As IT reaches across business units to support remote work, there is more pressure to build the right technology business solutions to enable productivity.
Nobody was thinking about the issues that lie at the intersection of remote culture and collaboration a year ago, said Swamy Kocherlakota, EVP and CIO at S&P Global, during the Re-imagining Workplace Productivity: Fireside Chat with S&P Global and 451 Research on Monday. "The reason why I think it's a big opportunity for technologists [is] its innovation."
CIOs and other members of tech leadership face shifting responsibilities. They now manage tech solutions for empathy and human relationships as a part of the effort to digitize every part of a business. It falls on them to keep technology simple yet integrated to increase workflow efficiency.
While a majority of businesses believe a large portion of their employees can remote work effectively, they also see prolonged remote work as a challenge, according to survey results cited by Chris Marsh, principal research analyst for 451 Research's Workforce Productivity & Collaboration practice, during the event.
So, IT is stepping in to support a digital rebuild of workplace culture.
IT collaboration experiments pay off
Facing changes in consumer and workplace behavior, businesses were spurred to "rethink and reimagine how they support their workforces and how they support their customers," Marsh said.
Businesses are adopting new conferencing and collaboration tools. While fostering business continuity, the new tools "worsened the friction that people had for a long time felt across their work," said Marsh.
With all these tools and changes, what employees really want is simplicity.
"The growing number of tooling silos that employees are having to cope with and manage is right up there in terms of what drains day-to-day productivity," said Marsh.
If not fewer tools, more integration can help streamline the silos workers face to create more "operational agility" in the remote landscape.
"A lot of it is around what we call edge empowerment: giving more employees easier abilities to create workflows across their tools, to bridge some of those silos, to build new flexible project designs, to collaborate more effectively both sort of inside and outside their organization," Marsh said.
The change provides IT departments with the opportunity to bring technology to the forefront of the business.
"The question for the technology leadership is around, how can you provide flexibility without really introducing new complexity?" Kocherlakota said.
IT faces the challenge — and opportunity — to experiment with technology and strike the right balance for their business units. For example, Kocherlakota's team is trying a new way to digitize spontaneous workplace interactions: a virtual room that colleagues can pop into the same way they stopped by a coworker's desk with a quick question.
"Nobody was preparing for a technology suite like this so we're kind of inventing and playing on the fly and minimizing that friction," Kocherlakota said.