The only thing certain in business today is change. By taking a more fluid approach to thinking and operating, companies can effectively manage evolution and create a competitive advantage.

From talent shortages and trade wars to stagnant growth and the threat of global recession, businesses today are more volatile and uncertain than ever. To survive and thrive, companies need to abandon old-school thinking and embrace increasingly flexible models for operating that allow them to rapidly assemble the resources they need to address the biggest challenges of the moment and disassemble them just as quickly to make their business more agile and profitable.

Welcome to the Dynamic Enterprise

Throughout history, businesses have attempted to capitalize on advances in technology to drive changes in their performance. The first wave of productivity was driven by client-server technology and desktop applications that simplified routine tasks to make individual employees more productive and enable more efficient sharing of information among peers. Then came enterprise resource applications (ERP) that automated key financial and business processes and enabled collaboration across organizations.

The next wave of business innovation will come from cloud-based solutions that enable companies to seamlessly shift their people and digital resources across workflows by putting the right insights and information at employees’ fingertips to engage them — and ultimately, their customers — in new ways that enhance their successes.

A New Model for Work

Traditional models where work is organized around a hub, like a call center or office building, are dead. Work isn’t a place anymore, but an increasingly dynamic activity that people expect to be as adaptable as they are. The workforce is different too. For the first time in history, there are five different generations working together, with gig and contract workers accounting for a larger percentage of employees than ever.

All of this promises to drive new levels of freedom, productivity and innovation– but it also creates new challenges:

  • A Talent Crunch — In one of the tightest labor markets the world has ever seen, talent is increasingly hard to find. By 2020, McKinsey & Company estimates there will be a shortage of 95 million medium-to-high-skilled workers globally. And an IDC CIO survey found that the lack of experienced talent is holding many companies back from pursuing innovations.
  • An Expanded Attack Surface — Work today can happen anywhere, anytime on any device. Ultimately, this introduces new vulnerabilities and an expanded attack surface that companies must secure.

To successfully manage these challenges in the face of constant change, companies need to create digital environments that allow them to react immediately and scale their resources and operations up or down to accommodate their most critical needs without massive investments in infrastructure.

Winning the War on Talent

As the saying goes, “good people are hard to find.” While it may be scarce, there is talent out there. It just may not be near a traditional office. With digital workspaces, companies can go where the talent is, bringing people on board as needed to unlock innovation, engage customers, and move their business forward.

They can, for instance, dip into untapped pools of talent such as the “home force” and bring back parents who put their careers on hold to care for children or people who left to tend to aging relatives. Or set up Baby Boomers who retired to work five to 10 hours a week. They might even entice part-time, contract and gig workers to take on more hours.

They can provide personalized access to the systems, information and tools these employees need to be productive and perform at their best in a simple, unified way that keeps them engaged and happy:

  • By leveraging innovative technologies such as machine learning alongside simplified workflows, companies can organize work and deliver insights and task automation that enable employees to be more efficient and productive.
  • By using micro apps, companies can guide and automate, surfacing personalized and relevant tasks from existing systems and automatically delivering them to any device, intranet or collaboration tool along with contextual actions employees can take to complete work faster and make better decisions.

And it can all be done in an efficient way that provides:

  • Standardization and simplification through a single, centralized workspace that unites users and keeps business in sync.
  • Deployment efficiencies and cost control, as IT can more easily and cost-effectively stand up to provision servers, workgroups and new projects.
  • Greater resilience and enhanced security enabled by a flexible, digital perimeter that ensures every user is intrinsically secure.

Securing the Fort

According to a recent survey conducted by One Poll, 85 percent of 5,000 workers across the United States say they could do their job just as effectively from anywhere. There are clear benefits in enabling them to do so. Among those polled:

  • 69 percent say working remotely would enable them to be more productive and focused.
  • 83 percent think it would enable them to strike a healthier work-life balance.
  • 77 percent indicated they could save money by reducing commuting costs.

Work today simply must be flexible– but it also has to be secure. With the right digital workspace solution, companies can dynamically apply security policies based on a user’s behavior and environment, allowing them to work the way they want with the confidence that their applications, information and devices are safe. They can harness analytics to monitor, detect and deter threats to their business to ensure continuity.

Just as network-powered innovators like Square and Airbnb created new models that have transformed entire industries, digital workspaces are leveraging the automation, scale, and ubiquity of the cloud to power a better way to operate and work. Companies that tap into them can enable the agility, speed and efficiency required to manage resources in the new and dynamic way that today’s unpredictable business environment demands.

Don’t just keep pace with the change. Stay ahead of it to drive advantage.

Tim Minahan is the executive vice president, business strategy and chief marketing officer at Citrix, a leading provider of digital workspace solutions.

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