Get ready for the interconnected, automated, mobile-enabled world of work

Blockchain technology is revolutionising the financial services industry, additive manufacturing is reengineering product development and the first autonomous cars are due on the road by 2020.

Technology is driving disruption at great pace – and it is also changing the way we work.

Advancements in technologies, such as artificial intelligence and big data analytics, are growing new business models and roles. In marketing and finance, rapid data analysis can help find insights which were previously unattainable. In logistics, autonomous supply chains and intelligent warehouses can allocate stock to markets with the most demand. At the same time, leading retailers are replacing delivery vans with unmanned drones.

We commissioned the World of Change research last year to understand whether workplaces in Europe were ready for digital evolution. It came as little surprise that technology was reported as the biggest driver of change in the workplace, but it also showed that employees have a real willingness to become more flexible and more mobile.

95% of European employees surveyed believed that the changing landscape would benefit their business in 2017.

At the same time, 61% thought technology at work would help to improve productivity, simplify processes and help them make more informed decisions.

There’s no denying that we’re still living in a world of change.

What factors were predicted to be the biggest game changers with the most positive influence on businesses for 2017?

  • Increased automation
  • Digital disruption
  • Competitors with the ability to move more quickly

Three ways digital disruption impacts the way we work

1. Global collaboration – how we work better together

Connectivity is vital for innovation, especially as teams become increasingly global. Cognitive whiteboards enable teams across the world to build ideas together in the same virtual meeting. Bringing artificial intelligence and voice recognition into the boardroom will improve our abilities to make better, informed, decisions with greater speed. Similarly, video conferencing systems will be common-place within the next few years. Speaking with a co-worker on the other side of the world will be as easy as leaning over your desk to speak with someone in the office.

2. Increased automation – making the mundane automatic

Already used by forward-thinking organisations, we can expect the automation of back-office processes to be standard in five years. Document-heavy workloads will move from being paper based to more efficient and cost-effective electronic processing. This provides a clear overview of incoming and outgoing funds, meaning users have more time to focus on the core goals of the business.

3. A mobile-enabled world of work

The use of mobile and on-demand services will become second nature. Improving services for digitally-savvy employees and customers by blending ease-of-use with powerful technology will continue to be a top priority for many businesses. With mobile devices becoming ever more prevalent, we’re seeing huge growth in applications that aim to simplify the user experience. Mobile printing, for example, enables staff to print from anywhere and any device to any printer. All this without the need to find a desktop or carry a USB stick around with them.

Workplaces of the future must help employees to be more agile

Employees are eager to adopt new technology quicker. This means that businesses and organisations need to make sure that have a good, solid infrastructure in place that makes it as easy as possible to connect to or use technology. But it’s not only about systems and processes. It’s about mindset.

Do you, your managers, your leaders have the desire to move with change? What’s the key to business transformation? Empowering your people. When you build an open culture that is not afraid to use technology as a way to increase efficiency, this helps employees to embrace new ways of working, see change in a positive light and become more agile.

For business leaders, success in five years’ time will require clear strategic thought to make the most of innovative new technology. Most importantly, they must push to give their employees the tools needed to be more flexible, efficient and creative with their time. Putting people at the centre of change will allow them to make the most of the opportunities digitisation creates.

If you want to learn more about workplace transformation, fill out the form to the right to download our ‘Decision Maker’s Guide to Workplace Transformation’.

David Mills

CEO at Ricoh Europe

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