By Brendan McAvarey, country manager, Citrix South Africa
The world we live in today is barely recognisable from just 10 or even five years ago. As we react to the aftermath of significant political and economic change, organisations have been forced to accept long-term slower economic growth, creating new and innovative business models to survive and thrive.
The downturn has also had ramifications on the way organisations work, with many forced to scale back real-estate in favour of remote working or ‘hot desking’ in a bid to cut costs. These moves have led to more a distributed and complex web of employees, suppliers and customers which must communicate and collaborate in new and uncharted ways.
Against the backdrop of this global uncertainty, new generations are increasingly influencing the cultures and practices of organisations, with millennials set to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. These are forming a new tech-savvy ‘middle class’ among the workforce, challenging established processes and driving change fast.
Managing complex relationships
With a combination of key structural changes, distributed working patterns and generational clashes all at play, this new way of working typically requires changes in culture, management styles and communication channels to succeed. These processes must all work in tandem to ensure staff are motivated and - crucially - customers are maintained. With these new digital workspaces, people have the freedom and flexibility to change how (and where) work gets done according to their preferences.
Yet, making this change requires individuals with a flair for managing these more complex, tech-enabled networks - and this is especially relevant with today’s more informed customer at its heart.
For example, now when consumers are considering a purchase, the buying cycle typically starts with a visit to Google. This is then followed-up with moves to educate themselves across all types of media - from checking peer reviews to looking at brands’ social feeds and asking their friends’ advice. So much so that two-thirds of this process is complete before there is even an interaction with salesperson - if there’s one at all.
Changing face of the workforce
And just as customers are now more educated and engaged with technology, so is our workforce. Here in South Africa, the different cultural biases and ideas being driven at work are coming from the millennial generation, who need to be engaged and served in a variety of ways.
What is unique about this generation, beyond their sheer size, is they have grown up in a digital world with broadband, smartphones, and social media as the norm. These digital natives expect instant access to information and in many cases have a better grasp of the key business tools available today than their senior colleagues.
This puts them in a strong position to embrace such a growing mobile-working culture. And, of course, mobility comes in many more forms today than simply the smartphone - with devices, sensors and end-points representing billions of connected ‘things’. All of this has the ability to scale due to cloud computing becoming mainstream.
These converging and accelerating forces are putting new pressures on our customers to digitise their businesses even faster. They know that if they don’t, they run the risk of becoming obsolete.
Making IT work in today’s mobile world
Businesses themselves are also more volatile through market consolidation plays, boom and bust growth cycles or brand-affecting service disruptions. We’re in a place where legacy business applications, systems and processes are still needed but somehow must work with the new or the newly acquired. All of these factors are together leading to an increasingly complex IT world.
Make no mistake about it, these are huge challenges to tackle. But the opportunities to transform are rife. Technology companies should no longer in the business of just selling a product license or a piece of technology. Today, their goal should be helping organisations survive - by giving customers the potential to digitally transform their workspaces into something brand new.
We believe we play a key role for firms as the only technology company that combines market-leading app delivery, mobility, file sharing, and networking services - which all combine to deliver a best-in-class working environment and customer experience, underpinned by the cloud.
By unifying apps and data in secure digital workspaces, people are able to complete tasks on any device, anywhere, at any time. This means their businesses are more agile, their data and IP is protected, and they are able to engage with their complex web of employees, suppliers and customers in new ways, boosting collaboration, and driving innovation and positive change.
The world has changed – and customers have changed with it. With changing workforces, shifting expectations and growing demands, our role is to enable businesses to act now to ensure they’re not left behind.