NewField IT: The Future of Work18 Feb, 2015 By: James Duckenfield
According to James Duckenfield, Chairman of NewField IT, the way we work has come a long way. According to Duckenfield:
Looking back at the last 20 years, changes in technology and workplace perception have drastically changed the way we work today.
Almost in the same was as IT in general was a major influencer on how we work today, advanced, or as we call it, Next Generation Managed Print Services, has now the chance to take the lead in even more intelligent, well informed changes. The role printing and thus paper will inevitably change significantly too.
But let’s start at the beginning and divide the current business landscape into 3 domains: Office, (general) Workspace, and Customers (Customer Experience), and ask the question "how did we get to where we are at the moment and where are we going?" And "what’s the new role of Managed Print Services in this scenario?"
Let’s start 20 years ago:
We got together in office buildings, hoping we had a nice little individual office space, preferably our own room; used (electronic) typewriters, Windows 3.11 or 95 desktop computers, or mainframe terminals...we had first, basic, analogue internet connection but our communication was still mainly analogue: traditional telephone, fax, memos, postal services for delivery.
We were very concerned about the little data we shared in a public domain, first data protection acts were signed and “big data” was the pressure of telecoms companies, energy providers, insurance companies, the health sector and banks. As data laymen, Excel was the “dernier cri”, IT professionals were the new saints in jeans and tennis shoes, and anything beyond a line printer was state of the art, while having a pocket sized mobile phone was pretty cool.
Our working life looked a bit brighter 10 years ago:
Yes, we still gathered in office buildings, and of course traveled a lot across the globe to meet and greet, but IT started to become more and more useful as software and devices improved. Our communication became more and more digital: digital phones; emails became our primary written communications media; first mobile communicators entered the market making business mobile. Digital had infiltrated our world and it had become distributed – distributed computing and print.
We were still very much concerned about our data privacy but started to warm up that with a world becoming more and more digital where we might have to agree to share more of it. Big Data was still a geek’s business – the layman, however, got geeky with Access.
The saints became sinners as IT started to become a significant cost saving focus – we all started to understand IT, even management: they wanted their say in deciding how to invest in IT software and hardware.
Jumping from the 1st decade of the 21st century into the second is also jumping into a whole new world of working:
We are no longer tethered to gather in office buildings, travel is often seen as extravagance and so home or remote working is becoming enabled with collaboration technologies – no matter where we are (which leaves us with sometimes interesting time-zone scheduling challenges) – all of us using the latest Windows / Apple computers, and pretty powerful, high-speed internet connected, using VoIP or Smartphones for communication; email and corporate social media for information sharing, having left paper memos, postal services and, in most areas of the western parts of our world, fax behind: digital, online, apps – that’s how we do documents these days.
We the consumers are now driving the market – we tell IT what we want and need. Challenging those jeans and tennis shoes to run faster, find the right tools, put security in place, connect our BYOD and allow us to collaborate with our colleagues anywhere via smartphone, video conference, get contracts digi-signed and the money for the closed deal wired in no time to and where ever.
Are we still printing? Yes, of course. Less and for less – we rely on our Managed Print Services provider to help us reduce print, advise us on how to improve our paper-based processes, take a close look at our business and document workflows, help us install the right software tools to reduce our paper consumption and CO2 output – and yes, we’re happy (as far as a business man is ever happy) spending good money on it.
Where we’re going from here?
Bricks and mortar, our traditional work environment will get a different meaning with the work or office space itself being better tailored to the workforce requirements.
We are headed for a more and more paperless world where augmented content is taking over, productivity is driven by intelligent data analytics, computing is mobile and liquid, with wearable wireless communication tools. Corporate IT provision will be increasing dictated by specialist companies we outsource to or to the creators of the technology who have undergone servitization.
Privacy is a new frontier. We have fought hard in some countries but it is this right of an individual for privacy which will hold back our ability to make the next steps in productivity and commerce.
Key elements to a new work environment are: collaboration, adaptive processes, governance (incl. compliance and analytics) and interoperability.
But above all change will be the new constant. Embrace change, support change, live and breathe change. Manage resources at all levels, in our case paper in a much better way including a complete audit trail. And communication, improved communication is vital for successful change.
Welcome to the real digital age.