Technology is the single most important external factor influencing organisations today, and it is fundamentally changing the business environment.
No longer is IT limited to an administrative back office tool – today, technology is everywhere, from the back end right through to customer engagement. This digital world opens up a host of possibilities and opportunities to revolutionise practices and processes and driving greater efficiencies. But it also presents a challenge, one that is exacerbated by the emergence of Generation Y into the workforce. Organisations need to rethink their workplace, not only to develop the necessary agility and flexibility to remain competitive, but to cater to the employee of the future.
The workplace of today is often a very prescriptive place. Employees are told what to do and when to do it, and are dictated to as to the equipment they are permitted to do their jobs on. This model has worked for many years, and as a result organisations are somewhat reluctant to change. However, Generation Y chafes under the restrictive nature of such an environment. This generation has been brought up in a world where technology is ubiquitous and they are taught to question everything. They have become accustomed to consumerised technology, and expect the same in the workplace. They want to bring their own devices, download applications, and create an experience that parallels that which they are used to in their everyday lives.
The reality is that companies that cannot accommodate the new generation are going to lose out. These are the very people who disrupt current thinking, drive innovation, and use technology in new ways to create new ways of doing business. The world is changing, and businesses need to adapt in order to keep pace. Generation Y is not bound to any particular place or any particular device – they are always on, always connected – and this is disrupting existing thinking, whether organisations are ready for it or not.
Technology needs to be integrated with this new and dynamic world, but for IT departments this is a massive challenge. Security is the chief concern, especially with legislation like the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act due to be enforceable from the end of 2015.
Organisations are faced with the challenge of creating a workplace that supports Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the ability to work from anywhere, at any time, on any platform, while still ensuring data is secure and cannot be compromised.
Managing the integration of a new generation into the workplace, the complexities of BYOD and the disruption these cause, while ensuring compliance with legislation designed to protect data integrity, such as PoPI, is a challenging task. Enterprises need to create a Dynamic Workplace to cater to the growing need to be able to work any time, on any device, with applications both personal and company-owned.
Kim Andersen, CTO at T-Systems in South Africa