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Perspectives

Enabling the Future of Work

2014-09-18


Want to remake your business but not sure where to start? Embracing these eight hyper-critical principles will get your organization's transformational juices flowing.

Want to remake your business but not sure where to start? Embracing these eight hyper-critical principles will get your organization's transformational juices flowing.


If you're reading this, you already know your business model is outdated, that you need to source secondary value to outside experts more and that your IT needs overhauling for the ubiquitous computing era.

Next-Generation CIOs - Change Agents for the Global Virtual Workplace

How can this be done? After working with hundreds of companies, we've identified eight universal enablers of transformation. Behaviors that future-proof organizations and help them modernize their strategy. They are as follows:

Engage and interact with your community through social media.

Social media is not a discretionary activity or drag on productivity. It's a powerful dataset and communication tool to harvest insight from more than a billion people on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others. Insight which can be used to inform your updated business model or next product launch, as opposed to just "gutting" it. Like all things in life, showing up is half the battle to winning social media. But it'll take a calculated, deliberate and sustained effort to have a meaningful impact.

Welcome outside innovation, partner with it and start crowdsourcing.

Innovation can no longer happen solely within the walls of a single company, even at notoriously controlling and secretive companies like Apple Inc., who rely heavily on the manufacturing expertise of Foxconn to make their sought-after products. Similarly, great ideas can come from anywhere, including the general public. Whether an enterprise or consumer brand, this enabler facilitates external sourcing as much as it does IT.

Authorize a location-agnostic workforce to inspire millennials.

The work environment has changed. You can bemoan or accept it. If you choose the latter, you'll need to implement flexible schedules, performance-based incentives, remote employees and all the technology required for them to succeed without regular in-person meetings. You'll also need to emphasize "customer experience" more than specifications and features. And you'll need to attract millennials with an adaptable culture before your competitors scoop up the best that generation has to offer.

Figure 1

Deploy accommodating technology to mobilize your workforce.

To accomplish the above, you'll need competent, secure and accessible tools. These include but are not limited to videoconferencing, Web conferencing, messaging, unified communications, mobile apps, bring your own device support and any other collaborative platforms that emulate the experience of Facebook, LinkedIn and other popular consumer tools. Not only will this be critical to empowering your workforce and changed culture, it can produce measurable increases in productivity and innovation, as well as advantages in talent recruitment and retention.

Bait customers with free and useful products to encourage them to transact

If you insist on reaching customers like you did before, you're heading down the wrong path. Since consumers are more freely informed and pitched than ever before, it'll take a lot more free samples to get them to bite. This can range from online approvals for financial institutions, Web-based diagnostic tools for pharmaceuticals and freemium and gamification business models, to virtual "try-it-out" kiosks and showrooming apps that offer comparative information at retail stores. Basically, you should consider any tool that encourages customers to transact, improve and become a stakeholder to your success.

Embrace asset-light IT such as software leasing and on-demand computing

Not long ago, upgrading IT was an intensive and expensive capital expenditure, involving new software licenses, new hardware, implementation services, annual support fees, training and even new hires. Today, there are a wide range of variable IT products you should consider to reduce labor and capital expenditures, including software as-a-service and other popular outsourced computing services. To accomplish this, CIOs need to engage in a fluid discussion with the CFO and COO about how these new technology approaches impact cash flow and financial reporting models.

Assimilate your supply chain, desegregate people from functions

In the new era of work, an increasingly high proportion of the supply chain will be globalized. To leverage this reality, companies will need to outsource secondary business functions to the most suitable external provider. For example, rather than owning and managing their own transportation fleets, some organizations are now using service providers to perform third-party logistics. Similarly, some businesses are transitioning finance duties such as expense processing to third-party experts. Additionally, by desegregating people from functions, businesses can benefit from the cost advantages of global suppliers, expertise and their increased capacity to react more quickly to changes in the market.

Upgrade to a variable, cloud-based service delivery

Related to no. 6, future-proof enterprises must be able to get out of something as quickly as they get in. Horizontal integration enables this, as does flexible processing power that can be increased or decreased as demand fluctuates (aka cloud computing). In addition to moving towards more flexible computing models, CIOs will need to ensure their IT are future-facing with widespread cloud adoption and modular computing in mind.

Finally, it's important to note that these eight enablers are not intended to be the solutions themselves, rather guidelines by which future solutions can be organized. Within each enabler, organizations will need to make decisions specific to their situation.

For more information on how to prepare for the next-generation workplace, read the full white paper, Making the Shift to the Next-Generation Enterprise (PDF) get inspired by our Future of Work series or visit Cognizant Business Consulting.

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Enabling the Future of Work