It’s time for businesses to get on the front foot with their COVID-19 response

Blog Contributed by: Chris Marsh, Research Director, Workforce Productivity

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented disruption to the economy and to people's livelihoods. It seems reasonable to assume that even after quarantine's end, there will likely be prolonged economic disruption. For many businesses, this will mean knock-on effects on budgets, expansion plans and strategic initiatives. New competitive dynamics are already emerging in many industries as well.

It will also mean that businesses must address the broad range of negatively compounding impacts that have occurred across the workforce, from employee reductions and furloughs to impaired engagement and productivity, and a rise in anxiety and issues with morale.
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Webinar - The Future of Work: The Liquid Enterprise, WorkOps and Workforce Intelligence

The Future of Work: The Liquid Enterprise, WorkOps and Workforce Intelligence webinar will be held October 30, 2018, at 12:00 pm ET. After that date, the recording will be available below.

The nature of work is being entirely transformed by innovative new technologies. Catalyzed by businesses looking for greater strategic and operational agility and by the techno-empowerment of individuals, ownership over work execution is decentralizing away from IT and other centralized teams of specialists. This shift requires new understanding and new language.

At 451 Research, we use the term ‘liquid enterprise’ to describe the massive responsiveness to changing market, customer and user requirements that the most innovative enterprises are looking to give affect to. ‘WorkOps’ describes how the nature of work is changing to make this possible – with intelligence, workflow automation, collaboration and reporting embedded and flexibly tessellating across the work execution lifecycle. WorkOps is opening up new possibilities for collective and connected yet highly personalized experiences that will supercharge work execution and drive employee engagement. It’s also giving rise to what we believe is a new enterprise software archetype we call the Workforce Intelligence Platform.

This radically different future for work is significant enough for us to have to rethink the archetypes we use to understand and describe work.

In this webinar, 451 Research analysts Chris Marsh, Raul Castanon-Martinez and Rosanna Jimenez will help you understand how to plan for the future for work that is unfurling:

  • What does the future of work look like?
  • What are the technology trends underpinning how work is changing?
  • How should you be thinking about employee engagement?
  • How do you leverage AI to improve work execution?
  • How can you become ‘liquid’ and put in place for WorkOps practices?
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Future of Productivity Software Part 3: Vendors Need to Message to the New Work Archetypes

Blog post contributed by Chris Marsh, Research Director - Workforce Productivity & Compliance

The trends we have highlighted so far in part 1 and part 2 of this blog series, represent a fundamental change in the anatomy of work driven by the need to have those closest to the execution of work responsible for designing, overseeing and executing it, as found in the Technology & Business Insight (TBI) report “The Future of Productivity Software.” This macro shift and allied trends are subverting most of the archetype value propositions of existing products, vendors and segments, almost all of which have historically focused on satisfying specific functional capabilities or discrete roles and personas.

The functional underpinnings of the old work archetypes – managing work, collaborating, accessing, reporting it – are becoming less valuable. Vendors consequently need to message around new ones growing form WorkOps. Heavily informed by automation and intelligence, product messaging will need to reflect what users and businesses will be freed up to do because of what the product is enabling. Technology will abstract, automate and predict, while people will question, co-create and model. Using content management as an example – messaging will need to shift from how you manage content including residency, governance and security to the direct benefits from surfacing content automatically into work at the right time to satisfy a specific business goal. The shift from old to new archetypes will also be seen in more contextual access and management of work, less linear creation processes, more purposeful collaboration, decentralized integration and more real and right-time reporting to support highly responsive decision-making.

In the TBI report, we:
  • Give a full re-conceptualization of the shift from old to new work archetypes.
  • Illustrate for each tooling segment which archetypes they currently satisfy.
  • Describe how the economies of functional scale allows the WIP to satisfy more archetypes.
The productivity software category has been a stale remnant of the PC-era vendor oligopolies and the resulting organizational behaviors. This category is approaching a tipping point, however, as vendors look for inspiration across other segments and from new disruptive technologies that are shaping enterprise software. These changes require new language to describe work and the relationship among the workforce, tools and business outcomes. New functional archetypes are emerging that allow grander thematic narratives to be used to describe how this category is becoming increasingly consequential as the seed bed for the transformative new working styles, processes and interactions that will underpin the emergence of digital native businesses. Vendors misunderstand these tides at their peril. Those understanding the shifts stand to benefit from the recalibration of the entire category.

Learn more about the Future of Productivity Software.
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Future of Productivity Software Part 2: The Future of Work is WorkOps

Blog post contributed by Chris Marsh, Research Director - Workforce Productivity & Compliance

In the first blog in this three-part series, we pointed to how in the report we question the ‘best of breed will win’ narrative and illustrated that the white space within the category opens the door for a new software archetype – ‘Workforce Intelligence Platform’ (WIP). In part 2, we will describe the new ‘WorkOps’ behaviors the WIP will underpin as reported in our Technology & Business Insight (TBI) report The Future of Productivity Software: New Work Archetypes, WorkOps and the Workforce Intelligence Platform.

