This post is not about Microsoft nor its soon to be released operating system. Instead this post is all about change.
For most of us the operating system of the past years gave us control over our hardware and applications, but now the operating system is the proxy to our experiences. Look at Apple – they have been pretty successful in this department for many years.
Why is this important?
For the first time we are going to witness a convergence of ‘digital’ with everything we do – including the operating systems we will use.
Organisations are getting on the digital bus and building their Digital Strategy as the real catalyst for change as they look to rewire their business through its use of information, processes, client interaction and most importantly, their people.
Business leaders of course ultimately are only interested in what ‘being digital’ can do to their top and bottom number, and many are way down a maturity evolution road where they have made strategic investments in ‘going digital’. Digital is all about how you engage with your customers, how you deliver services to devices, how you analyse clients information, how you develop your talent and perhaps most importantly, how you empower your workforce. And here we have the moment of change that the next ‘operating system’ may have a significant play on events as they unfold.
These three words – Empower Your Workforce – are going to be the big factors for those organisations that successfully deliver a digital strategy that drives business growth and those that fail. Can you imagine how you can meet the demands of the business through digital change programmes if the underlying device you give your workers is just simply not ‘up for it’? Tough call in the board room if your only defence is ‘our strategy was to sweat the assets like we have always done’.
Assuming that cloud with its hyperscale both public, private and hybrid fixes a lot of the legacy IT issues like speed of delivery, business continuity and financial management of IT ( at last ) and assume that Shadow IT is actually embraced ( and not ignored ) service delivery pespective ( Forrester said recently that 32% of Business Units buy their own IT Services ) , the big decisions that need to be facing is how to give a better experience to the worker to consume existing services, build new ones and create market differentiation. Assuming that people are the greatest asset in any organisation of course which I think is now a given?
And dont let loose sight that as we start to talk about workers , we also need to bring in the ‘device’ they use because we are no longer talking about the traditional PC, laptop, smartphone and tablet territory. We will be including many forms of interactive ‘glass’ and smart devices as the Internet of Things (IoT) movement starts to blend into our thinking and plans for the future. All these ‘devices’ and ‘pieces of glass’ are going to be what gives our workers the empowerment they need for us to realise our digital plans. Now what of the operating system against this landscape. Its going to change for ever, and this is why I think the next few years are going to be really interesting for people who make money supporting clients with their ‘operating system’ plans, and for those charged with managing these ‘operating systems’.
Humans and machines is where a lot people will say where we are headed; they are probably right as organisations move from the darkness of legacy analog IT world into a digital first world.
The smart organisations that are further down the digital maturity curve than perhaps their competitors are the ones that take the ‘operating system’ seriously as they evolve their thinking and planning not just based on ‘50% of our hardware needs refreshing next year” or ” support runs out on our kit soon we better do something”. Greater consciousness about the experience delivered to workers is changing the landscape, and ‘experience professionals’ are appearing more and more. These roles are not just about aesthetics; but focus on how people – workers and clients – interact with information across devices, work areas and business situations. Significant money goes into work place design as architects merge digital tooling with the physical patterns of the workspace. They do this to make their workforce happier and ultimately more producitive, and evidence is now showing that converging this thinking is working positively. And they achieve this by linking the persona of their workers right through to how they build tools and services that support the digital strategy.
A committed digital organisation will build interfaces and services into their information both for workers and clients, leveraging no doubt cloud services ( APIs ) that make the experience as seamless as possible, removing any barrier from getting to the right information, regardless of the device or location.
These organisations accept that business units will spend their own budget on technology solutions, and will provide suitable frameworks to allow this to happen proactively and securely. I hate the word Shadow IT and prefer Hybrid IT because I sense this is what is happening.The crux is that the organisation must own the digital strategy, empower people to build and communicate and to subsequently put in the investment to deliver the tools and experiences. The operating system will just form part of the shopping list albeit a much more important list than ever before.
You see a perfect storm is brewing that is converging the forces of Social engagement, Cloud access, Information deluge and Mobile collaboration not only in our personal lives but also our corporate working day. Gone for ever are the days where our working day and technology entitlement was governed by our seniority, and therefore how much RAM and hard drive we were entitled to. The ‘hardware’ is now sorted with rich variants of the cloud knocking over classic IT issues and the emergence of universal corporate apps that can run on any device independant of the manufacturer and underlying operating system will blend into the working world.
These forces will come at us different shapes, sizes, timescales and intensity depending on our personas at work, corporate digital vision of who we work for , social preferences as we stay in touch with colleagues and clients, and how we move around our office and between locations. Our working practices we enjoy today and where they will be tomorrow see us take advantage of so much more freedom than afforded from those heady days of a static device and monolithic operating system that controlled our access to resources and gave us standard applications to use. These practices are influenced by our working conditions both as employees and our entitlement to flexible working hours, choice of device and incentives to reduce travel and so on.
Our persona now dominates how we get through the day at work and it drives the choice of technology we need to be the most productive. And of course we are changing our buildings to meet the needs of our working patterns, and we are now been given different environments to suit our collaboration, privacy and reflective moments. We talk about hot desk areas in a new context of encouraging privacy, contemplation and collision moments. We expect to carry information around on different devices, use different work surfaces to view information and use different media to communicate. We decorate our offices much differently than we did, and we are updating our corporate social responsibility policies to allow our workers to be more flexible and able to pursue health working initiatives. Digitisation is a factor in this change, and its a big bet play for organisations wanting to flourish. In fact by 2018, Gartner says that the digital business will require 50% fewer business process workers and 500% more key digital business jobs, compared with traditional models, so there is likely to be something in all this.
So if you find that someone is talking about the features and benefits of Microsoft’s or anyone else’s technology without talking about the relationship they have within the context of a digital journey, then I would challenge them to loop back and start again.Its tough but the successful organisations are the ones that will join the dots, bring in the right people at the top, work with the smartest ( not biggest ) partners and manage to run in parallel their IT service ( speed one ) and their new digital service ( speed two ).
Digitalization and the digital business are catalysts of change that are affecting the human-machine relationship and driving better customer outcomes, and the operating system that allows the worker to use a range of devices, interfaces and experiences to exploit and manipulate information and knowledge in a better way should form a key building block of any digital strategy.
At the end of the day, our world has shifted right caused by the ripple of consumer IT to a Me strategy where the individual’s use of technology is so much more dominant and therefore crucial to a business operation, where in the past it was more about a We strategy with little regard to the worker, their individual persona and their need for a ‘smarter’ operating system.
Things are now changing and if Microsoft have the answer then its our job to make sure we understand the question – because there are going to be several to ask I suspect 🙂