As workplaces continue to rapidly transform for a digital age, here are the key trends to watch in 2022
In 2022, Konica Minolta predicts that the rapid pace of digital transformation spurred by the pandemic will continue with digital workplaces become a standard.
Working in hybrid team set-ups with part of the workforce joining remotely while others are present offices will be critical in providing an attractive workplace. Organisations will therefore need to enable remote work and also redesign offices. This more flexible workforce will require effective communication and collaboration tools, with cloud- and “as-a-Service” solutions helping to make this dynamic hybrid team workspace possible. At the same time, organisations will be under pressure to protect themselves against increasingly professionalised security threats. Significant social requirements will also have an impact on the workplace: While in the past sustainability in IT was a positive differentiator for companies pursuing sustainable agendas, climate-neutral workplaces are increasingly becoming the default – and sustainable solutions will now be a ‘license to operate’. Yet, at the same time, another development is helping organisations to succeed in these highly dynamic environments: faster and better decision making driven by data.
Trend 1: Data-based decision making is the key to succeed in volatile work and market environments
In 2022, data-driven processes will become even more important to be ahead of the curve in decision-making. However, 58 percent of businesses still rely on their gut and experience instead of data and facts . “Daily business is shaped by increasingly complex decision making. And data becomes key to making better informed decision making - it is the gold that needs to be carved out,” explains Olaf Lorenz, Senior General Manager, Digital Transformation Division, Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe. “The aim is to transform the workplace experience by connecting people, spaces and technology that envisions the value in data to drive dynamic business change. Thanks to our experience in managing paper-based workflows, we have the expert knowledge to digitise these workflows – ultimately changing unstructured data to structured data.” To unlock business value, it is necessary to identify the right data within the vast volumes of data that companies store. With AI and Machine Learning (ML), this will no longer be a time consuming and arduous manual process undertaken by employees. AI and ML aggregate and analyse huge amounts of data to find crucial business insights. For example, everyday operations can be facilitated and accelerated with Konica Minolta’s Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools, that take over simple and repetitive tasks – ensuring that employees can focus on more creative and high value tasks. Similarly, in the context of data security, a SIEM system (Security Information and Event Management) by Konica Minolta can be used to scan data in real time to detect threats immediately and even predict them in advance.
Trend 2: The best of both worlds: The hybrid office will become the standard
According to a survey , 52 percent of employees want to be more flexible after the pandemic with regards to their location. This means, even in 2022, digital remote work or a hybrid solution will become the default in many organisations and exclusively working from an organisation’s offices will become the exception. Ana Esteban, Lead Customer Insights at Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe describes the changing paradigm for working environments: “The office will be perceived rather as a socialising point. It will be a location for presentations, team building exercises, introducing new projects or any other task where you need to bring your employees together for face-to-face communication.” As a result, solutions that enable seamless exchange and collaboration will become increasingly vital. With Microsoft 365, Konica Minolta enables smart and connected working in the cloud, e.g. by empowering teams to work simultaneously on documents regardless of time or place. As a Microsoft Global Managed Partner, Konica Minolta is working with Microsoft to accelerate our customers’ digital workplace transformations. With fewer employees being physically present in the office, the requirement for office space will reduce, leading to smaller offices . The IT infrastructure has to fit into the shrinking space. A great example of this evolution is the Workplace Hub from Konica Minolta – a comprehensive solution that combines server infrastructure with printing and document handling capabilities in one MFP.
Trend 3: The cloud moves to the centre of business workflows and “as a Service” solutions become business critical
In 2022, the ability to optimise utilisation of IT resources will be ever more relevant as the pressure of skills shortages continues to grow. 65 percent of CIOs agreed that challenges in hiring IT talent is negatively impacting the industry. Cloud solutions can therefore support here by freeing IT departments from the need to manage, secure and update IT infrastructure, while focusing those in-house resources on more strategically valuable projects. At the same time, cloud solutions enable organisations to keep tracks of costs, adapt services flexibly according to changing demands and save up budget for server capacities. This allows organisations to stay at the forefront of technology, irrespective of their size and ability to compete in the war for talent. “As business models are changing, and the need for flexibility and efficiency increases, organisations are moving away from traditional IT infrastructure towards a cloud first strategy,” comments Philipp Schröder, Head of Portfolio Strategy & Management at Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe. “However, one of the areas that often remains running on local servers is print management infrastructure. By moving your print infrastructure to the cloud, you will not only improve mobile working but also relieve IT personnel from the burden of managing various printer servers.”
Trend 4: The ransomware threat to businesses is set to increase
One of the challenges of hybrid and flexible working models, is maintaining data security and ultimately protecting companies’ intellectual property. Indeed, research by Konica Minolta found that 37 percent of organisations attributed a virus, malware, or general security threat specifically to the circumstances arising from COVID-19 situation . More than half of companies surveyed have already experienced an incident with ransomware in the past two years, making it a real threat. The rise of anonymous cryptocurrencies makes it easier for increasingly professionalised criminals to collect ransoms. “With more digital workflows, the potential targets for cyberattacks in companies multiply. Both software and hardware need to build a strong wall against those threats. Thus, cyber security has had to become even more of a top priority for organisations,” explains Torben Mowka, Product Manager at Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe. What organisations often don't have on their agenda is that MFPs can also be gateways for hacker attacks. Therefore, Konica Minolta has subjected its MFPs to extensive penetration tests provided by NTT DATA and the Security division of NTT Ltd. During the 80-hour test, the engineers unsuccessfully attempted to hack the devices. In addition, the optional Bitdefender virus scanning solution scans incoming and outgoing data in real time for infected data. If print jobs are infected, Bitdefender deletes them.
Trend 5: Sustainability in the workplace – from differentiator to business as usual
During the COP26 summit in Great Britain in November 2021, world leaders came together to discuss the Number 1 topic of our time - climate change and the actions needed to halt its catastrophic consequences. All stakeholders need to put effective measures in place – including businesses. At Konica Minolta, sustainability has been an integral part of its business and strategy for a long time. This also includes sustainable services for its customers, which aim to reduce their CO2 emissions. The bizhub ECO service, for example, offers pre-set eco configuration for MFPs that saves toner and automatically deletes blank pages. It also includes the Enabling Carbon Neutrality programme to offset carbon emissions during the lifecycle of the device. Since 2015, 30,000 tonnes of CO2 have already been offset. Beyond this, due to a cooperation with Treedom, a tree is planted in Kenya for every bizhub ECO service sold. “With this service, we contribute to both ecological and social solutions,” explains Sharon Heymann, Senior Expert Sustainability Management at Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe. “Sustainability is also about the whole lifecycle of devices and consumables. Konica Minolta products are designed with material and energy saving in mind and for a long lifetime so that they can be easily re-used after first use or recycled at the end of their lifecycle.”
Embracing the challenges and opportunities of 2022
Commenting on these five trends for 2022, Olaf Lorenz Senior General Manager Digital Transformation: “With all the challenges ahead of us, I believe that 2022 will be a year where we will all be able leverage new opportunities for a better business performance, more wellbeing in the workplace and a more sustainable and secure work environment.”