Oliver Bendig, CTO of Matrix42 explores the future inclusion of technology in the workspace.
The cloud, mobility and big data analytics – they all define the modern workplace, preparing the ground for the future workspace. As new generations demand more flexible and mobile working environments, modern workspaces are also becoming increasingly complex.
Technology breakthroughs and disruptive innovations are creating new industries and, with new jobs emerging, the future of work as we know it is changing rapidly. It is hard to tell just exactly what the future workspace will look like, given the rapid pace of change seen in the past decade.
However, there are emerging trends in workspace management that we are seeing in IT departments across all businesses as they prepare for the future.
The workspace as we know it is evolving in many aspects, one of which is mobility. The focus is less on where you work from and more on what you actually do. As the Millennials enter the workforce and Babyboomers are leaving it, employees’ demands are changing.
Before, Babyboomers were used to the idea of work being done from a set location and helped by one or two devices – this is no longer the case for the younger generations. In only a few years, traditional workspaces could be dissolved, whilst working from co-working spaces or your favourite café might become the norm for more than just entrepreneurs and freelancers.
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The future workspace will be much more personalised, where the workspace knows you and your needs at any step of the way, in any business context. For example, let’s say you’ve got a regular meeting in a recurrent location that requires the same documents. The workspace of tomorrow will detect your location and, in conjunction with parameters such as time, and other recognised participants, will automatically pull up all relevant data, emails, apps and documents that you need for that meeting.
Take taxis for example. Uber’s app knows where you are, when you need the service and it does not require you to spend any time on making the payment. This way the company puts the user’s experience first and simplified the application service so that all you need to do to access the service is push a button and not waste time on the phone providing your location.
Just like Uber, the workspace of tomorrow will look into removing a lot of the noise from what is now thought to be “the only way”. Nobody would have imagined a few years ago that payments for taxi rides were going to be automated and moved to the cloud. But this is the type of effortless, liquid experience that employees are expecting inside the workplace just in the same way they do when they’re not at work. Such advances are having a big impact on digital transformation within the workspace, giving users the same level of transparency in a work environment with apps that make the overall experience a lot more convenient.
The workspace of the future will give continuity between devices and will allow you to finish reading an email you had started reading on your phone, on virtually any device that has got a display.
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Any screen will be an extension of your workspace without compromising the security of your work documents, allowing the user to enjoy the same liquid experience mentioned above.
Shaping tomorrow’s technology
In order to imagine the workplace of tomorrow, we need to look at the challenges of today’s workspace and how technology can be developed to meet these.
One of the biggest challenges in today’s workspace is increased complexity, coming from the amount of devices consumers use to get work done. This explosion of devices is difficult for CIOs to manage, especially since employees also have a tendency to use work devices for personal purposes. It is a fact that employees use personal email, for instance, on their work devices and that this exposes companies to great risks. The ‘consumerisation of IT’ creates a lot of complexity for both the company (from a security perspective), but also for the users (who find it difficult to find the right data on the right application and device).
As part of this consumerisation, many companies are now encouraging their employees to embrace what is becoming a popular trend – bring your own device (BYOD) also known as bring your own technology (BYOT), which in short allows employees to work using their own devices in an effort to reduce costs. The consequences of this trend are obvious – without proper security measures in place, this can significantly put the company’s sensitive information at risk, and therefore we can expect more advanced techniques to address BYOD in the future.
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It will be vital, therefore, for organisations to invest in good platforms, in order to simplify how offices work and for employees to be able to access everything they would need through one portal, regardless of form factor or device.
Another challenge businesses need to address is the fact that the workspace needs to become device-independent. Companies need to get away from the device-centric management approach and think ahead, looking at their workspaces from a user-centric point of view, given that the workspace of the future will be device-agnostic.
Challenges aside, it is clear that the workspace of the future will be more collaborative and inclusive of a multitude of devices. But what I really want to see is my question answered before I have even asked it.