14 Jul How Windows 10 can be the accelerator for the digital transformation of your organisation
I rarely find myself getting excited about an operating system but I am genuinely excited by the launch of Windows 10 on 29 July. And it’s not for any of the obvious reasons that have got many others buzzing over the past few months – although I do have to admit that I genuinely like the return of the start button.
What really excites me about the launch of Windows 10 is the symbolic and crucial change that it signals. For me, Windows 10 represents a formal acknowledgement that the digital enablement of IT strategy has come of age, as has the empowerment of the worker to shape and deliver their own digital experience in the workplace.
The digital workplace – at least as a generally accepted concept – has been with us for a while, albeit as a discussion topic among progressive IT leaders and their strategic advisers. It is only more recently that it has become a genuine and tangible goal for many organisations as senior management have woken up to its potential to enhance productivity, attract and retain the best talent and create deeper and more valuable relationships with customers.
Employee empowerment is also already with us. It has forced its way into the workplace through Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programmes and the creeping growth of shadow IT within the enterprise.
The days when the IT manager could dictate the exclusive use of technology (hardware and software) that was used in the workplace are in decline.
And gone are the days when end-user choice was seen as a recipe for chaos and anarchy. Unquestioning adherence to policies that said choice, mobility and personalisation would result in systems vulnerability, lack of interoperability and complexity, and huge costs to manage and support a wide selection of devices and applications are fast becoming legacy concepts that belong to a disappearing analogue world.
The launch of Windows 10 means that we have entered a period of choice, greater flexibility and more meaningful metrics of success – metrics that are defined by employee productivity, organisational agility and an IT department that is able and willing to build and sustain a collaborative and information rich environment.
Today’s digitally-enabled IT department is embracing the mobile, knowledge-based worker as the hero of the organisation and does not treat them as an exception to the norm who should be discouraged from wanting a more personal digital experience in the workplace.
The challenge facing IT departments is how they should address the twin issues of empowering the workforce and building the digital workplace as part of an overall digital strategy. In my view, there are several elements that every IT and business leader should consider:
- The device – “Empower your workforce” is an empty slogan unless it’s backed up by strategic intent and investment to deliver the right results. I don’t think any IT leader can build a truly sustainable digital strategy that is founded on sweating hardware assets to the detriment of user experience. And yes, I appreciate that budgets need managing and the board needs convincing that the “business-as-usual” mode of keeping IT hardware for as long as possible should change. But consider the big picture: the Internet of Things, “wearables”, and the near ubiquitous use of smartphones and tablets, often as replacements for the traditional PC and notebook, are the essential building blocks that will help the workforce to have the empowerment they crave and need. The traditional PC and notebook still has a role to play and should not be dismissed as legacy technology. But both need to co-exist alongside the mobile devices and, in the near future, the new generation of wearable technologies that are forming part of a portfolio approach to the hardware choices that are made available to the workforce.
- The Cloud – The cloud has become a convenient short-hand for a wide range of services that are helping to address various legacy IT issues including speed of delivery, business continuity and improved financial management of the IT organisation. However, whether it’s through the public or private cloud – or a hybrid version combining the two – one of the clearest bellwether signs of a digitally mature organisation is the use of cloud-based applications to promote productivity by enabling the workforce to access the right information at the right time in the most practical format on any device.
- Shadow IT – Shadow IT is an unavoidable part of business life. There is no way of putting the genie back in the bottle and returning all IT procurement to the IT department. The CIO needs to accept that increasing numbers of business units are going to spend ever greater sums from their budgets to buy their own IT services. The CIO’s role should be to lead and support the creation of frameworks to help these non-IT buyers of IT services to make an informed choice. Such a choice should be predicated on investing in secure, scalable and interoperable products and services that provide end-users with a best-in-class digital experience.
- Convergence of private and public digital experiences – Social engagement, cloud access, increasing mobility, the prevalence of a culture of collaboration and sharing as well as a need to manage the ever-increasing volume and velocity of information being generated and processed are rapidly blurring the line between our private and professional lives. The analogue world in which the hours we worked and the location in which we had to work, and our technology entitlement were defined by organisational rank are no longer relevant. The rapid proliferation of cloud-based apps, developments such as the consumerisation of workplace technology and hyperconnectivity mean that workers can work on any device, access any service and collaborate with colleagues using social platforms and other specialist collaboration tools irrespective of physical location. In other words, our personal preferences now shape our professional activities. Any organisation that fails to recognise these new rules of employee engagement risks creating a dysfunctional environment that disrupts and hampers productivity rather promotes and nurtures it.
So, where does Windows 10 fit into all of these issues? I believe that an effective digital strategy is no longer an optional extra that the board can ignore and the business unit leaders can avoid. The IT organisation can and should play a leadership role in this issue. The cloud, shadow IT, BYOD, consumerisation and all the other trends that seem to litter every presentation on IT strategy should not scare off the CIO and the IT organisation. We need to embrace these issues as what they are – stepping stones to the digital transformation of the organisation.
In my opinion, the launch of Windows 10 is truly significant because we now have an operating system that allows the worker to use a range of devices, interfaces and experiences to explore and manipulate information and knowledge in a more personal way – one that suits them and helps them to be engaged and productive, and in control of their own digital experience. Surely, we should all aspire to help our workforces to achieve these goals.
Find out for yourself how Ricoh’s IT services team can help your organisation enhance the productivity of its workforce.