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New workforce, new strategy

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By CHARLES BARRATT, principal business solutions architect, EMEA EUC strategic accounts, VMware

Companies are increasingly more aware of how valuable their employees are, as digital disruption rips through all industries in today’s competitive market. Understanding how empowering your workforce can have a positive impact on business growth will be key to survival. In fact, according to Forbes, 78% say they are seeing more sales and revenue as a result of their digital empowerment efforts for employees.

So how can we create the ultimate workforce? The rule or power of three suggests that things that come in threes are funnier, more satisfying and/or more powerful. Take for example, the three little pigs in fairytales, the Holy Trinity or scoring a hat trick in football. What if we applied this concept to how we approach empowering our employees?

In a new report from IDC ‘Becoming “Future of Work” Ready: Follow the Leaders’, there are three pillars that underpin the foundation of digital success. These are culture, workspace and workforce. Only the organisations that adopt this business mantra and are agile enough to innovate against a challenging market landscape will disrupt and survive. The rest, those that cannot adapt to global changing working practices, will eventually wither.

Each pillar on its own will drive incremental change but only together will organisations truly achieve the desired impact of transforming the business to compete in the era of digital.

Culture

An organisation’s culture can often be its biggest asset – would Netflix have emerged as a poster child of digital disruption had it not turned the traditional view of corporate culture on its head by empowering employees and asking people to take on the responsibility of policing themselves?

But conversely, when unattended to, an organisation’s culture takes on a life of its own, often deviating further and further from its intended goal. Not only do unhealthy cultures demoralise employees; they alienate customers, ruin reputations, and destroy value.

Businesses that fail to create a culture of trust and openness, whereby employees have access to the right tools to be agile and productive, will result in a workforce with little to no motivation to change the way things are done, directed by a “command and control” approach to working life. By instilling a culture of fairness all the way from the board to front line staff, you’ll see a positive impact in turnover, output and employee satisfaction. In our own research, empowered employees are defined as those who are granted greater access to the applications they prefer and need to do their job, and are almost five times more likely to report gains in their productivity.

By empowering employees, companies will see a shift to businesses powered by employee initiative and management trust.

This rebalancing gives frontline employees the tools and the mindset freedom they need to innovate and execute. It’s a cultural change that ultimately becomes a decisive competitive differentiator.

Workspace

Work is increasingly seen as an activity rather than a location. The concept of a ‘9 to 5’ job is perhaps no longer the norm with employees not wanting to feel chained to their desks for seven hours a day. Instead, they want the flexibility of being able to work when and where they feel most productive.

In doing so, organisations need to recognise the power technology can have to transform their digital workspace – where ‘collaborative hubs’ emerge alongside flexible working policies in the corporate world, and voice-enabled apps and Artificial Intelligence-driven tools help workers collaborate wherever they may be.

However, with these innovations come increase security risks. As more traditional working hours and policies become obsolete, ‘borderless organisations’ start to emerge which can cause concern for IT security teams.

Past designs of security infrastructure are no longer relevant as new working environments result in back and forth data flows between multiple devices across the world. So, it’s no surprise that in IDC’s report, digital security is the #1 initiative businesses are looking at when considering their approach to a new working strategy. Securing the digital workspace requires security capabilities to be built in at every level – users, apps, endpoints and the network, which is all achievable through software.

Workforce

The final pillar that makes up the foundation of digital success is your workforce. The makeup and nature of the workforce are radically evolving. On the one hand, demographic shifts are impacting the size, age and diversity of the workforce; on the other hand, intelligent technologies are augmenting and automating work while creating new opportunities for value creation within organisations.

Intelligent technologies will provide new levels of productivity, accuracy and business intelligence. This allows employees to learn and improve from mistakes – where the workforce has the ability to fail, recover, and try again – a key component of successful organisations.

Creating a truly effective digital workspace requires a relentless focus on employee experience that ensures greater freedom of choice.

Putting the three pillars into practice

Bringing together these three pillars into the foundation of your business will give you the platform architecture, management and security capabilities, and experience-centric approach that are needed for the new world of work.

Changing working practices, and the strategy required to do that is not a simple process. It requires time and investment and there will be hurdles and setbacks along the way. Businesses who persevere with this approach will reap the rewards of a more user-centric experience across its customers, employees and business.

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Tech promotes connections across groups in emerging markets

Digital technology users say they more regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds

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Smartphone users – especially those who use social media – say they are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds. They are also more connected with friends they don’t see in person, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds.

