The lines between our business and personal lives have been blurring for years. And in 2019, they may completely disappear. Just like search, shopping, social, and share-everything apps have streamlined our lives, work is about to get smarter and more personal than ever. Savvy companies will leverage machine-learning, micro-apps, bots, and connected ‘things’ to guide us through our workday and help every employee perform at their best.
What can we expect in the year ahead?
Here’s a (not-so) fun fact: technology is hurting your employees’ experience and output. After years of investing in new devices, apps, and clouds, businesses are coming to terms with a harsh reality: all this techno-sprawl has increased complexity and negatively impacted productivity. Today’s employees must navigate multiple application interfaces, each with varying experiences and each requiring different access credentials. This disjointed experience is frustrated further by the fact that employees must often access three or more applications to complete a single business process. And it has contributed to a sharp decline in employee productivity since 2004—with US productivity growth flirting with negative territory last year. Smart companies will bring order to this chaotic work environment by tapping digital workspaces that give employees single-sign-on access to all the apps (SaaS, Web, Mobile, Virtual) and content they need to be productive in one, unified experience. The best digital workspaces will be platform agnostic, providing a seamless experience across any device so employees can work wherever and however they prefer.
Work is no longer a place. We spend less time in traditional offices. There’s no such thing as “normal” business hours. We conduct work on our laptops, phones, tablets, and even connected things—all within the same business day. And we access business apps and sensitive company information anywhere with a WiFi connection or a cellular signal. This dynamic work environment promises new levels of freedom and productivity. It also introduces new vulnerabilities and an expanded attack surface that requires a more intelligent and contextual security model that centers on the user rather than the device. Savvy IT and Security teams will combine centralized policy control, user behavior insights, and machine learning and artificial intelligence to administer security policies based on user behaviors and access patterns. When an anomaly or risky behavior is detected, the system will contextually apply appropriate security measures ranging from requiring a second-layer of authentication when logging in from a new device, and turning off certain features such as the ability to download or print when accessing from a foreign network or blocking access to select (or all) apps after multiple failed log-in attempts.
For decades, companies have been pushing enterprise applications in an effort to streamline functional processes. But they’ve ended up overloading employees with too many apps that are too hard to use. Workers are beginning to revolt. After all, employees weren’t hired to navigate multiple screens deep into an enterprise app to execute a tactical activity like approving an expense report or completing a performance review. Yet, 25% of a typical worker’s time is tied up tending to such administrative tasks. To remedy the situation, leading organizations will leverage emerging micro-apps that extract personalized and relevant actions and information from enterprise systems and surface them in a simplified format so employees can capture insights and execute tasks without ever needing to log into or navigate the enterprise app. Quite simply, micro-apps will eliminate the noise from an employee’s day, guiding them through tasks quickly so they can focus more of their time on the job for which they were hired.
On any given day, the average employee spends more than 20% of their time searching for information. Content needed to do our jobs is distributed across multiple storage locations—on our devices, on our company’s servers, and in the cloud. It’s strewn across various channels, from traditional e-mail to collaboration platforms. And it’s tied up in the productivity and functional applications we engage with throughout our day.
Employees are frustrated with information hide and seek. And both patience and productivity are suffering as a result. Smart companies will tap new enterprise search capabilities—backed by machine-learning and artificial intelligence (AI)—to empower employees to quickly locate key content no matter where it is hiding.
The robot revolution won’t put us all out of work. But it will change how we do our jobs. Cutting-edge companies will use bots or virtual assistants to help us quickly retrieve information, provide recommended actions and information, and even automatically execute simple tasks on our behalf. Freed from mundane tasks that can weigh us down, we’ll become more productive and strategic. And we’ll deliver better results. Case in point: one large global insurance firm implemented bots to support its internal IT help desk. And it quickly saw its time-to-resolution plummet.
In the next five years, work will change more dramatically than it has since the days of Henry Ford. Digital technologies will lead the way in this transformation. And companies that embrace them will create smarter, more flexible ways to work that engage their employees, unlock innovation, and give a leg up on the competition.
Tim Minahan is Executive Vice President of Business Strategy and Chief Marketing Officer at Citrix, a leading provider of digital workspace solutions.