Attempting to predict the future can be a risky endeavour but its lure can be irresistible for those of us who work in the technology sector.
Issues such as the continuing disruptive impact of new technologies on the way we work, the changing demographic profile of our workforce as well as the increasingly diverse and complex expectation of employees and management alike about how people should be allowed to work, collaborate and share information are making the job of the IT manager more challenging, more difficult to predict and also more stimulating.
And it is in the context of these themes that I have set out my five predictions for the trends and potential developments that I believe are likely to have a significant impact on IT managers over the next 12 months and beyond.
Trends to watch
- Workflow becomes truly mobile – Workstyle innovation has driven the rise of a mobile workforce that can be just as productive outside the office. However, it is fair to say that this relates mainly to the functions of being able to log onto the company network, print, and access certain databases through the company VPN. During 2016 I believe that we will see the start of real mobility in business processes where remote workers will be able to extend back office business applications directly into mobile devices. As a result, processes will be completed faster and more accurately. Mobile workforces will have the flexibility to complete business forms on their devices, reducing the need for paper-based forms used today.
- Cloud printing and scanning – Mobile printing and scanning continues to grow in popularity but it also continues to challenge many IT managers, raising questions about how they should approach issues such as security, control and the governance processes that most organisations will require to ensure the security and integrity of their information. The rise of cloud printing and scanning is often tied closely with the introduction of a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy. I believe that cloud-based services, such as start.ricoh – which links an organisation’s printers and MFPs to mobile devices securely – will continue to grow in popularity as more IT managers understand that employee productivity and mobility can be managed effectively in the cloud.
- BYOD – I believe that BYOD will continue to make greater inroads into mainstream corporate organisations during 2016. In addition, I believe that forward-thinking IT managers will realise that BYOD in itself is not a problem. It’s the lack of clearly-articulated policies, security frameworks and governance models to manage such devices in the workplace that are the real challenge. My personal view is that many more IT managers and senior management teams will come to accept BYOD as an inevitable development and will look to deploy it to enhance the productivity of their workforce.
- Generation Z – The profile of our workforce is changing and, in my opinion, we’re likely to see a great deal more innovative approaches and new thinking in the way organisations plan to cater for the needs and wants of their employees. Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials, who together make up our workforce currently, are about to be joined by Generation Z. This new group refers to those who are born after 1995 and are starting to leave education for the world of work. According to new research into the 4G Workplace, commissioned by Ricoh and carried out by Coleman Parkes Research, Generation Z is likely to be attracted to companies that offer technology to enable people to work more efficiently.
- Evolving role of the IT department – I believe the IT department’s traditional role as the custodian of IT infrastructure will continue to change and expand. In my view, many more IT managers will see themselves as workstyle innovation champions and enablers of organisational productivity, and many more IT departments will extend their set of responsibilities to include employee empowerment. In addition, more and more IT managers will work closely with managers in other departments to identify and implement new technologies and new ways of working to support the changing workstyles of their employees and thereby help to create more agile, mobile and productive organisations.