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Using workspace aggregators to deliver on business agility

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/bikeriderlondon)

In an ideal world, business requirements should seamlessly translate into strategic plans for the IT teams – with the value that both teams derive from the project perfectly converging. But often, this is not the case, thanks to a plethora of misaligned incentives, including diverging motivations behind adopting new technology, clashing business and IT cycles, as well as an underlying sense of mistrust between the two teams involved. To ensure success from any technology update and digital transformation project, it is imperative for IT teams to include business stakeholders in the conversation from the start. This will enable more agility, better understanding of the end game and the ability to create real impact.

The last ten years have seen an explosion in innovation, with the speed in technology development driving faster business cycles. However, a staggering 84 per cent of digital transformation projects fail to deliver their expected benefits. One of the top reasons cited for this failure is the disconnect between the transformation project and the business strategy it was expected to embody. In other words, the breakdown of communication between business teams who should be driving transformation agendas and the IT teams who actually have to execute them.

Setting the agenda for digital transformation projects

Often, IT teams within companies are driven to undergo digital transformation projects by external factors, including similar projects amongst competitors or the introduction of new technology into the market.

However, for a digital transformation project – or even a singular technology update – to be a success, business teams need to be involved from the get-go. The first thing would be to understand the business issue that needs to be addressed. For instance, an organisation may want to reduce production lead time, increase speed-to-market, and improve the use of data in its global supply chain. After these concrete goals have been established, the IT teams can then decide which digital tools it should adopt to address each of these scenarios. There is no single technology that will deliver speed or innovation as such. The best combination of tools for a given organisation will vary from one business vision to another.

In the retail space for instance, customers are increasingly shopping online or via apps. This has put unprecedented pressure on retailers to invest in the right technologies, while taking a customer-centric approach to design. However, before rushing to upgrade online offerings, it is vital to involve business teams in the conversation. It may be that a retailer’s target consumer base prefers shopping in-store, or they prefer browsing online and then buying in-store – taking these nuances into account can make or break a technology project’s success.

Agility: a common interest with common goals

Traditionally, IT was viewed by business as a cost. As a result, companies outsourced a majority of their IT to get the services required with minimal expenditure. However, in the competitive market of today, IT teams are central not just to the relevance, but the survival of organisations. For companies around the world, agility is now associated with the Silicon Valley mindset of ‘move fast and break things’ – constantly working towards the next innovation or iteration to stay ahead in the game. However, agility can be more accurately described as the convergence of the objectives of business teams and IT teams, aligning what a company ‘needs to do’ and what a company ‘is able to do’.

The method of communication between the two teams also needs to be quick, moving beyond the current channels that involve endless paperwork. This could involve the setting up of regular meetings, using seamless communication channels, or even physically being in the same room when working on a change project.

If an innovation starts and ends in the silo of an IT team, it paves its own way to failure. Adopting an agile approach and mindset across teams – through regular communication, aligned objectives and a dedication to self-improvement – provides a strong foundation for a business to react quickly and flexibly to a new trend or situation, and to keep innovating in the process.

Measure, evaluate, re-think, repeat

Nine to five working in a single office location is, for the most part, a thing of the past. In fact, according to a recent study only 14 per cent of employees would stick to these traditional working hours. The very nature of business, and those that work within it, has shifted from rigid processes to more agile practices to enable them to be more productive and competitive. Modern technologies have transformed the way in which organisations can deliver these agile solutions for their customers and clients whilst enabling employees to adopt flexible and remote working habits. However, how these technologies are actually being used in the workplace paints a very different picture as many workers feel their companies could be doing more to drive innovation and provide more advanced tools to meet their needs.  The Employee Experience report by Insight surveyed over 2,000 UK office workers and, amongst its findings, it was discovered that less than a third (29 per cent) of employees stated that they were happy with the technology used within the workspace.

Despite the numerous tools, mobile apps and cloud-based platforms available to modern businesses it seems that many organisations are still experiencing roadblocks in widespread adoption. In order to overcome this challenge, businesses are implementing Workspace Aggregators to pioneer productive and remote working.

As a term first coined by Gartner, Workspace Aggregators provide access to applications, data and services across multiple devices and operating systems no matter their location as business resources and cloud services are “aggregated” into a digital work environment and accessible via a web browser or app. Workspace Aggregators represent a significant step towards computer environments that are independent of hardware and operating systems. In addition to allowing organisations to manage their apps more intuitively, it enables a truly digital workspace by combining apps into one dashboard and making them immediately available to use - giving employees access to tools that drive productivity whilst empowering them to work remotely.

Fulfilling employee expectations with flexibility

As more generation Z workers enter the workplace, the digital landscape in the office are becoming recognised for their out-dated and restricting technologies. Traditional ways of working no longer cohere with employees’ growing demand for flexible working, with 89 per cent of British workers stating that flexible working hours would boost their productivity at work. Therefore, companies are feeling the pressure to begin adopting the appropriate software to deliver on staff needs.

Implementing Workspace Aggregators into the workplace is a is a logical, secure and robust solution for meeting employees’ digital needs. They leverage cloud services allowing access to be entirely web-based and provide a central portal for the execution of tasks that are independent of the end device. With this in place, employees are able to work from multiple locations to wherever is most convenient for them. This will boost employee satisfaction, engagement and productivity. Additionally, with Workspace Aggregator tools installed, IT departments can deliver all applications and data on PCs, tablets, and smartphones securely and in a controlled manner, providing the end-user with a smooth experience and avoiding any traditional IT-support issues. 

Additionally, for employers, workplace aggregators that create collaborative workspaces, can simplify yours and employees' daily tasks by adopting easy-to-use tools. By deploying this, businesses will increase the awareness and adoption of unified communications solutions with full visibility and monitoring options. With this in place workloads can be checked and completed at a higher-rate, increasing efficiency and work accuracy.

Meeting demands in 2020

By 2020, an average worker will own four interconnected electronic devices. In addition, the speed at which users accept new devices is enormously high. So, employers need to recognise the advantages of their staff equipping themselves with multiple tools to stay connected. Furthermore, employees now use their own equipment instead of hardware provided by the employer. This brings with it a number of advantages as well as new requirements for IT security and the IT architecture of companies. Since new devices are used by employees at their workplaces faster than the company’s IT can react, endpoint management must be proactive, for example using a workspace aggregator which can internally solve the problem within the software.

According to Gartner, the full potential of a workspace aggregator’s contribution is yet to be fully utilised and businesses have only just scratched the surface of its benefits. The Workspace Aggregator represents a ground-breaking step towards computer environments that are independent of the hardware used and increasingly independent of the operating system. They help companies use and manage their apps more intuitively. The savings companies will experience from enabling the concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), will help invest into other departments of the business. In addition, this technology enables the experience of a true digital workspace by combining multiple apps in a mobile dashboard and making them directly usable – from anywhere, anytime.

Dominik Birgelen, CEO, oneclick AG

Dominik studied business administration at the University of Zurich. Since 2015, he has been the CEO of oneclick AG and is responsible for the development of international markets.