We’re in an age where we all expect to have uninterrupted access to the Internet and a myriad of devices to work from. We also expect the physical barriers of the four walls of an office to not hold us prisoner. We want it to be an option not a jail sentence. We’re not bound by location, we work on planes and trains (preferably from a passenger seat), hold conference calls from cafes and host meetings across different continents all at the same time.
With our expectations now heightened, our demands have increased. The technology we experience in our personal lives has crossed paths with our professional selves. Users are in control now more than ever before of the devices they use. As a result, we demand flexible working policies, a choice in the devices we use and the technology that supports this – cloud, social collaboration tools, etc – must be reliable, available and secure. But this puts CIOs and IT managers under pressure and as a result they need to think about digital and they must enable users.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Some sectors for example, retail, are pioneering the digital innovation. It’s put its users and customers first – understanding that the experience is everything and that users aren’t just the employees on the shop floor. Built on big data and analytics, retailers have been able to forecast for not only promotions and product lines, but also building bespoke profiles of their customers.
In the last two years, they’ve realised it isn’t all about differentiating between bricks and mortar and online channels – it’s about bringing both together to form a customer-centric omni-channel experience. For instance, implementing iPads in-store so employees and customers can check stock quicker, share products they like on social platforms and also order products in for click and collect delivery.
But whilst retailers are revelling in the here and now, many other industries are lagging behind. And with technologies like 3D printing, artificial intelligence and 5G on the horizon, businesses across the UK must start getting their digital house in order now if they want to embrace the future.
According to a 2015 study, there could be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020. But with many industries unable to cope with the existing digital ecosystem, what will the future look like? By investing in emerging technologies in 2016, businesses can start to develop a truly digital strategy that not only enables all of their users – from employees to customers – but also propels growth.
Steve Rayner, Group Service Innovation Director at Computacenter
Image Credit: iShutterstock/Nomad_Soul