According to Gartner, the Digital Workplace enables new, more effective ways of working, raises employee engagement and agility, and exploits consumer-oriented styles and technologies. This dovetails with the concept of “Industry 4.0” or the fourth industrial revolution. Industry 4.0 encapsulates the growing automation and digital data exchange including smart cities, cyber-physical systems, the internet of things (IoT), cloud computing, and cognitive computing.
These developments are creating a world where everything is interconnected, just-in-time, and driven by intelligent data insights and decisioning. For businesses looking to reap the benefits of this transformation, getting the Digital Workplace right will mean implementing a solid collaboration strategy that allows for what will be a massive shift in job force and how we work.
Approaching Industry 4.0
Peter Sondergaard, an analyst at Gartner, says that companies need to be asking questions like:
- How will emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence affect talent pools, job security, and work-life balance?
- How can emerging technologies augment human aptitude and capabilities?
- And ultimately, how can Industry 4.0 catapult the ability of organizations to drive and sustain growth?
“It [has become] abundantly clear that organizations have reached the point at which the digital workplace must be driven by both CIOs and heads of HR,” Sondergaard said in a recent posting. “Yes, there will be advances in artificial intelligence and smart machines. But they aren’t meant to replace humans or eliminate them from the workforce.” He added, “Let’s be clear: The future of work paints a picture where human beings will remain at the center of that work.”
The Nature Of Digital Work
At the center of enabling this is the ability to bring together the right skill sets, by dipping into a pool of not local, not regional, but global talent. Businesses are no longer locked into being stuck with a physical cohort of people, and they aren’t hamstrung by a lack of trained workforce. Besides meaning that towns, regions and even countries will need to up their education game (if the US is not producing enough cybersecurity specialists, for instance, a company can look to Europe or Asia), it creates an opportunity for businesses to create the right, fluid, customized mix of capabilities to achieve their goals. This also extends across age groups and types of workers – besides the usual mix of full-time remote and in-office employees, some workers might be part-time moms that work from home, others might be retirees that have seasoned knowledge on one aspect of the business who can be on call when needed.
UC & The Digital Workplace
“Ten years from now, jobs will call for more thinking and less doing and be distributed across an increasing number of people in different communities and geographies,” Sondergaard said. “Such changes will require new models of learning and development as well as the creation of hybrid workplaces that combine technology and information to accommodate a mix of employees.”
Obviously, enabling this means having the right technology foundation. Apart from broadband, which is a non-negotiable requirement, organizations will need to enable the right collaboration options to fit their environment. Increasingly, that will mean Unified Communications (UC).
Successful organizations will be able to connect their disparate employee populations in a way that improves productivity and satisfies different requirements. For instance, millennials might love the ability to chat via UC’s IM client, while the aforementioned on-call retirees prefer to work via telephone. In either case, UC’s ability to show presence, reachability, and channel options is invaluable.
At the same time, UC offers a standard and secure way to access business applications and resources across the Digital Workplace. As the lines separating our physical and digital worlds continue to blur, this will, like broadband, become non-negotiable. Sondergaard sums up the objective of adapting to Industry 4.0 by advising businesses to “harness people with digital dexterity, leverage network-effect technologies, and build an industrialized digital platform.”
UC will undoubtedly be a foundational element of that transformation.