Orange Business Services and the consultancy Sia Partners have released a position paper which explores how the digital phenomenon fundamentally changes ways of working by impacting employees, as well as how companies interact with their clients and partners, thereby creating new opportunities.

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This position paper is based on a Europe-wide study – conducted in conjunction with Sia Partners and Harris Interactive – including more than 1,800 interviews with company CEOs, IT managers, business owners and Human Resources managers across five European countries.

New ways of working to improve customer relationships:
The digital phenomenon has an effect on the expectations of individuals today who want more connectivity, personalisation and interaction in their relationships with companies. The research indicates that 83% of European companies acknowledge that better customer service is a driver of new ways of working. The position paper highlights the experience of BNP Paribas Wealth Management, which provided tablets to its increasingly mobile sales forces in Asia to manage the relationships with their customers.

Home working diversifies with the emergence of ‘third place working’:
Flexible working is not only a means to improve quality of life of employees, but also a lever for productivity and real estate optimisation for companies. The study reveals that flexible working is formalised by a legal framework in 54% of European companies, which have established a home working policy. In addition to home working and office working, distance work is taking on new forms in various locations – from public to enterprise-provided – to accommodate employees. These new spaces are known as ‘third places to work’.

Collaborative work: the enterprise opens its ecosystem:
Through co-creation, co-working and co-innovation, collaboration is a real evolution in ways of working that is made possible thanks to the digital transformation. Companies extend their collaboration to an increasingly wide network of suppliers, clients and partners. ‘Corpoworking’ is a new trend that consists of welcoming members of this ecosystem in a dedicated location. This is the case with SNCF, which has specific workspaces – and access to the company’s Wi-Fi – in its new headquarters to accommodate partners and clients. In addition to shared spaces, 74% of European companies consider collaboration with external partners a ‘must-have’ or ‘nice-to-have’ practice.

Security – a major requirement for companies:
The introduction of new ways of working calls for a transformation of the company’s IT infrastructure and raises questions about security and the protection of resources. Of companies in the study, 65% confirm that security will have an impact on their ways of working over the next three years. In 2013, 62% of European companies had set up a secure mobile solution, and 10% more planned to deploy one before the end of 2014.

IT projects increasingly influenced by business departments:
While IT managers are still responsible for the choice of digital equipment and solutions in 97% of European companies today, the position paper shows the increasing influence of business owners (i.e., director or manager of business units, production, facilities, marketing or sales) in the decision-making process. More than one third (36%) of European companies believe that business owners’ level of involvement in decision making will increase in the next three years. Human resources (HR) executives also play a major role. In 59% of companies, HR is involved in the decision-making process for the working environment.

In 2014, 44% of European companies plan to implement at least one new tool or service to develop new ways of working. For example, their priority projects cited for the short term involve deploying cloud services, tablets and applications. Orange Business Services and Sia Partners’ ambition is to accompany enterprises in their digital transformation.
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