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Supporting the workplace of the future

Businesses are now combining technologies with widespread connectivity to support increased mobility in the workforce

For these businesses, mobile working is becoming the norm. In fact, Citrix's global market research reveals that 24 per cent of businesses have fully adopted mobile work styles, and 89 per cent of businesses plan to do so by 2020.

These businesses are also ensuring that technology leaders are given the freedom to fully contribute to business strategy and innovation.

Finally, these trends are forcing a far-reaching transformation in the skills and roles required in corporate information technology departments. So what are some of the top trends defining the workplace of the future, and what skills and capabilities do these departments need to adopt to support them?

Businesses are recruiting for cloud, mobility and security expertise

Complex cloud skills are in high demand for Australian IT teams. These skills could range from cloud strategy and governance to evaluating public cloud services, migrating from legacy IT to the cloud and working with business units to deliver new products and services quickly through the cloud.

These skilled team members ensure organisations get critical decisions right, such as whether to implement a private or hybrid cloud, or adopt a public cloud. They also ensure the business is running workloads in the correct location, accounting for data sovereignty, performance and efficiency issues.

Skilled cloud professionals can complement mobility experts such as developers who can rebuild traditional applications to run in the cloud for mobile devices, or create custom applications that run in the cloud for mobile devices.

In addition, the technology department needs to include experts in mobile and cloud security to combat increasingly sophisticated attempts to penetrate corporate networks and steal sensitive information.

Businesses are embracing security solutions that support mobility

Many workplace mobility policies provide employees with device selection or usage options. These options include choose your own device (where employees can select from a range of devices approved by their employer), bring your own device (where employees can bring their own devices to the workplace) or company-issued, personally enabled devices (where employees can use an employer-issued phone for personal purposes).

To secure these devices and the wireless networks they access, many businesses are deploying enterprise mobility management tools. These technologies and services allow companies to monitor and control the security of devices and data, the applications running on the devices and the financial arrangements involved.

However, enterprise mobility management tools must complement education programs to help employees understand what data they can and cannot access on mobile devices, and the importance of keeping the devices safe.

Businesses are adopting technologies to enable 'frictionless' office spaces

The ‘frictionless office space’, a concept closely related to the redefinition of work as an activity rather than a place, is becoming a reality.

For frequently on-the-move workers, hotels and cafes are assuming the status of second offices. A range of technologies are now available to help businesses adopt frictionless workplaces, including virtual desktops and Wi-Fi as a service.

Virtual desktops, where users can access desktops, applications and data residing in a data centre using a browser or client, can minimise the risks associated with remote access or unsecured devices, while wireless innovations such as Wi-Fi as a service can enable even resource-constrained businesses to access high-speed wireless LAN across a range of locations.

For those businesses planning to embrace frictionless workplaces, the barriers are now lower than ever before.

Businesses are rethinking their reporting structures

As technology becomes central to innovation across all areas of business, reporting structures that see the chief information officer answer to the chief financial officer or chief operating officer are becoming increasingly redundant.

This trend was thrown into the spotlight earlier this year when Westpac Group CIO David Curran was directed to report to CEO Brian Hartzer rather than COO John Arthur in a reshuffle of reporting lines.

Additionally, a recent McKinsey report pointed out that IT performance improves when CIOs play an active role in business strategy. Modifying reporting lines so the CIO reports to the CEO could be one way of ensuring the IT leader contributes to innovating and building the business.

One thing is for sure: businesses that continue to treat IT as a cost centre risk falling behind competitors that position technology as central to strategy and innovation.

Embracing the cloud, mobility and the capacity for innovation in IT can give businesses an undeniable edge over less progressive competitors. And this gap will only widen as the pace of change accelerates.

For more information about supporting the workplace of the future visit Lenovo’s ThinkFWD Think Space.

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