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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