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Workplace services revolution blog

A workplace revolution is here, and your business must change

Technology has transformed the world in the last 20 years. It has created more disruption than we have ever seen. This has given rise to a new breed of organisation, born with technology, with virtual products and speed and agility unprecedented when compared with traditional business processes.

The changing world of work, the digitisation of the office has fundamentally changed the landscape and this has driven the need to change across many businesses and marketplace.

“When I sat down to write The World is Flat: Facebook didn’t exist, Twitter was still a sound, the cloud was still in the sky, 4G was a parking place, LinkedIn was a prison, applications were what you sent to college, and Skype was a typo.” Thomas Friedman

A revolution is here

The industrial revolution provided mass production on a grand scale by creating the ability to ‘produce’ through giant physical infrastructures supported by equally large workforces. The work carried out by the workforce was integrated into the manufacturing process, and so manual work was enhanced by machine and automation. At this stage because machine “intelligence” and supporting technology didn’t exist, people filled in these gaps.

Today we are seeing the rise of the mass outsourcing model, often with no direct ‘product’ but built on other providers, services or products. Imagine a company which effectively provided a cheap service where it would take your product. The company would provide marketing, take the sales orders, process and invoice them, collect the cash, manage the stock, deliver the product to the end customer and deal with returns or queries, effectively a complete “outsourced” model. All you need is an idea and the product.

These companies exist, Amazon is one example along with eBay and many others. This suddenly means that with a simple idea, the cost and time of entering the marketplace is no longer a key limitation. There are thousands of examples where large million dollar businesses have started (and continue) using this model.

The advantage of agility

There is a distinct advantage for those businesses created in the post IT revolution world. Their internal processes, the systems and methods by which they trade have been designed with the automation and efficiency through technology at the very core of their infrastructure.

The growth of these businesses is typically faster than the traditional business and this is enabled through technology and the agility inherent in the systems they create.

Now, compare this to the traditional business, trading for decades in the same marketplace, grown to a large corporate which a typical infrastructure and workforce. These “traditional businesses” have grown slowly, organically into huge businesses. During the growth, they typically run on the same processes and infrastructure they have always done, introducing technology in isolate or silo’d areas where appropriate, but often the fundamental method by which they do business hasn’t changed, because it hasn’t needed to. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach.

A new breed

Recently though, new “internet” businesses have overtaken the large corporates. A new breed of business is disrupting decades of predictable growth and comfortable trading. This is forcing corporations to change. We are in a critical time where large organisations need to radically change to compete in a transparent marketplace supported by technology.

This disruption is driving huge change in culture, systems, processes and fundamentally the “way of working” across virtually all large businesses. The fear of changing has now been replaced with the fear of not changing.

To summarise, the disruption felt by businesses in the digital age, the impact of social media and connectivity across individuals has placed in the hands of the many the previous ‘barriers’ to entering the marketplace.

With a great idea there is now the potential to massively disrupt the standard corporate model. We are also seeing two “speeds” of business, the new post IT revolution organization and the legacy “corporate”, with the large corporate now fundamentally challenging themselves to change and adapt to the new world.

Find out more about how Ricoh has helped our partners optimise their workplaces, with our expert Workplace Services team. Click here.

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