Industry analysis from Konica Minolta: Agility and ability
This article was also featured as an industry analysis in the February 2016 issue of Briefing. To read the issue in full, download Briefing.
The future workplace is one with far fewer barriers – where the walls are literally coming down. The move to an empowered open-plan layout threatens the long-established authority of the manager’s corner office – and the trend toward hotdesking on the hop sees employees without a workspace (or pile of ‘important’ papers) they can even truly call their own.
But growing demand for flexible working patterns highlights that people don’t want to be a permanent presence in the office in any case. They want to share. So the office needs to be set up for them to do just that, whether it’s the hours they work, the desks they sit at or the knowledge in their heads.
“If resources are more flexible and people can expand or contract their working days, it’s clear that everyone working for the business needs one and the same access to the latest client information to deliver consistent service,” says David Cotterill, marketing director at Konica Minolta Business Solutions. “Retrieval of the right information at the right time, and in the most efficient way, is paramount.”
Signs of the times
But just as important is protecting data. As information infrastructure evolves – access controls loosen, for example – any increase in the availability of data must not be at the expense of its tight security.
“That’s one area where you definitely don’t want to dismantle traditional barriers,” explains Cotterill. “We might not have the same locked filing cabinets or sealed rooms, but we need to propagate those same standards in the domain of digital working.
“Currency and certainty are essential – and for both reasons it’s simply not acceptable to say that you can’t find something. So IT should help you to share efficiently and safely, regardless of the working pattern or practice.”
As less formal comms and collaboration grow more commonplace – instant messaging colleagues, or perhaps even clients, for example – Cotterill says an important aspect of the solution is effective digital signposting of where things are.
“A digital signpost can pull all the information related to a particular client together in a single location. That’s the case file and related documents, as well as all forms of contact.” This, he says, is the beating heart of enterprise content management (ECM).
However, there should also be digital signage for those turning up at the office to work with business data.
“People should find online directions about where to go, which desks and resources to use and whether meeting rooms are busy,” says Cotterill.
“As well as keeping track of people’s whereabouts, it’s easier to maximise utilisation of the organisation’s footprint. If there’s free resource – people haven’t turned up or have cancelled an appointment – you have the ability to re-book that space and use it cost effectively.”
Out with the old?
Of course, the process of digital refurbishment may still seem expensive. So as part of its managed content services – taking its ECM offering to market – Konica Minolta is in the process of helping firms to optimise investments in the office of old at the same time as they embrace the new.
“Photocopiers, printers and multi-functional devices can be configured to maximise input while transitioning to a more digital workplace,” explains Cotterill.
The multi-functional device, for example, provides value as a scanner as well as a printer.
“These assets don’t always need to be discarded for the apparent latest and greatest. They can be used more efficiently – and we’re busy demonstrating the barriers to overcome in managing such moves.
“Konica Minolta has been serving the office world – through the first printers and first image processing devices − for over 100 years. We can bring that long legacy to bear as businesses build the smarter, more flexible office environments they need to thrive in future.”