The rise of the smart workspace in India

Digital workspaces are the future. India, like so many nations around the world, is seeing its workforce change and evolve as we feel the ongoing impact of Generation Y or Millennials entering the labor force.

Today’s workers who have been born and raised in technology are comfortable with digital tools – they take “sharing” as a matter of course in their daily lives – and they have more expectations of their work/life balance than their parents did. They expect more flexibility and personal development in their jobs too. And they are also quickly becoming the largest demographic in the workforce and will make up almost three-quarters of the Asia Pacific workforce by 2030. And as research shows, we need them.

The productivity imperative

A recent report by PwC found that the APAC region is falling behind other global markets in terms of productivity, making the Millennial generation’s new skills and new approaches a well-timed boost. On top of this, the report also revealed that India’s own productivity is lower than that of Thailand and Indonesia in APAC, emphasizing the need for India to transform digitally and become more competitive.

Furthermore, digital has an impact on overall ability to compete. Digital technology has a big impact on productivity in a workplace and can help mitigate growing labor costs: the same PwC report found that just one additional point in digital connectivity creates a 2 percent increase in productivity and national competitiveness.

The new workforce’s demands

Today’s young workers expect an at-work experience similar to what they have in their personal lives, and Indian companies need to adjust to that way of thinking. It is a happy cycle of progress: the younger generation of workers push their employers to adopt new digital solutions, such as being able to work more efficiently from remote locations through the use of digital collaboration tools, and in turn that attitude drives greater agility within enterprises.

Digital’s impact is being felt throughout APAC now, with APAC ICT spending predicted to reach $780 billion by the end of 2018, growing 5 percent per year. The region’s governments are committing to it as well, and supporting digital expenditure – Gartner has forecasted that India’s IT spending will increase 8.9 percent in 2018 thanks to Digital India initiatives – and much of this increased spend will be invested in cloud infrastructure and smart workplace solutions. The next generation of workers demands it.

India adopting the digital workspace mentality

Indian enterprises that make the shift to digital workspace thinking reap the benefits across many areas of the organization – from improving worker loyalty and happiness in HR terms to improving data-driven decision-making in accounting and finance, for example.

Cloud and cloud-enabled software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps are already helping to drive this transformation forward, and we can expect other technologies to come to the fore in the digital workplace.

Some of the new digital solutions helping to transform the workplace in India are data analytics tools that can help with customer service and HR, AI-enabled robot process automation (RPA) and enterprise chatbots, Unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions that drive and encourage communication and ideas-sharing between teams, and fundamental enterprise mobility solutions like desktop virtualization.

The economic case

There is also a financial justification for shifting to the digital workspace: all that greater collaboration and increased productivity delivers a genuine return on investment (ROI). According to VMWare’s State of the Digital Workspace Report, the average ROI for digital workspace expenditures is 150 percent.

Building a smarter workplace

To make this transformation complete though requires Indian CEOs and CIOs to take the lead. At present, only 56 percent of CEOs in Asia rate their company’s “Digital IQ” as strong, despite the clear indicators that digital is the future and the route to success.

Organizational issues and workplace culture are essential items to address. Nobody wants to be responsible for infrastructure gaps that stop ambitious workers from maximizing their potential.

So smarter workplace solutions and tools are the way forward. And also understanding that different generations of workers want different workplace tools to make them productive and effective. With that in mind, Orange has partnered with Cisco to deliver Cisco Spark, an all-in-one solution that lets workers collaborate with colleagues, partners and even external suppliers, using instant messenger, shared screens, video conferencing and more. It enables mobility and is an omni-device tool. We are confident it will empower India’s next generation of workers in the ways that they demand.

You can build a smarter workplace in your organization. Download the PwC report, Shaping a smarter workplace, to find out how.
Bala Mahadevan
Bala Mahadevan is CEO, India, at Orange Business. His role incorporates leading Global Communications Solutions and Global Services in India, and he is responsible for designing and executing business strategy to drive business growth in India.
Bala holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India. He is an accomplished leader with a track record of key contributions in various leadership roles, encompassing business transformation, leading global businesses having multi-location, multi-faceted technology environments, setting up off-on shore development & support centers and more. His intense and varied experience in the IT services industry has cut across various service lines, verticals and local-global geographies for over 30 years.