Make a Futurist Proud – Embracing XaaS

I recently saw the announcement for Amazon Chime – their new collaboration tool a la Skype. They referenced a Synergy Research Group study about players in the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (Paas) markets – talking about digital workplace products.

With more conversations around the workplace for the future (WoTF) incorporating technology that allows for digitizing content and giving employees more flexibility in how they work and where they work, I was thinking back on some insights I previously referenced from futurists.

Perhaps you remember reading: “We continue to recognize that technology will push boundaries faster and faster as more tasks are integrated into our work-life environment.” I took a brief look at what futurists were predicting about the cognitive systems, mimicking human reasoning and solutions with robotics.


What I find intriguing now is Deloitte Technology Consulting’s (DTC) Tech Trends 2017 has coined the all-encompassing term Everything-as-a Service (XaaS) — acknowledging that our future technological drive with IaaS, PaaS and SaaS etc. is creating a new environment for how we work and live.

My reality check for this trend was integration and connectivity. We were talking about what connectivity is going to do for us in the future with how we connect and with what we connect. I usually look back to what can be done in the home with more tools to make our lives easier – ordering prepackaged but raw meals for us to put together and cook (Dinner-as-a-Service?) or simply ordering groceries online for home delivery or store pick up (Shopping-as-a-Service?). As the XaaS suggests, we have leveraged a lot of tasks as a service to make our lives easier. It is only natural to expect that the workplace does the same.

What that means is that you need a transformational vision at the top. The drive may come from every employee looking to do task “a better way,” but the operational imperative needs to be driven from the top.

That brings me back to today – with the future as soon as tomorrow, XaaS should drive business solutions like Enterprise Content Management (ECM) to encompass more routine tasks and become an operational imperative for more and more businesses – big, medium or small – as they look to improve their operations in the future. We’ve already minimized manual processes and embraced more services to augment our routine tasks at home, so it is only expected that the same happens at work. For employees who have already digitized, automated, and embraced the ease that technology affords them in their everyday life – the work-expectation is there.

A content management solution not only empowers the organization to operate better because of reducing manual intervention but also increases access to data that helps managers understand their business. Through system analytics, they can see performance, identify roadblocks and make better decisions by analyzing their own information. Maybe you have seen that a top job for the future is a Data Scientist. We are already acknowledging that our systems are affecting our processes, but also how we thing about them and utilize the data they provide to us.

It is this trend that is worth looking at more closely – mainly because we are moving away from so many manual operations in our work and life that XaaS suggests.

The DTC study prompted us to think.

“What can everything-as-a-service do for your business?”

“How can XaaS transform the way your employees work?”

They go on to suggest that businesses think about the way their employees work and the tasks they perform, asking whether, if they were to view their processes and strategies through an XaaS, they might “illuminate entirely new opportunies to grow revenue and drive efficiency.” It has to start somewhere. Reaping the benefits technology is not only the process but also the knowledge. You can operate smarter because you can capture more data on “how things work” – are you efficient enough?

This vision is the exact strategy we expect businesses to consider when following that operational imperative. They need to recognize that there must be a better way to operate – and identifying the basic needs of digitizing content, managing it for automated workflow and empowering employees through mobile access and safely storing their data in the cloud – speaks to changing the traditional, manual, task-heavy way of doing business to another mindset – a futurist’s mindset for which better content management is just the beginning.

We are clearly on the cusp of more “things.” Technology is known to drive new behavior provided that everyone has the right mindset for their transformational strategy. Slow to change. Slow to learn. Slow to embrace new ways has happened throughout history with great inventions and small upgrades available to make our lives operation better.

The technical term ‘early adopters’ identifies the people and organizations willing to run, full-power toward what is new because they have already changed their way of thinking. For everyone else, while change may be slower, on the technological landscape a slow-start can mean you are running to catch-up – an opportunity lost for reaping the benefits of technology. A hit to your bottom line.

A testimony from the transformed can only serve to illustrate tangible value, and in the DPS study I noted one significant insight which says it all. This was from the State of Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology and provided by David McCurdy CTO. “Xaas – discrete products and processes can be transformed into horizontal services that span the enterprise and beyond.” He goes on to say that shedding the “decades-old technologies or paper-based process” and recognizing “the need for services based on modern digital ways of engaging.”  Thus, he has put his organization squarely on the path to make any futurist proud and recognize the value of transforming how routine operations and traditional ways of work have changed.

With the critical change to the mindset, we can see the value of digital transformation, how we work, how with think about work and what our data tells us about how to do it better. Supporting the technology drive toward improved connectivity, integration and analytics – we are enabled to stop operating in a vacuum and embrace a new transparent work environment affording greater insight and value for growth.

Joanne Novak is a program manager at Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. and is responsible for program development with the company’s Business Intelligence groups, including the Intelligent Information Management (IIM) practice. Her responsibilities are to build sales and customer-facing educational and thought leadership insights as well as strategic initiatives for IIM.