Oliver Bendig highlights six workplace technology trends to watch out for in 2017
Technological progress has radically transformed the workspace in the last ten years. Companies now envision their workforce of the future as more mobile, more flexible, more efficient and more networked. Here are six trends they should take note of in order successfully to meet the requirement
1 Individual cloud-based work environments – the browser is the new operating system.
One of the basic technologies driving many innovations is the cloud. Today, it is possible for personal workstations to be represented down to the last detail in the cloud and accessed via a Web browser. As a result, the personal work environment is no longer tied to a conventional work ‘place’ but becomes independent of time, place and device. No matter where I am, when I work or which device I am using, the cloud gives me access to my work environment at any time, be it apps, files, identities and services. The browser is thus turning into the new operating system and work is becoming a state that I can choose to activate or deactivate at any given time.
2 Holistic workspace management is putting an end to management silos and a one-sided focus on specific devices.
Providing knowledge workers with a suitable workspace in the future requires certain investments to be made, and employers who are taking steps to make the work environment mobile are heading in the right direction. Right at the top of the list is holistic workspace management that puts an end to management silos and a one-sided focus on specific devices. Employees use more than one device to do their work and, in response, IT management technologies are becoming increasingly user-centric, rather than being based on a specific device. Unified Endpoint Management of traditional, mobile and hybrid devices is becoming more and more important, enabling administrators to manage the workspace environment independently of the devices used and to focus on the user instead.
3 Enterprise Service Management – New synergy effects are also emerging across the entire field of employee service through so-called servicisation in companies.
Over the last decades, IT service management has developed extremely efficient processes for the provision and administration of services. Connectivity will make these processes available for non-IT services, too, in the future. The HR department, for example, will use them to on-board a new employee, or to handle requests for leave or notifications of illness.
4 Offices will be smarter than ever before, with IoT & Augmented Reality playing an important role in this transition.
The need to be able to use an increasing variety of devices for work is set to rise in future. The connected and autonomous car will increasingly be used as a mobile office. Wearables will enable new and more efficient work processes. Data glasses, for example, will show logistics staff the location of goods in storage halls or assist surgeons during operations. The option of a new kind of virtual conference is also on the horizon, with participants meeting in an augmented office even though they are actually thousands of miles apart.
Connectivity will not stop at the individual workspace but will expand to include entire buildings and their infrastructure. Functions such as lighting, heating, access controls and projectors will be ‘smartly’ connected to the work environment. Knowledge workers in the smart office can then check the availability of rooms and book them for meetings, for example, or locate members of staff within a building, automatically regulate the lighting, launch teleconferences and dial in participants automatically. This will lead to better time management, more efficient allocation of office resources and more effective collaboration.
5 Workstations will be more and more able to act as virtual assistants.
Music streaming apps like Spotify are setting the trend. In line with a user’s personal taste in music, they make recommendations about what to listen to in certain everyday situations like getting up in the morning, taking exercise or relaxing in the evening. Technology will generally become more ‘empathetic’ to work contexts of the future, helping knowledge workers to become more efficient, more productive and more motivated. Time, place, devices, bandwidth and user behaviour will become factors that are automatically taken into consideration in the provision and use of IT services. My workstation will, for example, identify who my next meeting is with and automatically call up our last conversation, recently shared files and the necessary apps. Tomorrow’s workstation will become a kind of super assistant that will quickly learn from my interactions what I need in each specific situation and provide it.
6 The work environment in 2017 will be about more than just technology.
Digitisation will surely also change the habits of knowledge workers. Work and private life will often lie side by side on one device, and this harbours certain risks. The topic of data security and privacy will require a great deal of attention; care must also be taken to ensure that the blurring of work and private life is not detrimental to work-life balance. In principle, technical options could be deployed to achieve this, but experience has shown that responsible role-model behaviour on the part of superiors has the most lasting impact. After all, modern knowledge workers should not just be able to work more efficiently, they should also have a higher quality of life!