrace such change, we’ll clearly need infrastructure which is much more reliable & pervasive. We’ll also need to encourage folks to think much more about delivering business value in a new and diverse market.

In my view, we must approach the brave new world with a simple but effective mantra aligned to providing simple, contextual and personalized services that are delivered in an agile, performant and creative way by multi co-creationists!

Read more about co-creating an agile working environment with Fujitsu.

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