South Africa, included in the study, has among the most consistent levels of connection across age groups and education levels and in terms of cross-cultural connections. This suggests both that smartphones have had a greater democratisation impact in South Africa, but also that the country is more geared to diversity than most others. Of 11 countries surveyed, it has the second-lowest spread between those using smartphones and those not using them in terms of exposure to other religious groups.

Across every country surveyed, those who use smartphones are more likely than those who use less sophisticated phones or no phones at all to regularly interact with people from different religious groups. In most countries, people with smartphones also tend to be more likely to interact regularly with people from different political parties, income levels and racial or ethnic backgrounds. 

The Center’s new report is the third in a series exploring digital connectivity among populations in emerging economies based on nationally representative surveys of adults in Colombia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Earlier reports examined attitudes toward misinformation and mobile technology’s social impact

The survey finds that smartphone and social media use are intertwined: A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media or messaging apps, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone. And, as with smartphone users, social media and messaging app users stand apart from non-users in how often they interact with people who are different from them. For example, 52% of Mexican social media users say they regularly interact with people of a different income level, compared with 28% of non-users. 

These results do not show with certainty that smartphones or social media are the cause of people feeling like they have more diverse networks. For example, those who have resources to buy and maintain a smartphone are likely to differ in many key ways from those who don’t, and it could be that some combination of those differences drives this phenomenon. Still, statistical modelling indicates that smartphone and social media use are independent predictors of greater social network diversity when other factors such as age, education and sex are held constant. 

Other key findings in the report include: 

  • Mobile phones and social media are broadening people’s social networks. More than half in most countries say they see in person only about half or fewer of the people they call or text. Mobile phones are also allowing many to stay in touch with people who live far away: A median of 93% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their phones have mostly helped them keep in touch with those who are far-flung. When it comes to social media, large shares report relationships with “friends” online who are distinct from those they see in person. A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person. 
  • Social activities and information seeking on subjects like health and education top the list of mobile activities. The survey asked mobile phone users about 10 different activities they might do on their mobile phones – activities that are social, information-seeking or commercial in nature. Among the most commonly reported activities are casual, social activities. For example, a median of 82% of mobile phone users in the 11 countries surveyed say they used their phone over the past year to send text messages and a median of 69% of users say they took pictures or videos. Many mobile phone users are also using their phones to find new information. For example, a median of 61% of mobile phone users say they used their phones over the past year to look up information about health and medicine for themselves or their families. This is more than the proportion that reports using their phones to get news and information about politics (median of 47%) or to look up information about government services (37%). Additionally, around half or more of mobile phone users in nearly all countries report having used their phones over the past 12 months to learn something important for work or school. 
  • Digital divides emerge in the new mobile-social environment. People with smartphones and social media – as well as younger people, those with higher levels of education, and men – are in some ways reaping more benefits than others, potentially contributing to digital divides. 
    • People with smartphones are much more likely to engage in activities on their phones than people with less sophisticated devices – even if the activity itself is quite simple. For example, people with smartphones are more likely than those with feature or basic phones to send text messages in each of the 11 countries surveyed, even though the activity is technically feasible from all mobile phones. Those who have smartphones are also much more likely to look up information for their households, including about health and government services. 
    •  There are also major differences in mobile usage by age and education level in how their devices are – or are not – broadening their horizons. Younger people are more likely to use their phones for nearly all activities asked about, whether those activities are social, information-seeking or commercial. Phone users with higher levels of education are also more likely to do most activities on their phones and to interact with those who are different from them regularly than those with lower levels of education. 
    •  Gender, too, plays a role in what people do with their devices and how they are exposed to different people and information. Men are more likely than women to say they encounter people who are different from them, whether in terms of race, politics, religion or income. And men tend to be more likely to look up information about government services and to obtain political news and information. 

These findings are drawn from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report. 

Read the full report at https://www.pewinternet.org/2019/08/22/in-emerging-economies-smartphone-and-social-media-users-have-broader-social-networks.

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Nokia to be first with Android 10

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Nokia is likely to be the first smartphone brand to roll out Android 10, after its manufacturer, HMD Global, announced that the Android 10 software upgrade would start in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Previously named Android Q, it was given the number after Google announced it was ditching sweet and dessert names due to confusion in different languages. Android 10 is due for release at the end of the year.

Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global said: “With a proven track record in delivering software updates fast, Nokia smartphones were the first whole portfolio to benefit from a 2-letter upgrade from Android Nougat to Android Oreo and then Android Pie. We were the fastest manufacturer to upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie across the range. 

“With today’s roll out plan we look set to do it even faster for Android Pie to Android 10 upgrades. We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio.”

HMD Global has given a guarantee that Nokia smartphone owners benefit from two years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.

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