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Modern business: If you don't embrace change and agility, you'll fail

ITProPortal has set up camp at the Emirates Stadium, the home of Arsenal Football Club, to attend the Modern Office conference.

The flavour of the day is business technology, and around 100 SMEs and journalists have gathered to soak up words of wisdom from speakers from the likes of Microsoft and Cloudamour.

First to take the stage was Chris Rothwell, Microsoft's small and medium business channel development manager, whose talk revolved around the ways in which technology has transformed the world of work.

While "megatrends" such as cloud, mobility and big data have hogged the headlines (and rightly so) over recent years, Rothwell believes that working anywhere, social business and business insight are some of the perhaps lesser-known themes we need to focus more on.

"Work is no longer a place but an activity," said Rothwell, and people are now waking up to that, asking themselves whether the office is really the most suitable setting for business needs. Every tool a worker needs can now fit inside a rucksack, and that is something employers really need to consider.

The rise of this mobile lifestyle has brought with it the BYOD revolution, and it is clear that flexibility in the workplace is now essential. However, increased mobility has also boosted the amount of work hours spent outside the office, and employers still don't trust off-site workers (employees working from home still tend to send more emails and make more phone calls than they normally would, purely to appear "more visible"). Rothwell says that our attitudes have to change.

He also believes that technology has failed us in the realm of social business.

According to a 2011 Gallup survey, 71 per cent of employees are "not engaged" with their company, desk-bound and held back by outdated technologies, such as email. Rothwell believes that an injection of agility can drastically improve this figure, instigating a positive organisational change.

While technology is indeed an integral part of modern business, enabling workers and helping to boost revenue and growth, it should not be so dominant that it bogs everything else down. In Rothwell's eyes, a successful business is built up of 10 per cent technology, 40 per cent culture and 50 per cent leadership.

Mitchell Feldman, the founder and managing director of Cloudamour, also thinks that businesses need to be more open to change. While many leaders still sit back and talk about how the so-called "Facebook generation" - also known as "Generation Y" - will transform the world in the future, Feldman says that this is already happening.

According to Feldman, Steve Ballmer's decision to step away from Microsoft's helm is a great example. Ballmer, one of the great figureheads of the technology industry, knows full well that his company needs to evolve and embrace a new culture, and his expertise is no longer the best way forward.

As Feldman says, "If you do not change, you will be left behind."

However, he also thinks that Ballmer has chosen to leave the tech giant at the perfect time, leaving behind "the best parting gift" possible in Microsoft's cloud offerings.

To really drill home the message, Rothwell closed his speech with a powerful question: "If you could start your business again today, what would you do differently?"

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