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What is the modern workplace?

Quirky modern office spaces designed to characterise fun, creative and collaborative environments have replaced the large imposing head corporate offices that were symbolic of strength and wealth. This is evidence of how the culture of work is changing, with real estate being seen more as a huge drain on budget rather than attractant for employees or customers.

An element of this working culture is enabling an agile workforce, which benefits the employee but also the business, who can reduce their costs on infrastructure too.

Combining the agile working culture with modern working hubs is the foundation to having a modern workplace.

However, to fully achieve it the technology must also enable both these things. Adoption of a user-centric, identity first technology approach where users can work from where ever they wish, at whatever time works best for them, on any device they have to hand (or prefer to work from), will remove the barriers technology often present when adapting to the modern workplace.

What does the future look like for technology and the modern workplace beyond 2020?

Technological innovations are much further ahead than workplaces are currently adopting them. Here I highlight some proven technologies that I believe are going to more widely adopted soon, as well as some of the more cutting-edge tech.

Identity Access Management (IAM)

Identity has long been the corner stone of all cloud applications, yet adoption of Identity and access management is still relatively low. Even lower is the adoption of some of the most beneficial features to users such as single sign on and conditional based multi-factor authentication.

While cloud applications are being adopted widely by organisation, the number of identities is increasing, and therefore so are the number of potential vulnerabilities. IAM platforms reduce the number of identities to a single one for the organisation to control and also for the user to remember, creating a win-win scenario. Therefore, an IAM should be the top of all organisations’ Christmas lists if they haven’t already got one.

Automation through Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Modernisation of applications is taking longer than I think anyone anticipated, therefore true automation, using API’s, has more limited use cases. This leaves a huge number of repetitive processes that still are being manually carried out. RPA is providing a way out of this monotony by employing a ‘robot’ that; never sleeps, never gets it wrong, and loves boring repetitive tasks.  

This kind of technology will change job roles in the future, and free employees to be more creative and explore the more rewarding aspects of their roles.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

I can’t write a blog about future technology in the workplace without mentioning AI. Enterprise organisations that are enabling AI now are making faster, more informed decisions, improving operational efficiencies, and innovating at a greater rate, according to research by EY.

Find out why I think AI will be an important disruption to the workplace.

Data analysis and visualisation

With a background in biological sciences, I found it strange how poorly utilised data was in most organisations. With decisions largely based on feelings, loosely collected feedback, or some poorly analysed data usually only used if it supported gut feel.

Thankfully this has changed and now most, if not all, businesses understand the power of good data. The challenge for most is now getting hold of good data and knowing what to do with it.

Investment in data specialists to prepare and manage data collected, data visualisation tools enhanced by AI, and employee’s with better data skills; are three key areas where workplaces must invest to move further away from gut feel.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Those interested or already using augmented reality will have some specific problems which they are looking to solve. I believe over time, as more use cases surface, there will be ways AR can enhance the modern workplace.

One such example could be to enhance video conferencing, using AR to place people virtually into the meeting room. Right now, this use might seem more of a nice-to-have than a necessity, but in an organisation that only has remote workers the advantages having people feel more present in the meeting could be very valuable. 93% of communication is non-verbal after all.

What do business leaders need to do today?

These trends aren’t going to slow down, and business leaders need to look at bridging the gap as quickly as possible if they are to remain relevant. Businesses also need to make some bold decisions about the technology they use. The best approach to support this is for organisations is to focus firstly on the user experience and not the technology.

Technology is an enabler for people, not the other way around.

Whilst it might seem painful to move to a new technology, the pain will be much more short-term than the pain you will feel if employees become demotivated.

Businesses have also been focusing on customer experience over the last decade, but this approach needs to be employed internally to their own employees. Treating employees on the same level as customers and thinking to create a seamless environment for them becomes increasingly important to attract and retain the best talent.