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How Savvy Pioneers Lead the Future of Work

Hybrid and fully remote work are inevitable in the Global Networked Economy where high-performance talent demands flexibility from employers. To enable these progressive work models, organizations are investing in a wide range of technologies to support more agile types of employment. 

According to the latest worldwide market study by International Data Corporation (IDC), leading organizations will spend nearly $1 billion on the Future of Work (FoW) in 2023 -- that's an increase of 18.8 percent over 2022.

Future of Work Market Development

"Work models continue to evolve, but 37 percent of decision-makers in a recent global survey note that Remote and Hybrid work models will be an embedded part of accepted work practices, supported by a continued shift to the cloud, increasingly instrumented and interconnected physical workplaces, and intelligent digital workspaces," said Holly Muscolino, group vice president at IDC.

According to the IDC assessment, organizations must make ongoing investments in digital technology to attract and retain talent, increase operational efficiency, and remain strategically competitive.

IDC defines the FoW as a fundamental change to the work model to one that fosters human-machine collaboration, enables new skills and worker experiences, and supports a reimagined physical workplace and borderless digital workspace.

IDC analysts also believe that the FoW environment must be intelligent and dynamic, connected and secure, and independent of a physical place or specific time of day. In other words, very flexible, and not rigid like the prior status quo.

The technology investments here must enable access to corporate resources and support collaboration to allow all workers to effectively contribute, whether full-time or part-time, local or remote, or permanent or temporary -- and whether human or machine.

From a technology perspective, the largest area of investment in 2023 will be hardware, where companies are expected to purchase more than $300 billion in endpoint devices, enterprise hardware, infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and robotics and drones.

Software will be the second-largest area of spending this year at more than $276 billion. This includes investments in enterprise applications, content and collaboration, analytics and artificial intelligence, human resources applications, security, and software development and deployment.

Software will also see the fastest spending growth with a CAGR of 21.7 percent over the five-year forecast period. IT services and business services in support of FoW efforts will be more than $185 billion combined in 2023.

Outlook for Future of Work Technology Growth

The investment organizations are making in FoW technologies worldwide will exceed $1.5 billion by 2026, with growth in the Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan and China) region, and China (PRC) outpacing other regions.

Discrete manufacturing, process manufacturing, and professional services are the largest industries, controlling just over 40 percent of the FoW IT spend. Collaborative robotics, automated customer management, and interconnected collaborative workspace top the list of use cases.

That said, I believe there will be continued mounting pressure in some sectors of the economy to return to normal (typically return-to-office mandates) that will separate the savvy pioneers from the legacy laggards.

Eventually, I foresee that CEOs will routinely embrace flexible working models, but first, they will need to reassure middle managers that they can learn the skills to lead an 'Anywhere Workforce'. Once legacy middle managers accept the inevitable change, then FoW progress will become commonplace.

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