What matters most to today’s digital workplace? Context

I’ve been reading a lot in recent weeks about the “workplace of the future,” the changes 2017 will bring to the office and how work will vary in the year ahead. It’s interesting stuff, heavy on the impact of automation, artificial intelligence and data-driven decisions.

At the crux of it all is an IT system that’s far more responsive, collaborative and contextual.

The old days, when workers performed a single task during set hours, are long gone. Today’s workers, we know, travel a lot, log on from various locations and collaborate with people outside the organization. They perform a wide range of tasks using a wide range of tools, and they’re as likely to be working on Saturday afternoons as on Tuesdays at 9 a.m.

They also do their jobs on a range of devices — desktops and laptops, of course, but also smartphones, tablets and 2-in-1 devices. Wearables, drones and Internet of Things (IoT) devices add to the portfolio.

Just as yesterday’s factories and offices were designed for a certain style of work, today’s need to be redesigned for this new way of working.

Today’s workplace should be intelligent and dynamic, based on a software-defined platform that will essentially “know” who a worker is and what he or she is working on. In this way, the platform can ensure that workers receive the right data at the right time, and always with the right levels of access and security.

Three Core Elements

The journey to this new, contextual digital workplace relies heavily on three core elements:

  • People: Individual workstyles are changing rapidly, as are the demographics of the office. The nature of work itself is expanding, too.
  • Spaces: Where we work is becoming nearly as important as what we’re working on. The needs of a worker in a client’s meeting room halfway around the world are far different from those of a worker checking his or her email at night from home. Workspaces equipped with sensors could collect information about workers and tasks, and then ensure the right information is delivered securely at any location.
  • Technology: Tools for change include an agile hybrid cloud network, secure software-defined networks (SDNs) and analytics-enhanced applications. In addition, dynamic security systems can protect workers, systems and data by detecting new threats, blocking them and even recovering systems and data when an attack succeeds.

The Contextual Workplace

Wondering how all this comes together?

Consider the example of Julia, a physician in a busy hospital who often works evenings and weekends.

When she enters various hospital locations in this contextual workplace, digital beacons connect with her mobile device and provide the apps and data she needs in that context.

When she’s in the wards, electronic patient records give her constantly updated data from medical instruments, observations from other staff and treatment notes. Smart machines analyze this data and help her determine a patient’s condition. To help Julia prioritize her time, the apps can even recommend which patients she sees first.

This is just one example that clearly shows how a contextual workplace can improve productivity and outcomes. Expand this to an entire workforce, business or industry – and you can just imagine the improvements that will result.

Read more in the white paper, Empowering Workforces with Invisible IT.

Stu Downes is a Distinguished Engineer in DXC’s Workplace & Mobility offering group. Stu’s role working with product management, industry analysts, key clients and partners gives him a unique view of market trends and client needs. Stu has held a number of roles delivering, designing and leading solutions and products that make people more productive and businesses more effective. He is now shaping workplace products that enable the hyper-productive digital workplace.

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