Business and the workforce in an app driven world

One of the things we know about the future is the workplace will be very different. Just as the Personal Computer changed offices in the 1990s, the smartphone and tablet computer are changing today’s.

Part of that change though is being driven by the change in generations. While this blog tries to avoid falling into the trap of generalising about different age cohorts – and contends the entire concept of baby boomers as an economic group is flawed – there are undoubtedly differences between the world of the PC generation of workers and that of the new mobile breed.

The key difference is the idea that work devices are different to those at home. Those of us bought up with the idea that the office computers would be tightly locked workstations – in the 1990s we also had the quaint idea corporate desktops were generally more powerful than what we had at home – are now seeing that way of working being abandoned.

For the next generation of office workers, accessing corporate resources through an app connected to a cloud service will be as normal as opening Windows NT to access the shared corporate drive was 15 years ago.

Along with the technology and generational change driving businesses into the cloud-app computing world there’s also the needs of a much more fluid and mobile workforce. The shift to casualisation began well before PCs arrived on desktops but the process is accelerating as we see crowdsourcing and the ‘uberization’ of industries.

Older workers will adapt as well, many came through the evolution of business computing from ‘green screen’ displays – if their businesses had any at all – through to the server based systems of recent years. For them the shift to smartphones might be troublesome for those with fading eyesight, but it won’t be the first change.

For businesses this shift means they have to start planning for the mobile services that will change workforces and industries. The shift is already well underway – accounting software company Intuit estimates small businesses already use an average of 18 apps to run their business.

We all have to start thinking about how these apps can be used to manage our staff and workforces.