Updating My Research Agenda

2014-07-09 13.50.19As I mentioned in a previous post I work in end-user computing, mostly focussed on strategy.  I’ve worked in all aspects of end-user over the years, but my research areas have always focussed on how to make people, places and teams more effective and happier at work.  From a technical perspective this means that I’m interested in productivity, personal computing in all its many form factors, collaboration and all the associated cloud computing services.  Over time the specific research areas change and this post updates my previous posts on this topic.  I’m expanding my research to include the whole service lifecycle but focussing in more on business development.  It makes for a nice change and a new set of challenges.  The big change from a technical perspective is the increasing acceptance of OSX into the enterprise in the last year, so that gets a bit more focus.  The other areas on the rise include the mobile personal computing in all it’s forms, the connected car and a return to interest in optimising physical workplaces, spurred on by the leading IT companies and financial services seeking to attract and retain the very best employees.

There are some big changes coming though and I’m keen to dig into these this year, while most of the buzz in the industry concerns cloud services, big data, mobility and security but these are either over-researched already or are not that relevant to the end user space.  These are the areas that I’m more interested in:

  1. The structural changes that are coming to work as a result of smart ‘machines’ and continued off-shoring, that will significantly impact the average knowledge worker and since knowledge workers represent 70% of jobs in the developed world this is going to be BIG
  2. Changes to the way that enterprises source the work they need to get done, reducing their permanent staff levels significantly and instead leveraging specialist service providers, innovation and service market places, business process out-sourcing and the like.  This move to more work being done external to the enterprise will further accelerate the adoption of web applications, remote desktops and applications and public cloud services
  3. End users are already sourcing many of their end-user productivity and collaboration services from the public cloud, soon the enterprises will follow, leaving existing enterprise service providers scrambling for new ways to add value.  These public cloud providers have matured a lot by providing low or no cost services to consumers and SMEs, they are now after the big money from larger enterprises and are rapidly adding the security, compliance and policy controls that enterprises demand
  4. The productivity arms race is starting in earnest. Knowledge workers and the high performance teams they are part of will need to find the processes and tools to compete or die 
  5. The very best knowledge workers will dramatically outstrip the average as they use the best IT tools in the market and the best operating models to innovate and then orchestrate a network of equally productive specialists to help them deliver.  This pressure to perform or die will drive a new focus on personal and team productivity processes and technologies.  The decade long focus on ‘cost reduction’ will be replaced by a drive to ‘improve productivity’ and knowledge workers will demand this from their employers, or they will do it themselves, through Bring Your Own Everything approaches in order to keep their jobs
  6. With a rising interest in productivity enterprises will be looking for insights into their users experience and productivity blockers, this will lead to new interest in usage, reliability, performance and user experience monitoring.  The economies of scale provided by the cloud are rendering direct IT costs almost trivial when compared to the business value that they enable, so insights into benefits delivery (successes and failures) will increase
  7. The consumerization of the workplace will complement consumerization of apps and devices. In the same way that consumers became dissatisfied with their enterprise IT they will soon start to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the terrible offices they are forced to work in.  High performance employees will either invest in their own high tech, collaboration optimised home offices, start to embrace co-working spaces or drive their employees to re-invent the office to serve their needs, rather than than the needs of their facility managers

Phew, that’s a lot of new stuff to track, I think the direction is clear, but the pace is highly variable.  As I mentioned earlier I have a new job with more focus on business development and so there are a few new research areas associated with that:

  1. What customers want, digging into how they think about their needs, how customers needs and users needs might differ, how customers need to change in this mobile/cloud first world
  2. Making the complex sale, how to respond to complex requests with standard services, how to migrate customers to standard services, how to match customers complex needs to our services
  3. How analysts think about the service lifecycle, how do we demonstrate our ability to execute and completeness of vision so we can communicate to them optimally
  4. What the largest technology companies in the world are doing, especially in terms of cloud infrastructure and software

With these big ticket areas addressed, I will now list the business as usual research topics that I need to keep ticking over. 

Research About People

  1. Happiness at work
  2. Personal knowledge management and productivity
  3. Enterprise knowledge management, communication and collaboration
  4. Work life balance, especially as it applies to different generations and people with chronic health conditions (like me)
  5. The negative correlation between ever increasing hours worked and effectiveness at work (and home)
  6. The research currently going on promoting reduced working weeks for business, social, sustainability, equality and personal reasons
  7. Consumerization and the trend towards employee self sufficiency
  8. How leading edge companies motivate, retain and enable their employees
  9. Mavericks at work (like me) and how to manage them, or not
  10. Innovation at work, particularly how innovation is enhanced by relaxation, meditation, working out of doors, walking meetings
  11. The changing nature of work and especially the evolution of knowledge work, automation and the rise of smart machines

Research About Places

  1. I’ve laid out in some detail a series of blog posts that I intend to write on this topic in my blog post Reinventing the Modern Workplace but here is a summary
  2. Workplace design and the evolution of the work place
  3. How workplaces needs to be designed flexibly so they can respond to changing needs
  4. How workplaces need to be zoned to accommodate different types of work
  5. The impact of poor workplace design on productivity, team working, virtual team working, innovation and retention
  6. How leading edge companies use workplace design to attract, motivate, retain and enable their employees
  7. Innovation at work, particularly how innovation is enhanced by workplace design, working out of doors, walking meetings
  8. New workplaces, homes, co-working spaces, cafe working, walking meetings

Research About Teams

  1. The process of collaboration: co-development, communication, co-ordination, contextual, commitment, co-decision, and connecting
  2. Collaborative authoring, review and discovery
  3. Search
  4. Social and professional networking, expert location
  5. Designing physical and virtual workplaces for team working
  6. How leading edge companies motivate, retain and enable their employees
  7. Innovation at work, particularly how teams can enhance but also impede innovation
  8. Project and programme management
  9. High performance teams and how to create and enable them
  10. The changing nature of work especially the rise of independent specialist high performance teams/small businesses and the market places where they sell their services into enterprises

General Enterprise IT Research

  1. The service lifecycle from product strategy, development development, solution/sales, discovery and assessment, readiness and remediation, implementation, migration, operations, support, benefits delivery, evolution and evergreen
  2. How to segment an enterprise’s needs into work types, collaboration types, mobility types, place types, cost focussed areas, value focussed areas …
  3. Personal computing devices, all form factors and operating systems, including application and desktop virtualisation
  4. Intelligent buildings and transport
  5. The provisioning and management and support of devices and applications
  6. Collaborative computing devices, applications and services, supporting All the dimensions of collaboration: co-development, communication, co-ordination, contextual, commitment, co-decision, and contact
  7. End-user computing as a platform for layered applications
  8. Management of application services
  9. User support, self help, self service and self heal
  10. Cloud infrastructure, security and automation
  11. The evolution of software development processes and tools
  12. The totality of the end user experience, rather than vertical optimisation of individual processes/services/lifecycle phases
  13. OSX in the enterprise
  14. Direct Cost Of ownership, Total Cost of Ownership and Total Value of Ownership modelling and business case development, especially as it relates to the all of the above

Keeping track of all of this through, scanning, reading, sense making, curating and communicating takes up a lot of my time, much of this time spent in cafes, walking and cycling, and that’s how it went today.

I took the photo above in Kendal after a long hike in the hills looking down on the eastern shore of Windermere listening to the excellent audiobook The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz.  I captured the core themes of this post using the voice recorder on my iPhone as I walked and then sketched out the content on my laptop in Caffe Nero Kendal, shoes off, ice cold coke in hand and eating cake!

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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