Working smart

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IBM Global Business Services Executive Report

Working smarter

IBM Institute for Business Value

A new way of working
Insights from global leaders

IBM Institute for Business Value

IBM Global Business Services, through the IBM Institute for Business Value, develops fact-based strategic insights for senior executives around critical public and private sector issues. This executivereport is based on an in-depth study by the Institute’s research team. It is part of an ongoing commitment by IBM Global Business Services to provide analysis and viewpoints that help companies realize business value. You may contact the authors or send an e-mail to for more information.


By Nancy Pearson, Eric Lesser and Joel Sapp

Institute for Business Value,organizations that are significantly outperforming their industry peers also happen to be making more headway on newer approaches to work. They’re using dynamic, collaborative and connected ways of working to get things done effectively within a constantly changing environment. But most organizations are not yet meeting their ambitions in these areas. For those at the forefront and those laggingbehind, this research offers insights into the critical practices and technologies that are fundamentally changing the nature of work.
In spite of – and perhaps because of – an increasingly complicated and constantly changing business environment, organizations are under intense pressure to get work done faster, cheaper and more effectively. The basic mechanics of work as we know it are beingredefined. “Work” is no longer bounded by coworker proximity or time zone. It also involves a much broader set of “workers” – not just employees, suppliers and partners, but customers, freelancers and an increasingly capable network of smart devices and interconnected systems, all tied together by business processes that span organizations, time and distance. Based on our ongoing research andinvolvement with organizations of various sizes around the globe, we have identified 15 approaches to accomplishing work in a more dynamic, collaborative and connected fashion. We call these smarter working practices. To better understand how organizations are using these newer approaches to work, and how these practices contribute to better business performance, we surveyed more than 275 seniorexecutives worldwide. Our analysis surfaced several key findings:

It pays to work smarter not harder. According to a recent study by the IBM

Leading organizations use smarter working practices far more extensively than their lower-performing peers. And they’re doing so to fuel growth, not just drive efficiency. Across organizations, the three most pronounced capability gaps blockinggreater agility are: process and skill reconfiguration; broader and more embedded collaboration; and integrated, realtime information for decision making. The most dynamic, collaborative and connected companies have widely adopted specific technologies that make smarter working practices viable.


A new way of working

As the pace of change accelerates and business complexity intensifies,what will differentiate an organization from its competitors? We believe the answer lies in how it works – not how hard it works, but rather how smart it works. Those at the forefront of their industries will be agile enough to adapt rapidly as, not after, situations change. They will harness the collective capabilities of an extensive network of collaborators, not just those on their payrolls.Their workers will have access to information and expertise precisely when and where they’re needed, regardless of where they come from. Clearly, these smarter ways of working hold great potential; equally important, they are within reach. As this research and supporting case studies show, companies are already making headway and reaping returns.

The complexity of work is rising as well....
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