The digital workplace - IT’s biggest challenge?

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As if CIOs did not have enough to think about with digital business, cloud, bimodal IT and automation, the next big challenge looms on the horizon - the digital workplace.

The opportunity is huge. A successful digital workplace is not only a means of attracting talent it also maximizes the creative potential of the workforce and enables new ways of working that deliver better business outcomes. So much so that Gartner predicts that by 2020 the greatest source of competitive advantage for 30 percent of organizations will come from the workforce’s ability to creatively exploit digital technology.

I also see the digital workplace as a foundation stone for any organization that is approaching artificial intelligence and automation as an opportunity to empower employees to create value in new ways. It puts people, and what they need to be more collaborative and creative when administrative tasks are automated, in the spotlight. 

At its simplest, the digital workplace is one that offers employees anytime, anywhere access to technology devices and services in a way that boosts engagement, creative thinking and agility. It’s also a melting pot of technology, culture, interior design, business strategy and more.  Which is why it is possibly IT’s biggest challenge..

We are talking to more and more customers about digital workplace strategy,and these are the things we are learning:

  1. Multiple Stakeholders

Stakeholders are key and IT needs to work at two levels. At one customer there are more than 50 people involved in the decision-making process for their digital workplace initiative all with very different objectives. The CIO needs to find a path that balances business objectives, employee needs and security and compliance.
At the other end of the spectrum, in the era of consumerized and user-centric IT, any successful technology implementation needs to involve the largest stakeholders: those employees using the technology. Which means getting IT out from behind their desks and into focus groups and ‘genius’-style IT service bars.

  1. Long term planning

Exploiting emerging technology, human capital and consumer trends requires longer term and sustained planning efforts. Yet, according to Gartner, CIO’s spend just 3% of their planning time looking beyond 5 years. At some of our digital workplace initiatives we’re planning ten years into the future, while a separate development-led team focuses on delivering shorter term projects.  

  1. A culture of experimentation

Digital business is forcing many organizations to eschew cultures that promote risk management and predictability in favour of risk-taking and creativity. A progressive, digital workplace can be one of the catalysts for that change, enabling employees to join up new and existing technologies, services and resources to explore new ways of working and creating value. But only if IT is as committed to experimentation and creativity as the business expects and needs all its employees to be. We need to move to a world where todays’ non-compliant application is tomorrows’ celebrated new application.  

  1. Flexible infrastructure and services

Seamless workplace services and that commitment to experimentation require an underlying flexibility in infrastructure and services that only a bi-modal IT operating model can deliver. The alternative is finding out after the event that employees have built something on a siloed cloud platform. 

  1. Reinforcing the need to rethink security

As users gain more freedom to experiment with technology and information, a connected workplace presses further on the accelerator pedal that is IT’s loss of control over devices and applications. If the organization is not already moving away from protecting infrastructure towards a more information-focused security strategy then this should be a priority, alongside investment in behavioural based detection and response tools.
I am excited by the potential that the digital workplace has to increase the CIOs contribution to business outcomes. I am also intrigued to see how, alongside automation, bi-modal and cloud it will continue to reshape the role, culture and behaviour of the IT department.

(About the author: Jan Kritz is senior vice president of the global end user services practice at Capgemini. This post originally appeared on his Capgemini blog, which can be viewed here)

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