A step towards the next generation workplace
While year 2020 shocked us with the pandemic, year 2021 will teach us to live in a pandemic world where social distancing will become part of our daily life, although some voices already predict a kind of revival of the “Golden 20’s” from the last century when Covid-19 will have been pushed-back.
On the positive side, there is a good opportunity to boost social and technological evolutions in the same step. Because people can only meet very restricted and work develops to be more remote, the usage of technology will get an even more importance in our daily life. Robotics may become more important when employees cannot go physically go to work or e.g., sensor technology may evolve faster to detect biologically infected people more reliably and quickly. Therefore, it might be a be good chance to make an evolutionary step in human interaction with technology and approaching the 4thgeneration of industrialization.
All this may lead to changes for us in private life as well as in our working environment. New devices for additional ways of communication may be available soon for our homes (possibly, the TV manufacturers return to include video conferencing again directly into the TV sets), but for business requirements, technology is only half of the story.
Many employees are already working in their home offices, driven by the pandemic. The basic infrastructure for online conferencing or VPN access is in many companies in place or is close to be rolled out, so that employees have access to corporate systems. Because direct, personal communication will be reduced and working hours will become more flexible, weaknesses in business processes will become now much more visible and will result in efficiency loss. Such weaknesses have partly been compensated in the past by e.g., the creativity and personal intervention of employees. This option is now partly cut-off by the need of working remotely. Consequently, business and especially internal corporate processes need now be designed for a higher degree of automation and less personal intervention as well as looking on them with an end-to-end view on digitization (Each missing interface between dependent IT-systems usually requires a manual intervention).
Therefore, technology in the business area need to be even more flexibility to integrate with other components and must be more process oriented, especially considering that employees will work in a remote environment. Therefore, we may expect in the future a new era of applications that will be available with pre-defined best practice processes or at least with the flexibility to easily customize applications for process automation. In the past, so called “appliances” simplified infrastructure components by bundling different technological functionalities into one physical device. Tomorrow, pre-configured corporate processes might be directly integrated into connected applications, allowing fully digitized end-to-end processes in a world of remote workers. Whereas consumer electronics might become more sophisticated in their usability, corporate applications might become more advanced in pre-configured and automated processes for a world that must deal with social distancing and remote work. And maybe we will really get another “Golden 20’s” as a reward.