Technology is evolving rapidly, disrupting industries and introducing new ways of working. It is impacting on business models, revolutionising business processes, and allowing businesses to make informed decisions by tracking and responding to real-time data. Employees now use multiple devices and access corporate information from remote locations, causing concerns about cybersecurity. A new breed of employee has also entered the workforce i.e. the digital native, meaning workforces are multi-generational and one-size-fits-all HR models are no longer suitable. This was the focus of our Thought Leaders breakfast on Workplace Revolution with Anthon Muller, Head of Enterprise Mobility at Vodacom, and Michele Doyle, Associate Director and HR consultant at PwC.
Anton Muller opened the session highlighting that 45% of employees now use two or more mobile devices making mobility top of the IT agenda. With this explosion of device usage, employees are now continuously connected, making them more productive, but also making data security an issue. In a survey of decision makers, 97% have made data security a top priority especially with the knowledge that 90% of hacking is happening at the endpoint i.e. through mobile devices. Anthon says that future workplace trends include mobility, cloud, social media, artificial intelligence, Big Data, and analytics, which are all enablers of the future workplace.
Businesses need to adopt progressive technologies to transform their organisations and attract the right employees. However, digital planning needs to be an integral part of an organisation’s strategy and should be led from the top. By adopting design thinking, both within the organisation and externally, organisations should look at what devices and technologies are required to perform jobs more efficiently, how these devices connect to your network and mobilise your ERP systems. Globally, the security issues are less about managing the devices, but rather the apps which can be controlled remotely.
Focusing on the people aspect of the changing workplace, Michele Doyle of PwC spoke about how we create a future fit workforce. Workplaces are now made up of three generations: Baby Boomers at 21%, Generation X (born from 1965) at 29%, Generation Y (or Millennials born from 1980) at 45% with Generation Z starting to enter the workforce (born from 1994). These generations have different motivations and values relating to work, which requires greater understanding and communication. Millennials, who will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020, value job satisfaction, training and personal development above financial rewards, but can appear to be less loyal and more self-focused. Dealing with a multi-generational workforce requires breaking down the stereotypes and encouraging discussion.
The PwC CEO survey shows that businesses understand the need to innovate, which means adopting different approaches in order to encourage smart thinking. With automation and robots being future disruptive business trends, businesses also need to factor in which jobs robots and artificial intelligence are going to take over as part of their strategies. Interestingly for PwC, one of the highest likely skills to be automated is accounting – the question is, which people skills do you require to support this transformation? Michele concluded by highlighting that women are still under represented at a senior level globally with only 17% of women in leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies. Technology is providing flexible working spaces, which is especially pertinent for working mothers, and organisations need to adopt these strategies to create an inclusive workforce.