Are You Investing in Your Long-Term Future? New Study Shows the Critical Role of Technology.

03/29/2017 07:49 am ET

Technology advances are perhaps the most significant catalysts and drivers of the evolution toward Future-of-Work environments. Companies that are slow to adapt, adopt, and integrate technology are losing substantially more than just the benefit of more efficient and effective ways of operating. An organization’s future success can be considerably undermined by a lack of investment in the long-term to realize the business’ digitally-transformed potential, resulting in insufficient support of workforce innovation or the inability to attract younger talent as the engine of future growth.

Fuze, a global, cloud-based unified communications platform, yesterday published a new study, Breaking Barriers 2020, that indicates a detrimental disconnect in the approach to technology within organizations. This surfaces in the differing attitudes between senior company executives and IT departments as to the appropriate focus of IT and desired results. In addition, a diverse range of generational reactions, uses, and needs relating to technology is increasingly complex to address effectively without a strategic and long-term investment approach.

Digital transformation is a core element of the Future of Work and the new working circumstances that many organizations are in the process of evolving to in order to attract, engage and retain their workers. These companies are articulating their cultural values, incorporating workplace flexibility, and considering other new attributes such as more transparency, a more responsive organization design and flatter hierarchy.

Technology has an integral role in both generating the changes as well as supporting the new work situations. As a result of technical developments, work can be enabled to be more of an activity than being tied to a fixed time and place, and employee situations may be personalized to stimulate engagement and improve productivity. Embedding technology can certainly also cause important business model disruption, as well as core operational deployment improving processes and providing important other talent-related customization features.

Therefore, the CIO and the IT department are essential for development of the technology portion—a fundamental and strategic component—of a viable plan and tactics for a company’s transition to their desired projected new working environment. Indeed, Fuze’s research shows IT leaders are prepared to make dramatic changes in order to “champion innovation and digital transformation”. However, instead, senior executives are “confining IT to a cost-reduction function”.

Projecting the workplace of the future where offices are less prevalent and workers very mobile and connected, the study revealed that 83% of workers do not believe they need to be in an office to be productive. So, complexity is increasing for IT leaders as they cater to the different needs of in-office, mobile and remote workers, adjusting for their individual comfort and familiarity with new devices, technology applications, features, and locations – whether their own or company-provided.

Furthermore, IT leaders are also looking to incorporate the digitally-imbued perspectives and needs of younger cadres - whether recent advents to the workforce or the “App Generation” (1999 onwards) anticipated in the coming years. Up-to-date enterprise technology and seamless employee-focused applications are both an attraction and even a necessity to retain them. 75% of the App Generation wants to be able to use the latest technology at work. Meanwhile, the research also found that 82% of office workers believe that young people will help refresh approaches to technology, while almost three quarters (74%) of IT leaders believe that younger employees help drive innovation. However, senior executives are not promoting a critical and strategic emphasis on technology to help hire and empower young workers and their creativity.

The discrepancies revealed by the research raise concerns about those companies not moving to adopt and integrate technology that the App Generation has already embraced, especially considering more than three quarters of IT leaders believing that IT departments have the ability to drive success for the business. However, the majority of these organizations are focused too much on reducing IT costs rather than looking to invest with a long-term and expansive vision of their digitized future.

How involved is your CIO in your business’s strategic planning as well as determining core processes? How much is your company investing in the future?

Sophie is the Workforce Innovation Specialist at Flexcel Network. She helps companies transition to very new ways of working, dealing with issues such as workplace flexibility, talent management, Millennial demands and new employee career paradigms. Her new book Embracing Progress is available for preorder on Amazon and will be released May 1, 2017. She speaks frequently to corporate and professional audiences about Future-of-Work issues. Sophie is also President of the NYC chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. Follow her @ASophieWade

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