Top IT trends to watch in 2016: workspaces for tomorrow
- By 2018, 80% of B2C and 60% of B2B enterprises will overhaul their ‘digital front door’ to support 1,000–10,000 times more customers and customer touch points. (IDC).
- 68% of US online Gen Zers (ages 18 to 24) with smartphones have researched a product on their phone at least monthly (Forrester).
- By 2017, over 50% of organisations’ IT spending will be for third-platform (social, mobile, analytics, cloud) technologies, solutions, and services, rising to over 60% by 2020 (IDC).
Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen radical changes in the way we work. The catchphrase, ‘work isn’t a place I go to, it’s something I do,’ has become a familiar refrain. In fact, images of people with laptops working from the top of a mountain or next to the ocean have become somewhat overused. It’s not only about where anymore – it’s now about what and why.
The user is the disruptive force in workspaces for tomorrow. We need to look over the shoulder of the woman with her tablet next to the lake, or the consumer with her smartwatch in the store. We need to ask: who are they and what are they doing? Are they talking to your business via multiple channels, or about your business on social media? Are they your employees, your customers, or your partners?
Workspaces for tomorrow is about evolving your employee and customer experience to accelerate your digital business. It should seamlessly blend mobility, communication, collaboration, and multiple customer contact channels into a connected business. The 2016 trends we’ve identified here will demonstrate how the market is moving towards that imperative.
Trend 1: Work behaviours to be shaped more radically by social media
Much of social collaboration is enabled by consumer-focused tools. Technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and many others have given rise to robust and business-oriented counterparts that offer audio, video, file-sharing, and workflow integration. These include applications such as Cisco’s ‘team-rooming’ solution Spark, Microsoft’s Yammer and Skype for Business, Viber, WhatsApp, Slack, and many others. These technologies encourage the creation of communities; living, working, shopping, and interacting ‘out loud’; sharing ideas; easily finding people and information; collaboration; and faster decision-making. Such behaviours will make their way into more and more organisations next year, allowing end users to work together seamlessly from different geographies, and at different times of the day.
Trend 2: Enterprise mobility moving beyond ‘bring your own device’
Enterprise mobility is more than allowing your people to use their mobile devices for work. It’s now about enabling end-users to be more productive by moving enterprise-class applications from the desktop to handheld devices of all kinds, and all areas of the business. In fact, we see mobility moving further beyond the ‘carpeted space’ in 2016. Not only knowledge workers will become more mobile, but also field service workers, retail personnel, factory managers, and more. The challenge will be that today’s networks often still cater for yesterday’s traffic. So a stronger move to a mobile-friendly network across the whole business will have to become a more urgent requirement.
Some businesses and industries may even feel compelled to completely redesign themselves from the bottom up using a mobile-first approach. However, to take full advantage of mobility, the underlying architecture requires re-engineering, which would then enable more seamless business process redesign.
Cloud computing will play a central role in accelerating pilot mobility projects without having to make major capex investments. Organisations will use data analysis to track end-user behaviour and measure the success of mobility investments in terms of their cost versus productivity ratios.
Trend 3: Increase in the business use of connected devices, data, and analytics
It’s important to remember that end-user environments also extend into the retail space. This is where we’ll see a greater adoption of connected devices and sensors that can track people and their behaviour, generating a constant flow of data. Again, networks will be critical in these environments. In order for retail and other organisations to derive the most value from their data, they would have to ensure that the data they analyse comes from the right sources and is delivered securely, accurately, and at the right time. The network is essential in achieving data integrity.
With an appropriate network in place, more and more useful information will come to light, such as which routes customers take through the aisles, at which displays they spend more time, known as ‘eyes on glass’, and which products they eventually select and buy. That data can be applied in how and where products are placed in-store and how they’re advertised at the moment of decision.
Similar applications can be applied in the office space too, for example, tracking how many employees enter a building or meeting room. When analysed and applied through automated management systems, this data will help control equipment such as lights, videoconferencing equipment, and air conditioning to help reduce energy use and cost.
Trend 4: Growing challenge to balance agility and standardisation, thanks to cloud
Virtually every collaboration platform today has a cloud-based deployment option. This means that the barrier to entry is almost zero. Business units no longer need to wait for corporate approval or the blessing of IT to make investments in these areas, which leads to what the market calls ‘bimodal IT’.
Anyone with a credit card and access to the Internet has the ability to deploy whatever technology best fits their needs. This is a significant shift in organisations that traditionally had to rely on IT to deploy any type of new technology. The costs used to be high and the deployments complicated — but not anymore. What they often lose sight of, however, is the impact this might have on the corporate networking infrastructure, which may not be able to handle the increase and difference in the data generated by cloud-based applications.
Consequently, getting IT and the rest of the organisation to align – with the need for agility on the one hand, and the requirement to standardise and economise on the
other – will be a growing challenge in the new year.
Trend 5: Readying the workspace for millennials
By 2020, millennials are projected to be half of the entire US workforce. And the rest of the world is taking notice. These people grew up with the many devices, applications, and platforms we use today. They’re used to being connected, collaborative, and mobile. They’re also used to sharing ideas, communicating through social media, working from anywhere, having a voice, and learning about what interests them.
Most organisations will feel increasing pressure in the next few years to adapt to this changing workforce as baby boomers are starting to retire. This is a major factor that will shape the future of work as organisations seeking to attract and retain the best millennial talent need to begin to adapt not only their environments, but also their cultures. Workspaces for tomorrow need to embrace the workers of tomorrow.
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