Cloud computing services are right at the cutting edge of digital technology, allowing organisations large and small to streamline their operations and improve efficiency. These services, also known as ‘the cloud’, have since their inception been at the forefront of the digital revolution, with each iteration bringing an ever-expanding range of products and services. The cloud may have originally started out as the place to store data outside of your own IT ecosystem (i.e. online), but it has quickly evolved into much more.
What do you want from technology in the workplace? Market research firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) recently interviewed 3,801 employees around the world about their technology expectations.
AI and automation are the big concerns
PSB found that respondents were expecting to be more mobile and to do less work face-to-face. They were also expecting to be more capable – using artificial intelligence to give them a boost – and more productive. However, they're worried about losing jobs to automation and AI.
It's not an unreasonable fear: McKinsey reported in 2017 that nearly half (49 per cent) of jobs across 800 occupations (from junior to C-suite) could be automated with existing or soon-to-be-introduced technology – some 1 billion jobs (and $15.8 trillion in wages).
Current tech is okay – but workers want more
Unsurprisingly perhaps – given what employees are picturing for the near future – employees are becoming dissatisfied with the technology in their current workplaces. They want their training enhanced with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and they think the Internet of Things (IoT) is exciting. More than 50% of them expect to be working in a smart office within the next five years.
This connects with Forbes' report that millennials see technology as a tool for personal growth, looking favourably on learning management systems (LMSes) and the organisations that provide them. They want businesses to be about more than just business – and they want to be provided with the tools and training they need to make a difference.
Fortunately, most respondents said their workplaces are smart enough (for now). Eight percent even think their office is "too smart". But 44% don’t think they work in a smart office, a number that will only grow if IT departments don’t keep pace with expectations. Millennials are the most likely to head for the door if the office isn’t smart, with 42% saying a dumb office would see them heading for the exit.
Time is precious – so don't waste it
The biggest time wasters at work are IT's fault, say employees:
• Slow or glitchy software
• Slow or glitchy devices
• Administrative tasks
They want what they have at home, please. A third of employees say their domestic tech is superior to what they're given in the office. The answer? Digital transformation, which can help organisations of all sizes and types to focus on the experiences they want to provide their customers and employees, and put in place the platforms and technology to seamlessly enable them.
Tools before toys
If you ask your employees to choose between high-tech perks such as AR/VR equipment and free food or games, more than half of them choose the tech over the hot dogs and table tennis.
Remote work is here to stay
Old-style managers worry whether remote workers are putting their feet up when out of site, but, such workers are the most committed to their jobs. "My job is a core part of my personal identity," said 72% of those who work remotely some of the time, compared to 59% of those who are office-bound. Another 59% of remote workers agreed with the statement "work is life," and 45% said work was key to their social life. In both cases, office-bound workers were less enthusiastic.
IT must deliver
Employees are excited, even if 29% of them think a robot will take their job, which is great for IT, but there will be penalties for organisations that can't keep up with employees' expectations of working in a smart office. They'll see employees looking for the exit—or their jetpack.
SMBs need security measures as much as large corporations do. They aren't hard to install, and you can probably do everything you need to do in a single day. You need to secure the computers in the office, but employees should also secure their laptops and smartphones as they can be easily lost or stolen, and an outside party may get access to company information.
Multinational corporations and large enterprises have for years been conducting business on a global scale. These operations require a broad array of devices and software to function smoothly, and significant resources are invested to support and maintain them. That’s why they employ teams of IT experts – in data centres, hardware, networking, security, software, support, training and more.
The internet of things (IoT) is being heralded as a breakthrough technology that will be instrumental in enabling other next-generation technologies, such as AI, driverless cars and robotics. So far, much of the hype has focused on consumer items like smart TVs and fridges that can order extra milk. But it’s in business where the IoT is predicted to drive massive transformation.
When it comes to laptop and notebook computers, their greatest strength can often seem to be their most profound weakness. The very portability that makes them such useful tools for the mobile professional leaves them vulnerable to a host of catastrophes that never faced the average desktop machine.
It’s easy to calculate the cost of new hardware or software. But there’s more to a business case than these hard costs. Delaying your upgrade cycle may save on these costs in the short term, but there are other costs that may start ballooning as your fleet ages beyond its end-of-life. Some of these costs – like the cost of a security breach or reduced productivity – are hard to quantify or predict, but that doesn’t make them any less real.
It’s said that the best defence is a good offence. This is particularly true in cybersecurity, where the average cost of a security breach in Australia is more than US$100 per compromised data item, according to a 2017 Ponemon study. Considering how many data items can be at risk in the event of a breach, this could rack up quite a hefty bill.