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Many experts have described their ideas about the future of work. They’ve contributed their definitions of digital—the benefits it can deliver, the disruption it will cause, the vital role technology will play in it, and what it will mean to transform and achieve “digital maturity.”

These are essential elements, for sure, but they don’t offer much in the way of guidance.

In a recent blog post, Gartner Research VP Craig Roth critiques the prevailing ideas about the future of work and suggests organizations approach it in a different way—“by starting from the desired outcome and working backward.”

Although the specifics of each company’s desired outcome will differ, most will be driven by the same objective: To replace fragmented, cumbersome legacy systems with frameworks that are interconnected, intuitive, comprehensive, flexible, and scalable.

Some companies opt for solutions like Microsoft’s Dynamics 365, which combines a traditional customer relationship management (CRM) platform with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software into one cloud service.

Power BI dashboard in Dynamics 365

A sample Power BI dashboard (Image: Microsoft)

Dynamics 365 integrates products like Office, Cortana, advanced analytics, and others to simplify business processes and increase productivity. With solutions like Dynamics 365, businesses can:

  • Use contextual data to fully understand customers and to create personalized experiences
  • Empower employees to achieve more by giving them familiar tools, proven processes and intelligent guidance to take the next best action
  • Optimize operations by accelerating the speed of doing business, improving SLAs and reducing costs
  • Transform products and services by using data to be proactive, to automate processes, and to innovate with new business models, services, products, and experiences
  • Achieve digital transformation through deeper business insights, empowered employees and improved customer experiences

Concrete examples of what organizations can do with Dynamics 365 include:

  • Respond to emails with information from finance and sales apps without ever leaving Outlook—less task-switching and hunting for information means increased productivity.
  • Create interactive reports and real-time visualizations in Dynamics 365 with Power BI dashboards and tiles that you add to your personal dashboards—immediate, actionable insights make innovation easier.
  • With PowerApps, you can create custom applications that enable you to use Dynamics 365 projects in a mobile app.
  • With Flow, you can set up trigger-based workflows to automate tasks and boost efficiency. For example, you can set up a workflow that tracks all tweets about your business and archives them in a SharePoint list.

Keep in mind, however, that implementing systems like Dynamics 365 is only a small part of the effort. The key to digital transformation success is ensuring employees use—and eventually master—the technology that is put in place.

In his post about the future of work, Gartner’s Roth describes his vision: “Have you ever been in a zone where you feel you’re zooming along a thread of valuable, creative, unique work? There are no annoying barriers in the way like tools adding constraints or unnecessary steps, there are no interruptions. You can feel the ‘progress bar’ of your work moving along with a concrete end in sight. Co-workers, tools, and environment do their part to enable completion, but not get in the way or guide its outcome. It’s enjoyable and fulfilling, leaving you with a sense of accomplishment and establishes your role in the furthering of a larger, worthy goal.”

As businesses begin their transformations and work toward digital maturity, they will likely hit rough spots. But, if they keep their focus on employees and desired outcomes—if they remind themselves that “the job of all those fancy tools is to quietly enable us and then get the heck out of the way,” writes Roth—they will be better able to create a future of work that everyone can embrace.

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