Last month at our inaugural UK Breaking Barriers roundtable, 15 IT and business leaders came together to discuss and debate the key themes related to digital transformation and their main business priorities for the year ahead. So, as 2017 draws to a close, here are the key trends shaping the 2018 global business landscape.
1. Remote working policies will become essential
The expectations of workers have changed dramatically in the last decade. 10 years ago, work-life balance was often a ‘nice to have’ with salary and benefits topping the list of employee requirements.
Fast forward to 2018 and work-life balance has become essential. New comers to the office environment, especially 20-somethings, have a completely different outlook, and requirements which differ dramatically to those of older workers.
For many organizations remote working is often viewed with scepticism, fuelled by predictions of the “death of the office”, usually by companies with a vested interested in its demise. But remote working isn’t about getting rid of offices, it’s about offering people flexibility. Introducing a remote working policy and embracing mobility doesn’t mean that your staff will instantly decamp to the nearest coffee shop, but it does mean that you’ll attract and retain them, because you’ll be enabling them to work on their terms.
2. Technology and real estate will come together
Advancement in technology is shifting the role of the physical office-space, changing where and how we work. According to recent analyst reports the combination of a changing workforce and greater connectivity, means that up to 30% of corporate real estate portfolios will incorporate flexible workspaces by 2030, with offices more likely to be built around core hubs and comprising fewer locations. Alongside this, the Internet of Things and smart buildings will create new ways of managing productivity, sustainability and the user experience.
In 2018 the continued migration to cloud will also allow businesses to become more flexible, ensuring companies can scale up or down as their requirements change
3. Consolidation will continue
Businesses are built on communication, whether it’s interacting with customers and partners, or sharing ideas and meeting with colleagues. If not physically present, it becomes vital that employees can talk, share and interact as productively and effectively as if they were there in person.
As Fuze research shows employees are regularly using the likes of WhatsApp, social media, photo sharing sites and FaceTime alongside approved workplace tools. The result is a desktop of applications that varies by employee and department, with little standardization and management.
At last, we are at a point where everyone agrees what UC should incorporate from a functional perspective — video, voice and team messaging. In 2018, the emphasis will shift to UC becoming unified collaboration, rather than unified communication. The tricky task for CIOs will be to unify and streamline their business tools into a single application that covers multiple interaction modes.
4. People and culture will define the workplace
During our roundtable discussion, the majority of IT and business leaders agreed that they now have access to the technologies needed to meet their employee’s expectations. Implementation and cost are no longer issues. However, the holy grail is how to encourage employees to engage with this technology and use it to support personal relationships.
Creating a people-centric culture comes from fostering a collaborative environment, and communications technology clearly has a big role to play. As we’ve discovered from our own research, 73% of the app generation expect to use the very latest technologies at work, those that aren’t provided with the latest tech are more than happy to circumvent company processes to use their own. For IT leaders 2018 will be about driving the adoption of tools that bring workforces together, no matter how dispersed, under one unified culture.
5. Automation will help employees to add value
One factor that will encourage employees to focus on the human aspects of their jobs will be the continued growth of automation in the workplace. With less effort from humans to complete mundane tasks, it is no surprise that intelligent automation is quickly becoming the preferred method of operation. Nevertheless, although automation is already having a positive impact in many areas of business, driving adoption will be key for CIOs in 2018.
By freeing employees from repetitive tasks that can be automated, workers have the opportunity and develop new skills, be more creative and deepen workplace relationships all of which can add real value to the business and provide a competitive edge in a noisy market.