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Reaping the Benefits from Next-Generation Workspaces

Are businesses truly prepared to adopt the most productive practices of high-performance ICT enabled work environments? In search of answers, Cisco commissioned independent research among IT decision makers in enterprise and SME organizations across the UK and Ireland -- to better understand how businesses are responding to macro trends in the marketplace.

Next-generation workspaces will be a reality for 76 percent of businesses by 2016, according to the latest market study by Cisco Systems. Their study found that while IT decision makers are primarily focused on reducing IT complexity and balancing investment against cost-cutting, they still must tackle the more forward-looking core IT challenges.

In particular, now they need to support investing in new technologies which enable new distributed working environments and thereby create these next-generation workspaces.

CIOs face a myriad of trends which challenge and test current IT infrastructure and communication networks. Bring-your-own-device (BYOD), cloud computing and big data trends motivate end users to become increasingly more demanding with the ICT-enabled experiences they expect to have while at work.

The typical IT department is under pressure to carefully manage these growing trends, but there remains the need to balance investment against cost-cutting.

Ian Foddering, CTO Cisco UKI, comments on the TechWatch 2013 report, "In 2013 we can expect to see IT get back to basics. The macro challenges which IT decision makers face are clear and well defined, but what TechWatch shows us is how IT intends to meet these challenges. The research shows us that whilst cost-cutting and reducing complexity is important, creating an environment where IT can support – or indeed drive – innovation within the business is paramount."

He added, "The IT department is more crucial now to future development than ever before. Three key pillars emerge: Simplify, Protect and Change & Grow. Get the first two right, and you pave the way for innovation, greater connectivity, next-generation workspaces and ultimately a shift towards the Internet of Everything."

Other key findings from the TechWatch report include:
  • Network performance (51%) and increased security threats (48% enterprises, 44% SMEs) are the most significant challenges facing businesses over the next 12 months.
  • After reducing overall IT costs (60% enterprises, 56% SMEs), improving IT security (60%, 55%) and maintaining or improving IT infrastructure (56%) are the main priorities over the coming 12 months.
  • Within the next three years, 76% of companies think operations in their organization will be structured on the basis of the most efficient use of skills and resources, regardless of where they are located – 15% (1 in 7) say this is already happening.
  • This is reflected in terms of technology investment: enterprises are more likely to have deployed collaborative software (79%) and network performance management (78%), but both enterprises and SMEs have prioritized the investment of remote access technology (78% and 77% respectively).
  • Organizations are likely to have reviewed, or are planning to review, operational simplicity (89%) and operational savings (87%).

Cisco believes that there is overwhelming support for greater remote working, and it is encouraging that most businesses are taking measures to protect important information and help maximize data security.

However, simplifying and protecting an organization's infrastructure is not enough to thrive in the Global Networked Economy. Savvy executive leaders must prepare themselves for the future. Moreover, they must be willing to embrace change and use it to drive, rather than inhibit, forward-thinking progress.