The Netflix effect: On demand offices

If you look at the world’s most exciting new businesses, you’ll notice a common trend: they are nearly all service offerings. From Airbnb to Deliveroo, Uber to Netflix, these Silicon Valley-style investment-magnets produce nothing themselves, yet collectively they satisfy millions of consumers’ needs on a daily basis. They have answered the growing demand and shifting mindset of what consumers want by providing them with easy, readily available services on a just-in-time or subscription-based model. Most importantly, they are doing so at a more attractive price point than their less flexible competitors.

Inspiring new services

This lifestyle trend is inspiring new services for all sorts of things, some as simple as running out of printer ink. Along the same lines as your favourite subscription services, HP has invented HP Instant Ink, whereby a new cartridge arrives at your door before you even knew you needed it. This means that you never run out of ink again and offers up to 70% savings at the same time. Harnessing the power of the Internet of Things, your printer tells HP when you need ink before it alerts you – saving consumers time, money, energy and frustration!

There is a growing appetite for this model in the workplace too – both in terms of the physical space and the technology within it. Increasingly, both the self-employed and businesses are dismissing the shackles of long-term office lets and favouring flexible, affordable office solutions which can be rented per desk, per week – sometimes even by the hour.

Equally, with ICT budgets under increasing strain and the need for businesses to retain as much capital as possible, huge initial outlays for technology or business services are becoming harder to justify. Instead of looking solely at the devices themselves, many CIOs are looking at the whole workspace, to provide as-a-service benefits with minimised initial output. This new way of thinking – and buying – gives a holistic approach that incorporates services, set-up, the products themselves as well as regular updates. It’s all about thinking – and acting – smart.

Workspaces of the future

Now, more than ever, companies want technology that is flexible and that can be scaled as they grow and adapted as their business needs change. Added to this, a shift towards cloud and mobile can mean a more complex picture for CIOs. In fact, in a recent IDC study, 40% of ICT decision makers revealed that they engaged in or were considering subscribing to a PC-as-a-service model in the future.

And here’s where the workspace of the future comes into its own – by allowing businesses to have access to the latest technology but also the support and technical know-how to get the best out of it. Cost cutting is not enough; it’s all about ensuring instant added value throughout teams, departments… and all with global scalability.

The benefits of the Netflix effect

In its simplest form, as-a-service offers a set ‘price per seat’. The lack of initial outlay is music to the ears of the company’s FD, while the prospect of a uniform approach business-wide aligns with the CIO’s own goals.

The benefits are extensive. As-a-service solutions can be tailored to any organisation, allowing customers to evolve their hardware to reflect the changing needs of the business. They should also offer security as a standard part of the service and customers should be wary of any that don’t. In addition, analytics dashboards can allow remote monitoring before an issue even occurs.

These elements were at the forefront of our minds when we built and launched our own as-a-service offering, with security as an absolute priority. As we see it, the ability to know when a battery needs changing before it dies in the middle of a business trip or at an important meeting can be a mission-critical enhancement to the way employees and companies operate. This foresight means that a battery can simply be replaced without the need to change PCs, which is a huge advantage with increasingly hectic work and travel schedules.

Overall, these solutions can also help cut costs, keep hardware up to date, and ensure that old equipment can be recycled. All in all, a major win-win.

The greatest differentiator though is the focus on the people using the technology. In so many aspects of our lives we are unwilling to accept ‘a one size fits all’ policy – be it for take-aways, taxis or movie-watching. And now, through as-a-service offerings, this is extending into the workplace. The benefits to the user are clear; better and more up-to-date equipment, an ongoing support system, updates and configurations managed seamlessly in the background.

The Netflix effect is coming to the IT business, and those that stay ahead of the curve will reap the biggest rewards – for their customers, their employees, and themselves.

George Brasher, Managing Director, UK & Ireland, HP