At the first roundtable on the transformation of the digital work environment, economist Nicolas Bouzou described some recent economic and technological changes in business. We then talked about the uses and challenges of the future workstation. Below is a summary of our discussion.
“you can hear the tree fall but not the forest grow”
Today’s businesses are faced with the paradox of “creative destruction.” Nicolas Bouzou noted that steamboat builders, blinded by their own interests, rioted when the first railroad projects began in 1842. They failed to recognize the revolutionary quality of this new mode of transport. We see the same thing happening with the digital transformation of business: “you can hear the tree fall but not the forest grow.”
He then cited Schumpeter’s principle, which states that innovation comes in waves, and added that new technologies enable multiple uses: “originally, the internet was created to protect the Pentagon’s data, not to find a date on match.com.”
But what does any of this have to do with the new workstation, you ask? Nicolas Bouzou concludes that the buzzword will be “adaptation.” In this phase of hyper-creative destruction that is transforming the digital work environment, the businesses that survive will be those that adapt to their new surroundings. They must permanently innovate and test boundaries, at the risk of “having no plan and taking a few steps backward.”
“how can you prohibit employees from using Facebook when you give them the tools to answer emails at 11 PM?”
Innovation is changing the very scope of jobs. Consultants can now use their smartphones to send their timesheets on the train, fill out their expense forms with a business app and have live discussions with customers via videoconferencing. These new mobile tools blur the line between professional and private life, while also changing space and time: “how can you prohibit employees from using Facebook when you give them the tools to answer emails at 11 PM?”
New uses for future workstations are clearly emerging. I’ll only list three of them:
- consumerization of IT and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), considering that 80% of business employees use their own devices for work
- the boom in mobility: 40% of employees work from outside the office at least once per day
- voice, video, instant messaging, document sharing: these integrated collaboration tools are emerging to meet specific business needs
The future workstation will be dematerialized, and users will switch between several uses at any given time: accessing work resources through business apps at various points throughout the day, then switching to personal uses, all from any mobile device.
PS: You can also read this blogpost in French here.
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