Digitization helps us to work more efficiently and flexibly and improves teamwork. A solid technical basis is required to make full use of these opportunities.
How will we work in ten years? This is a question that not only trend researchers but also companies should be asking. After all, it is only by preparing for the working world of the future at an early stage that we can stand out from the competition. Although it is not possible to precisely predict every development, one thing is already clear: digitization is taking over the world of work. According to EU statistics, more than half of all employees use a PC for their work.
Networking is key
In fact, we are already one step further on. We are currently in the midst of the mobilization process and thus the end-to-end digitization of work. Ideally, the situation should be the following: applications and data are stored centrally and securely in a cloud and are available from anywhere – thanks to connectivity via mobile communications and the fixed network. Employees can work with their familiar applications at all times, whether they are at home, on the move or at different desks in the office. In order to work together despite being at different locations, teams use digital communication channels such as intranets, chats, document sharing and video conferences – frequently even across country borders.
Companies and employees alike benefit from this method of working. For example, digital collaboration promotes the exchange of knowledge and innovative strength in companies. In addition, projects can be completed faster. Another feature of modern jobs is that working enables employees to balance family and work more easily.
In order to exploit this potential, companies need to ensure the technological basis:
1. Connectivity makes location-independent working possible
Employees can only work independently of their location if they have access to the required applications and data from anywhere and at any time. The prerequisite for this is secure access to the company network via mobile communications or the fixed network, as well as the cloud connection to the wide area network (WAN). International companies must also guarantee connectivity across country borders. Here, they can save time and money by using internationally standardized network services – ideally with automatic provision. Network management is easier when there are as few contact persons on the network provider side as possible.
2. Platforms are at the center of work 4.0
One of the greatest challenges of operating the technology for mobile, collaborative work in a cost-effective manner is the heterogeneous use of applications and software. Companies that use different solutions for web meetings depending on the site and department waste a significant amount of time on maintenance and modifications. Users, in turn, do not want to have to switch to a different app for each communication channel. Companies therefore require secure and highly available platforms. Such platforms provide applications in a standardized form as well as interfaces to other systems (e.g., for messaging) and can be scaled with just a few clicks. For example, a platform for unified communications provides all employees with the same communication channels via an interface.
3. The importance of data security is constantly increasing
The more work processes companies digitize, the more they need to pay attention to data security, in the data centers, during data transmission and on the terminal devices. Apart from the fact that cyber attacks cause financial damage – 445 billion US dollars per year – companies can meet their compliance regulations only with the highest level of IT and network security. In the age of mobile employees, in particular, these employees can endanger the security of company data, for example by installing non-secure mobile apps. The security risk increases if business devices are also used privately – and thus outside the company guidelines. In a global survey by market researchers from Crowd Research Partners, one fifth of companies stated that they had already faced a mobile security problem. An end-to-end security concept should therefore also include a solution for mobile device management.
A comprehensive strategy is missing
How far have we got with digitizing work? In many companies, individual departments and areas are already digitized. According to EU statistics, 65 percent of companies in the European Union currently provide their employees with mobile terminal devices with a mobile Internet connection. Furthermore, according to a McKinsey study, almost all companies across the globe use at least one social technology, such as social networks, for internal collaboration. However, there is still a great deal of potential, as many companies use only individual technological solutions that are not coordinated with one another in an optimal manner. Media interruptions still prevail. Digital working requires a holistic, economic strategy that includes the technologies described above: worldwide connectivity, standardized platforms and the best possible data security. After all, our understanding of the term “work” will also continuously change in the future – and we need to be prepared for this.