Christophe Reyes, Managing Director UC at Arkadin, shares his view of current trends in the digital workplace, the future of work and moving to the cloud after attending the Gartner Digital Workplace Summit 2018.
Christophe, there’s a lot of focus on how the workplace is changing and what the Future of Work looks like. In your opinion, what are the key changes?
Some of the key changes I’m seeing with regard to the workplace are around digital (AI), persistent collaboration, mobility and an increasingly horizontal organizational structure within companies.
What’s most important for companies looking to implement these changes is to make sure they have a full strategy. Digital transformation impacts all business areas of a company. Therefore, it needs to be sponsored and led by many different stakeholders across all departments. It’s by far not only an IT topic. If companies approach Digital Transformation in this way, the project may succeed as a tech project but it will fail in terms of transformation.
‘If companies approach Digital Transformation as an IT topic only, the project may succeed as a tech project but it will fail in terms of transformation.’
Could you illustrate this with an example?
Sure. We have a lot of clients whom we help through this transformation. But let me use ourselves as an example here. At Arkadin, we decided to move our emails into the cloud and we succeeded at that. However, at first, the migration was only led by IT. As a result, the transformation was not completed since many employees kept using email. So, we started working with internal ambassadors and change managers to explain the benefits of cloud communications over email to managers. We explained that cloud communications can change the way of managing teams and eventually work better without email. Explaining precisely how to apply the new technology to change employees’ jobs is vital.
‘When delivering digital transformation there needs to be an emphasis on changing the culture to ensure there is complete adoption and implementation.’
You mentioned AI as one of the key changes for the workplace. How should companies go about implementing AI?
When it comes to AI, it’s essential to approach it through pragmatic and small implementations that facilitate the user experience with the technology. That’s why the concept of Virtual Private Assistants (VPA), for instance, is getting increasingly popular. Another use case is of course to automate tasks such as analytics and data reporting. These are tangible projects rather than high-level concepts.
At Arkadin, we are creating such tangible projects through our collaboration with Zoom.ai. Together, we are looking at implementing a virtual assistant into Microsoft Teams which will help employees with tasks such as scheduling meetings, thus reducing the amount of time spent on admin. Any employee can immediately see the benefit of this during day-to-day work.
When talking about the digital workplace, and specifically about digital transformation, what are the key components an IT Manager should start from?
The cloud is a mandatory step and certainly a good starting point. Moving to the cloud enables users to collaborate on the same platform, at the same pace, the same features, and the same speed of innovation. The cloud is a must, but it’s not enough. Moving to the cloud may change the world of IT but it is not immediately going to change the end user’s world. IT Managers will need strong change management in order to adapt their organization’s culture and increase user adoption.
Similarly, business policies need to be adapted to truly facilitate the change to a digital workplace. For instance, the HR environment needs to evolve with new HR policies allowing flexibility and letting employees work remotely. All of this is necessary to shape employees’ mindsets and move towards a truly digital workplace.
‘The cloud is a must, but it’s not enough. Moving to the cloud may change the world of IT but it does not immediately change the end user’s world.’
At the beginning of this month, you attended the Gartner Digital Workplace Summit in London where many of these topics were discussed among industry experts. What are some of your key takeaways from the event?
The event gave a good overview of the state of the industry, the new technologies coming in the next three years and the readiness of organizations.
There was a big focus on AI, do you think businesses are ready for this transformation?
AI applied to analytics is going to be key. It’s about using AI to help people to make faster and better decisions. However, businesses are not ready, yet. There is still much work to be done in the next ten years for AI to be implemented effectively. Technology always moves much faster than businesses. This is why change management is so important.