The office of the future is not that far away.
Tuesday, January 08, 2019
by Leonardo Kaltenhauser
Transformation has been a part of business for as long as anyone can remember. However, the transformations used to be easier and not as disruptive as we today perceive them.
Digitalization is a very broad term, and depending on your industry and mentality, it leaves much room for interpretation. For one CIO, it means broadband and scalable infrastructure, for the other it means a completely new way of working, such as in the case of automation and machine learning. The meaning depends on the level of maturity of your organization and the business needs in your industry.
One thing most of these definitions have all in common is that there will be a change in future work processes. Of course, this change also impacts the technology we will have to provide, and that the end-user will consume. As such, the digital workplace or the workplace of the future is near and the way our customers will consume internal IT Services will need to change, as users will work anywhere, on any device and with very specialized new applications and tools.
The reasons for embracing this change are obvious:
- Business Efficiency — providing tailor-made and very specific work environments helps employees work faster and more efficiently.
- Cultural change in younger employees — recruiting new talent with digital skillsets will be a key for companies, but this new generation has different motivations than our own. Money alone is not enough motivation for them. They crave work-life-balance as well as a “cool” and inspiring working environment. The company image is at least as important as the pure monetary aspect. Private life and work life will merge and become a symbiosis.
- Agility and Speed — in an era of copy and paste and with access to an endless amount of data, the only sustainable advantage for an enterprise will be speed. Being first and being faster than the competition will make the ultimate difference in the future.
- Usability – if your IT service doesn’t provide a high degree of user satisfaction and consumable user-self-services, the usage will go down and this will impact your business productivity.
The office of the future may be more efficient, but the journey to that future is filled with technical and cultural complexity. Often digitalization requires a huge amount of effort, as the legacy infrastructure and the IT organization remain in place. Clearly, both of these must change. I personally like to distinguish the concepts of Digitalization and Digitation, whereby digitation means to prepare and change the infrastructure and the middleware to enable digitalization. IT organizations must move toward becoming a complete service provider responsible for a specific team instead of a specialized team responsible for a given technical silo.
Let’s take the simple example of document output. Printing is just one facet of output management, document digitalization another, and security (e.g. with a pull print solution and encryption) yet another part of it. For this one facet of IT service, companies still have at least three or more different teams in place. Each focuses solely on its own technological silo, which relates to where the output is coming from and where it needs to go. Think this doesn’t apply to your organization? Think again… if a user has a printing problem, multiple teams scramble to check their technical silos. The desktop team handles the device layer, the print server team checks the middleware (driver settings, queue management, etc.), and then you still have the print device team that is responsible for the printer-device and the card reader for the pull print solution. This becomes even more complex if the print job will be submitted by a mobile device or within a virtual environment like Citrix or VMware.
Hmmm… now we still have backend application printing on top of all this – for example, from SAP systems. Some of these applications are truly business critical, like the software that manages printing in logistics and production processes like labels, freight papers, commissioning lists, etc. Your core business will stall if you cannot print documents like these. As a result, a help ticket will be routed to your SAP basis team. Maybe your network is the problem, as the printer is not reachable. Oh, and don’t forget that some of your systems are running in the cloud now, which presents another problem when it comes to printing and another technical silo to consider within this context.
As you can see, the complexity is enormous and a simple thing like printing turns out to directly affect your business productivity. It makes sense to streamline the architecture for this IT service and modify your support organization accordingly. Instead of having separate technical silos, you may want to establish a centralized printing team that can detect and solve all of the above issues. This is important not only for printing, but for all of your IT services. The more applications, tools, and devices you have, the more critical it is to simplify your environment.
Solutions that help you to reduce complexity and provide a holistic and centralized view are a means to achieve a level of digitation which can enable digitalization. However, it is important not to forget the cultural change involved in moving your IT organization away from single stakeholders and into service-orientated-teams. This is not easy, as our technical colleagues love their ten-year-old systems and applications in which they are considered experts. Who can blame them?
Digital transformation: not ‘if’ but ‘when’
In some ways, digital transformation is pushing us further and further down the road of change. For example, today it is not always possible to buy something and own it. Instead, we pay for access to a certain function. We want the productivity, not the solution.
Today, a growing number of organizations are moving to a digital world where they think of Software as a Service (SaaS) instead of a product they can/need to own. In order to successfully adjust to this world, companies need to educate themselves and learn from other industry leaders. Self-research will only take you so far. It helps to have a trusted partner by your side… especially one with expertise in the field and who is willing to learn about your business and help you develop a long-term strategy. Implementing one “point solution” after another may solve individual problems for a little while, but it’s hardly a strategy for success and will soon lead you into some bigger problems. You need to develop a holistic view of the service needed by your organization instead of looking to raise more isolated technical silos.
Think big, start small
We’ve all heard the old saying: “What’s the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” For nearly four decades, LRS software has been enabling reliable, secure delivery of critical documents to facilitate the continuity of customer business processes.
Instead of providing point solutions that address individual document challenges, we offer an integrated suite of products that handles all aspects of document capture, formatting, protection, and delivery. It just so happens that the individual products in that solution come in bite-sized portions. Our Enterprise Output Management suite is a holistic solution that enables our customers to get rid of their technical silos for digitizing, printing, and scanning documents throughout the entire enterprise architecture. From mainframe to mobile, from desktop to cloud, and from backend to business excellence.
We like to advise customers to ‘think big but start small.’ Organizations can, and often do, start with one or more of our modules from the EOM suite and expand over time as their business requirements change. However, as their needs change in the future, the modular nature of the LRS solution ensures that they can add functionality with minimal effort and cost while protecting the investments they’ve made in their current environment.
LRS offers you to start now and prepare your architecture for the digitalization challenges you will experience in the workplace of the future. With our EOM software suite, you can eliminate all the point solutions you have in place for printing from your different technical channels. By doing this, we not only eliminate the software components but also hundreds of print- and pull-print-authentication servers in your organizations. Furthermore, we reduce significantly the incident- and change management efforts. IDC is reporting 80% less support and 99% more stability by using LRS software. Combined with our user-self-service tools, this often leads to greater user satisfaction and an astounding business case. More importantly, it will prepare your organization for the future of digitalization by providing one standardized backbone for all print, scan, and doc-digitalization services based on one solution.
Regardless of how an organization chooses to print, LRS can manage it from a centralized point of control. All without running the risk of business process interruptions due to printing failures.
What does the future hold for organizations who start a relationship with LRS today? These customers have the certainty that our solutions will meet their needs. No one knows what that future may hold, but from a document output perspective, LRS has it covered. Today, tomorrow, and well into the future.