Few doubt that the nature of work is being transformed by innovative new technologies, yet there isn’t the right way to describe this future for work. Enterprises struggle to conceive of it and vendors struggle to succinctly describe what they are enabling. At 451 Research, we use the term ‘WorkOps’ to help describe this future. In an obvious parallel with DevOps, WorkOps aims to unify business goals, work design and its execution – by having intelligence, workflow automation, collaboration and reporting flexibly tesselate across the lifecycle for more rapid and responsive work execution. WorkOps manifests in the local agility of the team or “TeamOps” which is fueled by “SoloOps” or the individual members of the workforces’ productivity gained from the emergent capabilities at their disposal.

Several trends we outline more fully in the TBI report underpin the emergence of WorkOps, TeamOps and SoloOps. Application estates will grow, but more work will execute across these apps relative to what is within apps. Improved search, intelligence, automation and connectivity bolster that transversal work. As a result, collaboration becomes more purposeful and the real-time modeling of work is more achievable. Highly flexible resource management allows work to pass out of formal reporting hierarchies into looser forms of self-organization.

We describe how WorkOps is conceived less formally than project management but is more open to change and adaptation as it tools the decentralization of work into teams where everyone essentially becomes a ‘project manager.’ WorkOps is an agile and lean method yet with a broader focus across the spectrum of work scenarios. In the Future of Productivity TBI report, we also provide:
  • A ‘hierarchy of employee motivation’ and ‘four pillars of employee engagement’ which describes how technology needs to support SoloOps and TeamOps towards executing improved business outcomes.
  • A cross plot illustration of how WorkOps relates to other work styles.
  • A graphical representation of what we mean by ‘the liquid enterprise,' the basis for enterprises’ future digital competitiveness.
In the final blog in this series, we will focus on how, with these changes, the common product value archetypes – such as managing work, collaborating around it, accessing applications, creating assets, reporting on work – are becoming less coherent as ways to explain modern work. The new emerging archetypes require vendors to design a message around them.
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Future of Productivity Software Part 1: The Tortoise and the Hare

Blog post contributed by Chris Marsh, Research Director - Workforce Productivity & Compliance

As the tale goes, the hare races off leaving the tortoise in its tracks, only to slow down and allow the tortoise to triumph. The fable reminds me of the productivity software category. Growing innovation across collaboration, content and work management, workspaces, in assert creation tools and other segments has made a once dull category exciting again. It has heralded new rising stars to become the new incumbents, and some have even pushed the ‘best of breed will determine the future of IT’ narrative as part of the excitement. The narrative typically states that a few winners across the product categories emerge and play nicely with each other to serve future enterprise needs. We think this is premature:

  • With enterprises scrambling to give effect to their digital transformations, the term ‘best of breed’ has in fact been the path of least resistance – a better way to doing something everyone already understands. In this instance, a better way to manage content collaborate or provide access to applications.
  • The opportunity to disrupt within their segment to drive market share has downplayed the need to disrupt beyond their segment to position for the future of work that will look very different from the way it does now.
  • These vendors risk being the hare in the fable by not understanding the tortoise. The “tortoise” isn’t the legacy players, but rather is the vendors tooling the proverbial category “white space” that best of breed vendors have left wide open.
Existing product segments largely reflect the symbiosis of legacy tools, ways of organizing and existing buyers and buying rationales that must now be recast due to the imperative need to digitally transform. Productivity software will, as a result, have more opportunities to evolve from intersections across the category, segments catalyzed by new technologies such as AI and machine learning, than it will from innovations within each alone. Significant white space is defined by bringing together the reach across the spectrum of work scenarios with the ability to manage them with sophistication, whereas most tooling has historically traded off one for the other. We at 451 Research believe this white space will be inhabited by a new archetype software we term the ‘Workforce Intelligence Platform’ (WIP).

Catalyzed by intelligence, hybrid integration, decentralized workflow automation and likely the growing attention from the mega caps the WIP will have a strong gravitational pull on the entire category. This doesn’t have to imply the pendulum swings to all-in-one solutions, the way we currently conceptualize the WIP entertains several enablers of what we term transversal WorkOps, the subject of the second blog in this series. The inference is, though, that where we are now – legacy vendors disrupted by better alternatives within the same segment – just marks the beginning of even more innovation yet to come.

In the “The Future of Productivity Software” Technology & Business Insight (TBI) report, we:

  • Highlight the chronic challenges enterprises face with their workforce productivity, which the SaaS and best of breed explosion hasn’t done much to alleviate.
  • Provide a schema showing value across the tooling pyramid is inverting.
  • Propose a technical architecture for the WIP, map the positions of each productivity software segment relative to the white space it inhabits and outline in detail the directional travel of each towards or away from that space.
We will continue to discuss the future of productivity software and the corresponding TBI report in a three-part series. In the next blog, we will outline what we call “new WorkOps behaviors” that will support the emergence of what we term the ‘liquid enterprise’ – new digital native businesses, that will define future business competitiveness.
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