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Despite the healthy competition between Microsoft and Google, it is clear for anyone to see that their respective future visions of the ‘workspace’ are starkly similar. Committed to always presenting a balanced view, we wanted to share this excellent piece from the Google Cloud Team on their findings during a recent study completed in partnership with Raconteur.

“Organisations who are unable to cater to the needs of the connected generation in future will struggle to attract the best talent.”
About the survey
This report has been compiled through telephone interviews with 150 C-suite individuals from leading organisations in the UK. Interviews were completed by an independent surveying organisation on a pre-qualified but random sample. The individuals that participated in the survey covered a broad spectrum of industries and companies.
It is largely agreed that the rise of the new generation of connected workers, empowered by collaborative and mobile solutions, will radically alter the shape of the future workforce and workplace. For this study we teamed up with Raconteur and surveyed 150 C-suite individuals from leading organisations in the UK representing a wide range of business sectors and sizes.
What we found is that there are varying ranges of digital maturity today, and similarly alternative opinions on digital readiness for the future. The time is in fact ‘now’ for many with industries such as retail already leading the charge and seeing real return and business change on the back of significant investment in digital technologies.
Inevitably some other industries, such as financial and professional services, are slower off the mark, held back by a historic lack of technology innovation or industry regulatory constraints. Within manufacturing, while it was determined that it was the least digitally mature sector, there is real appetite to better capitalise on the obvious potential gains here.
Motivations for moving to the cloud are also evolving. While there is still a clear cost saving rationale, collaboration, responsiveness and agility are commonly now seen as key drivers.
With flexible working set to become the ‘normal’ in the future workplace, the rise of the mobile worker has been widely debated. Empowering this phenomenon is set to soon become a critical priority for organisations of all sizes:
  • 48% of respondents are today unable to access all the information they need via mobile devices, with
  • 6% either poorly connected or not connected at all.
In an age when people are used to a high level of connectivity in their private lives, it is to be expected that this should also translate to their working world. Organisations who are unable to cater to the needs of the connected generation in future will struggle to attract the best talent.
In an ever-increasing competitive market, industries such as retail fear that once they do get the best talent on board, they might not be able to hold on to it. Talent management is a key priority for all organisations surveyed with those in manufacturing, professional and financial services most concerned about their ability to harness technology to both lure and retain the best talent.
The demographics of the workforce are changing with people living and working longer.
By 2020, digital natives, digital immigrants and the digital exiles will need to work in harmony and be fully enabled by technology if they are to deliver on shared business goals, against a backdrop of new working habits.
Many can learn from industries such as retail when it comes to seeing the value of digital thinking and digital investment today. The benefits of thinking digitally are there for organisations of all sizes operating in all sectors to take full advantage of. For this to happen though, it is clear that both the business itself and IT must work in tandem to make digital transformation and associated business growth a reality. The CIO (or in smaller organisations, the Director with responsibility for tech, digital or IT) is central to this journey. Companies must place digital at the heart of their business if they are to realise the full potential offered in this highly connected era.
The survey analysis has been separated into five sections:
  • Cloud-enabled business.
  • Reaching Maturity.
  • The Future Office.
  • A Connected Workforce.
  • A ‘Digiculture’.
The Future Office
Flexible working will be the defining characteristic of the future workplace, rising from 4% today to 32% of organisations polled by 2018.
While today in organisations with fewer than 750 employees, no respondents to the study offer staff the option of flexible working. The same organisations expect this to rise to 16% by 2018.
But it’s at the top end of the employee scale, among organisations with headcount of 6,000+, that the most startling increase is seen, up from 10% today to 66% in 2018. This shift will require technology investment to support the underlying organisational processes that need to be restructured or introduced to support the shift towards a flexible working operating model. Some 38% of large enterprises recognise that among the top threats facing them are dated management structures, which in turn don’t allow them to respond to the changing needs of the workforce (32%), while the main driver for shaping the workplace is the pursuit of new efficiencies (72%).
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The top priority across all sectors is the deployment of apps to support mobile working (58%). Again, high end enterprises show most interest (66%) but organisations in the 251-750 employees range aren’t far behind (60%). The rise of the mobile worker has been well documented and empowering this phenomenon is a critical priority today for organisations of all sizes.
With a workforce that is operating at different times and places, collaboration is vital. It’s not surprising then that 45% of organisations are looking to invest in social media solutions, such as corporate employee networks, while 34% will seek to share work via web-based collaboration tools like Microsoft OneDrive, SharePoint and Google Drive.
However, there’s a long way to go before most organisations can boast a fully connected workforce, with only 5% of all respondents saying their employees can access all the information they need via their mobile devices. Furthermore, that number is derived entirely from enterprises with 6,000+ employees, with no respondents from other sized organisations able to make that claim. Some 48% of all respondents reckon their employees are connected for communication, but not with everything they need, while 41% define themselves as relatively well connected. The transport sector, well used to the need to communicate from remote posts to a central point, is well-positioned with 62% saying they’re well connected for communications. Those organisations that are not able to cater to the needs of the connected generation will struggle to attract and retain the best talent.
Today, mobile technologies, such as smartphones, are seen by a majority (57%) as a tool of choice for collaboration. This is particularly true in retail, cited by 81% of respondents, where mobile pricing, supply chain and payment systems have revolutionised operating models. In stark contrast, less than a third of manufacturing firms (30%) see mobile technologies as their primary collaboration tool.
Overall the installed base for enterprise social networks as a collaboration platform is remarkably low at present, with only retail and manufacturing respondents able to muster 10% usage, while adoption is as low as 3% among professional services and transport and logistics firms. This leaves considerable room for improvement. That said there are examples across all sectors of the power of effective collaboration in action.
The time for change is now – or at least it is for many, such as those organisations operating in the retail sector, where digital technologies have already attracted investment and have delivered tangible, measurable benefits.
Other sectors are inevitably slower off the mark, held back by a legacy lack of technology innovation (e.g in manufacturing where the MRP/ERP revolution has not particularly moved on) or by regulatory constraints (e.g in financial services where security, governance and data privacy concerns have held back the widespread adoption of cloud computing technology).
Across all business sectors, organisations need to look to the example of the retail sector to see the transformative potential of digital thinking and digital technologies and learn lessons that can be applied to themselves.
The rise of the new generation of connected workers, empowered by collaborative and mobile solutions, will radically alter the shape of the future workforce and workplace.
For this to happen however, the long-standing goal of business and IT working in tandem to support both transformation and business growth must become a reality. The CIO needs to work with his or her commercial counterparts to deliver on digital strategic objectives.
The benefits of thinking and operating digitally are there for companies of all sizes and scale, but they need to be embraced and realised. For the start-up or the small business looking to grow, investment in digital technologies opens up market opportunities and enables them to compete on a level playing field with larger competitors more easily.
For the larger enterprises, new, more agile technologies will enable them to throw off the shackles of legacy systems that in the past have constrained rather than supported responsive market opportunities and innovation.
While some organisations will move faster than others, by 2020, the business landscape must be ready to follow the example of the retail sector in reaping the potential of connected intelligence, mobile technology and the Internet of Things as drivers of transformation to create winners in the global digital economy.
Read the article in full here
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