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The Inextricable Link Between Cloud Technology And The New, Untethered Workforce

Cloud computing has changed more than just how applications are bought, where they run and how data is stored.

It has changed the interaction between customers, code and business outcomes. More importantly for business information technology executives, it creates opportunities to lead initiatives well beyond the traditional IT stack — into areas ranging from e-learning to customer service. And instead of simply being a more efficient way of doing work, it’s giving IT leaders the ability to reshape work for the better.

No wonder a Harvard Business Review story hails the cloud as “the most impactful information technology of our time.”

Business leaders are turning to enterprise cloud technology because the nature of work itself is changing. It can no longer be defined as a single place in a fixed office, and a job description is more of fuzzy guideline than an out-and-out rule. As a result, work is stifled when it’s bounded by a predictable, cookie-cutter stack of devices and software.

According to the 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, employees at 91 percent of organizations work outside their designated functional areas. Thirty-five percent do so regularly. The old model of static software installations on fixed computers doesn’t flex or scale to these demands.

To keep track of who’s doing what and how, companies are dramatically increasing reliance on cloud collaboration and social media interaction for work communication. In the Deloitte report, 70 percent of organizations say they will expand their use of online collaboration platforms, and 67 percent will make more use of work-based social media. To free up time, they’ll curtail phone calls (seen decreasing by 30 percent of businesses) and face-to-face meetings (projected to decline by 44 percent of respondents).

The earlier waves of enterprise cloud tech focused on transforming a functional area or customer-facing process into a browser tab. That was valuable, but a screen full of browser tabs is little different than a desktop full of application icons. And the growth in these solutions created provisioning headaches, security challenges and regulatory risks. It was difficult to ensure consistent, centrally controlled permissions that gave employees the right amount of access at the right times, and to track the way sensitive information was used in a consistent manner.

That’s why IT leaders are looking for digital workspaces, not just isolated cloud apps. The digital workspace provides employees with a seamless and consistent experience on their choice of screens. It’s backed by centralized management controls that keep services correctly provisioned, and work apps properly updated and secured across mobile, cloud and SaaS platforms. And it’s going to sweep into the enterprise as a new wave of IT decision-makers takes the reins.

Why The Cloud Wins The Workplace

According to 451 Research data, only 46 percent of IT workloads are still operating in conventional IT infrastructure, and that figure is projected to fall to just 21 percent in 2020. It will be easy for the emerging generation of executives to get rid of legacy IT infrastructure. They came of age when they could count on key technologies enabled by the cloud.

An elder Millennial born in the early 1980s was barely in high school when operating systems started to ship with what we would recognize today as internet-ready networking. The first consumer-grade Wi-Fi routers were on the market when they went off to college. By time they got their first apartments, Wi-Fi and broadband were cheap and plentiful. Their younger Millennial peers, and the new generation of incoming workers behind them, are part of the smartphone generations that have only known an always-on, completely untethered world of data on demand.

People have long discussed making enterprise tech more closely resemble the consumer app experience, but little is done about it. Columnist Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry described this as “the strange paradox whereby the software you use at home gets better and more user friendly every day, while the software you use for work still looks like something from 1997.”

But the young wave of cord-cutting, always-on IT decision-makers are going to change that. They think of computing power the same way they think about work: It’s dynamic, untethered and not fixed to a specific beige box on a specific office desktop.

Tomorrow’s business leaders will push to provide digital workspaces that meet the needs of a competitive enterprise, which has long been the case.

But these emerging workspaces will also match the way employees think and want to work, which is revolutionary. The new worker demands friction-free computing and an experience that is consistent and secure across apps and devices.

These priorities create a tipping point that affects how we work and what we do every day. – Forbes

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