#employee engagement#technology#data#mining#millennials

The Future Landscape of Technology: Australia’s Technological Landscape

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|Dec 28|magazine16 min read

Instead of looking back on the year in technology, we’re following the trend in the industry and commenting on the race towards the future of innovation. Citrix, the American multinational software company, published their annual technology landscape report commenting on the global technology sector from 2014 to five years down the road. We had the chance to talk to Martin Duursma, the CTO of Citrix, to get an inside look into the report and to find out what he thought the shape of Australia’s technological landscape would be in the coming years.

This year’s theme is Joie De Vivre. How would you say its two meanings (Joy of Life and Self-Actualisation) really sum up the trends for 2014-2015?

The quality of life in all aspects is significantly better than it was 100 years ago and with technology accelerating in computing, genomics and machine learning, it looks set to improve at an even greater rate into the future. We are getting to a point with technology whereby it is intuitive and easy to use; we no longer have “user manuals” for technology products and we can pick up any product and use it within seconds. This ‘state of being’ with technology supports both components of Joie De Vivre as we have technology at our fingertips, such as digital assistants and crowd-sourced intelligence, making day-to-day experiences seamless and more enjoyable.

You predict freelance and creativity are going to become more of a necessity in the future of business. How much is this move truly going to affect the traditional inner structure of business?

With labour markets changing, the inner structures of businesses will change as they look to take advantage of the emerging freelance economy. The term ‘purpose economy’ suggests new workers are interested in purpose and experiences, rather than chasing the dream, which is why greater passion delivers better outcomes than chasing the dollar. This is both a social change and a change in how businesses work.

The changes taking place, coupled with advancements in technology enabling us to work from anywhere and any device, mean businesses can match great work with great people, wherever they are in the world. The BYO culture of the workplace also means businesses can quickly deliver services to seamlessly and efficiently on-board new employees. Furthermore, as businesses embrace automation in the workplace, we will see a rise in jobs requiring something computers aren’t good at – creativity. Soon everyone may be creative workers out of necessity.

The report points out that data is going to continue to be an invaluable tool. What would you say to a company that isn’t utilising data, and what would you suggest their first step be in moving towards data-driven analytics?

If a company is not taking advantage of analytics then it is giving an unfair advantage to its competitors. After all, if a business can run experiments with customers faster than its competition, it can expect to see its product evolve faster. Data insight is a key skill of the modern corporation, a significant knowledge advantage for businesses, and crucial to driving informed business decisions. In moving towards data analytics, a company’s first step should be understanding how its products are used and involve the analysis of its current data stores with a view to using this information to produce timely business insights addressing sales, customer care and marketing. If a business fails to use the insight it has, it can’t tell if what it’s building is being used or if it is being used effectively. Effectively, if businesses don’t take advantage of the data at their fingertips, they’re building in the dark. 

What specific trend for businesses are you most excited for? Why?

One of the most exciting trends for businesses is the software defined workplace. That is, workplaces that are now defined by the software that drives them. From the Building Supervisor who is running his monitoring app on his smartphone, to the classic office worker who can now work from home due to video and collaboration tools, technology is completely redefining how we work. Work is no longer a place, but an activity we do from anywhere at any time.

What employee trend should employers capitalise on the most?

Employee engagement is a critical factor in today’s workforce and employers need to be providing an uplifting and continuous education environment for their employees. If they don’t, the talent will go elsewhere. This specifically relates to the millennial workforce that values experience over things; they want work to mean something.

To respond to this expectation, businesses should look to implement anytime and anywhere education through online classes. As an extension, businesses should look to capitalise on the new phenomenon of ‘Just-In-Time’ and ‘Targeted Learning’ whereby employees are given access to services that allow them to learn specific skills in just a few minutes.  At companies with mainly knowledge workers, the engagement levels are over 70% and as such, the goals of millennials will be more easily achieved in a knowledge-working environment. Learning what you need, when you need it is the new rule.

Passion fit for your workers is also essential, with people doing their best work when they’re doing things they are passionate about. For instance, the Google X group allows people to work on what they are passionate about even if leadership thinks it will go nowhere. They do this to overcome cognitive biases as more often than not, the sum of leadership biases kill great ideas before they get started. The bottom line here is tap into the passions of your staff.

Australia is the global leader in mining. Although the mining boom has subsided, what technological advice do you have for mining companies for the future?

When it comes to the mining industry, Australia has the opportunity to be a major force and exporter in the realm of automation. Mining companies should continue to invest in this area as it will drive efficiencies helping to maintain profits, even with a downturn in commodity prices.

Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are also a large part of the Australian economy. What specific advice do you have for decision makers at SMEs in regards to technology?

If an SME has any IT equipment on their location, they should be looking at how to quickly dispose of it. Instead of on-premise solutions, SMEs should focus on deploying technology solutions via cloud services as this allows them to access best of breed applications while removing the need for them to either employ IT staff or worse, have the owner of the business take on tasks that they’re not trained for. In the case of the latter, this leads to sub-optimal outcomes, and distracts from the most important thing of all - the running of the business.

Personally, what do you want to see technology accomplish in Australia? The world?

I am an optimist. I am a believer of universal information access serving as a great leveller and promoter of understanding. I fervently believe that low-cost internet access is now a basic human right, just like clean water and shelter. By providing all of humanity access to information, we will ultimately promote harmony and understanding.