By Stephen Kelly, who is Dimension Data Ireland’s Country Manager, a role he took on in 2015. Before joining Dimension Data, Stephen worked for IBM Ireland for 14 years, running their Systems Group for the final three years. Stephen started his career in Siemens Nixdorf – Fujitsu Siemens. Stephen studied at the Dublin Institute of Technology and has a keen interest in science, technology and sports.

Employees are disrupting the workplaces of today, using technology as their tool to do so. This disruption is driving the notion of ‘digital business’ – an important part of the ‘digital transformation economy’ – in which new business designs are being created that blur the digital and physical worlds. Business models, markets and entire organisations are being transformed in the process. Indeed, in its 2017 forecast, IDC predicted that this evolution in our approach to conducting business would mean that “by 2020, 50% of the Global 2000 will see the majority of their business depend on their ability to create digitally enhanced products, services, and experiences”.

Naturally, businesses are beginning to react to these changes; initially to ensure their survival, but also to capitalise on the opportunities digital business presents. However, many organisations are unsure about what lies around the corner. New innovations such as wearable tech, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) are notable examples of the topics businesses are struggling to sufficiently comprehend or respond to. A thorough digital workplace strategy has therefore become a must-have for modern businesses looking to navigate the evolving technology landscape. Yet, we recently found that 60% of European organisations lack a formal plan of action.

Fully understanding the future workspace is essential, which is why we commission research on this topic on a regular basis. The most recent report surveyed 850 IT and business leaders across 15 countries and seven industries about digital transformation in their organisations. The results helped us identify five ways the modern workplace is changing.

  1. Employees are key drivers of change

Employee expectations are changing. Armed with advanced consumer technology, they have little patience for enterprise IT which limits their ability to work in the ways they want. They want (and expect) to work in a flexible, collaborative environment. Our research found that 49% of European organisations say they will have some employees working from home full-time two years from now, and 76% say they will have some employees working from home part-time in two years.

  1. From basic to sophisticated device strategies

Mobile devices have become an instrumental part of modern work; many employees now simply cannot do their jobs without them. However, the ever-increasing array of devices – including laptops, smartphones, tablets and wearables – creates a steady flow of new challenges. Whether it’s bring your own device (BYOD) policies or the adoption of wearable tech, digital strategies must keep up with the latest developments.

50% of organisations say that managing and leveraging the proliferation of mobile devices in the enterprise is of high importance. Key to getting the most value from these devices is thinking about how the business can manage them. Until now, many businesses have only been able to provide basic management, ensuring devices are secure with mobile device management policies, for instance. However, our research suggests that organisations are starting to develop more sophisticated policies to support their enterprise devices.

A more comprehensive approach goes above and beyond simply providing the equipment; businesses should ensure that devices function properly, that employees have access to the data or applications they need, and that the lifecycle of devices is well managed.

  1. The perception of success is changing, but we must not forget the foundations

Rather than focusing purely on savings and budgets, businesses are paying increased attention to the way IT can support productivity and growth, which is a significant shift in perspective. 40% of organisations now frame digital strategies equally on improving business processes, gaining competitive advantage and growing revenues. Does this tally with how you measure success in your business?

Meanwhile, more than 20% of businesses believe that workspace analytics tools, AR tools and machine learning/training will have a role to play in the workplace environment within the next year. To stay ahead of the curve, it’s important to build networks capable of handling emerging tech, ensuring all underlying computing power is ready to support it, and that a plan is in place to deal with all relevant security issues.

  1. Line-of-business (LOB) collaboration around digital strategy is on the rise

When it comes to defining and creating a digital workplace, organisations are increasingly recognising the need to gain buy-in from all parts of the business, in particular, collaborating with LOBs. Indeed, 39% of firms now get significant input from LOB when defining a digital strategy.

However, our research suggests that while the C-level is still driving overall strategy, it is becoming more likely to be alongside LOB. It’s clear that these two levels need to work together now more than ever. Communication and collaboration between the two can be achieved by encouraging dialogue, incorporating LOB leaders into decisions about strategy and products, and by building smart and virtual meeting spaces.

  1. Using trusted partners to implement change is vital

With many organisations struggling to deal with the challenges presented above, even large enterprises are finding a lack of the necessary skills and resources within their teams to ‘go it alone’. As a result, 78% of businesses now enlist the support of external partners when planning, designing and deploying workplace technology solutions.

Capitalising on modern workplace trends

Evidently, our approach to work is rapidly evolving. The organisations that begin thinking strategically about how they respond to digital transformation will be best placed to capitalise on the opportunities it presents.

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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