Monday, November 30, 2020

How Transforming Source-to-Pay Procurement Delivers Agility and Improves Outcomes at Zuellig Pharma

Transcript of a discussion on how to bring agility, resilience, and managed risk to the end-to-end procurement process for significantly better overall business outcomes.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: SAP Ariba.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect.


Our next intelligent procurement discussion explores the rationales and results when companies transform how they acquire goods and services. By injecting intelligence, automation, and standardization into the source-to-pay process, organizations are supporting even larger digital business transformation efforts.

Stay with us now as we hear from two pioneers in how to bring agility, resilience, and managed risk to the end-to-end procurement process for significantly better overall business outcomes. To show how organizations can embark on such a procurement and sourcing transformation journey, please join me now in welcoming our guests.

We’re here with Victoria Folbigg, Vice President of Procurement at Zuellig Pharma Holdings. Welcome, Victoria.

Victoria Folbigg: Thank you for having me, Dana.

We’re also joined by Baber Farooq, Senior Vice President of Product Strategy for Procurement Solutions at SAP. Welcome, Baber.

Baber Farooq: Thank you for having me, Dana.

Gardner: Baber, what are the top procurement trends and adoption patterns you’re seeing globally? Why is now such an important time to transform how you’re doing your sourcing and procurement?

Efficiency over productivity

Farooq: When we talk about trends in procurement, the macroeconomic factors governing the world -- particularly in this COVID-induced economy -- need to be kept in mind. Not only are we in a very dynamic situation, but the current scenario is impacting the function of the profession. This changing, evolving time presents an opportunity for procurement professionals to impact their businesses company-wide.

Firstly, if you look at the world, some of these trends existed prior to COVID hitting -- but I think they have accelerated. For the past 10 years, we’ve had declining productivity growth across the world. You can slice this by industry or by geography, but in general -- despite the technological advances from cloud computing, mobile technologies, and et cetera -- organizations from a labor productivity perspective are not becoming more-and-more productive.

This trend has existed for 10 to 15 years, but we really started seeing flattening over the past two to three years, particularly in the G7 countries. Now, it’s interesting because that past 10 years or so also correlates with some of the greatest economic expansion that the world has experienced. When things are going well, you can kind of say, “Yeah, productivity may be not necessarily so important.” But now that we’re in this unfortunate recession of remarkable scale, efficiency is going to become more-and-more important.

The second trend is we know that the digital economy has been expanding in this new millennium. It’s been expanding rapidly, and by all indications that trend will further accelerate in this new COVID-normal that everyone is trying to come to grips with. We have seen this in terms of our daily lives being disrupted and how digital tools have helped us to remain functional. Sometimes circumstances in the world that change everything become fuel for transformation. And to a large extent, I think the expansion of the digital economy will end up continuing and accelerating and procurement will play a significant role in that.

The third trend I see is this concept that The Economist has dubbed slowbalisation, which is the idea that despite the past 30 years of increasing globalization -- even prior to COVID, we saw a slowdown in globalization due to trade wars and nationalistic tendencies.

Post-COVID, I think organizations will ask the question, “Hey, this complicated global supply chain that has existed puts me at risk like I never thought of before if there’s something disruptive in the market.”

So, expect more focus on nearshore manufacturing across many industries. It’s going to become more prevalent from a goods perspective when we talk about trade. On the flip-side, from a service’s perspective, digitization will actually allow for more cross-border services to be provided. That includes things we never thought we could do cross-border before.

It will be a very interesting shift to see how the world changes with these trends, and how it impacts procurement. Procurement is going to play a pivotal and central role.

It will be a very interesting shift to see how the world changes with these trends, and how that impacts procurement. It doesn’t take a lot of reflection to see where synergies exist. If organizations are going to operate manufacturing differently than they have before, if supply chains will be structured differently, and if we engage in services procurement differently -- in all of those conversations, procurement is going to play a pivotal and central role.

And how are you going to try to come out of this productivity glut? If the promise of the artificial intelligence (AI) is going to help us come out of this productivity glut, then procurement is going to play a central role in how we use suppliers as key co-innovation partners. It means a very different lens about how you manage a relationship with your supplier base than we’ve done traditionally.

So those are some of the key factors if you look at how procurement is going to evolve over the next five to 10 years. The macroeconomic factors are the driving forces. The more that procurement professionals focus on providing solutions to their organizations around these areas the more impactful they can be. These are very different than the traditional metrics that we’ve had around cost savings. Those are still important, of course, don’t get me wrong. But if I think about how the procurement profession is changing and those trends, I think it’s going to be around these areas.

Medicine thinks globally, supplies locally

Gardner: Victoria, at your organization, Zuellig Pharma, are you also seeing these trends? Tell us about your organization and what you’ve been doing with procurement transformation?

Folbigg: Zuellig Pharma is one of the largest healthcare services groups in Asia. And as a pharma services company we distribute medicine in Asia. We are present in at least 13 countries, or what we call markets, in Asia. We also have clinical trials distribution throughout the world.

We realized pretty early on with all of the distribution capabilities and contact with healthcare professionals across Asia that we have a lot of data about drug purchasing preferences, which we are actively monetizing. We also have a significant role to play in ensuring the right medicines go to the market, which means preventing counterfeits and parallel trades.

Zuellig Pharma is not only enabling improved drug distribution, we also do vaccine distribution. In some of the bigger countries, for example, we take flu vaccines and distribute them to the various state hospitals and schools. It’s now very exciting for us to possibility be at the forefront of COVID-19 vaccines distribution. We are very busy figuring out how to make that possible across Asia.

Building on Baber’s points on globalization, which I found very relevant, there is a clear trend in supply of goods to move away from globalization. We have seen that even with the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) from China due to people being concerned about buying from China as well as the many custom issues for going in and out. People are naturally now looking for supply sources closer to their countries. We are seeing that as well.

Baber also spoke about the globalization of services. This is fabulous and very exciting, and we are seeing that. For example, when I now negotiate contracts with consulting companies, I begin by telling them there is no need for travel. And so why don’t you put your best team on my project? I don’t even need your team to be in Asia.

And that makes them pull a breath and step back and say, “Oh my God. You know, we had these natural differences between regions and different companies in the servicing industry.” That is breaking down because customers are expecting the best people on the job anywhere. I completely see that in my daily work now.

Gardner: Baber also mentioned the impact of AI, with more data-driven decision-making. While we’re grappling with rapid changes in sourcing and the requirements of rapid vaccination distribution and logistics, for example, how are the latest technologies helping you transform your procurement?

AI for 100 percent reliability

Folbigg: It’s an interesting and complex subject. When I talk to my peers on the manufacturing side -- and again we’re not a manufacturing company – they oversee a lot of direct spend. I see them embracing data-driven, AI-driven procedures and analysis.

With services industries, and with indirect procurement, it is much more difficult, I believe. And hence we are not so much on the forefront of AI thinking. Also because we’re in Asia, I’m wondering whether there is enough databases and rules to be able to draw the right decisions.

Established technologies like RPA and chatbots are filling holes because people need support. The labor force is getting more expensive and so having a robot do a menial task can be more efficient.

For example, if I want to find a different source among suppliers very far away, I would rely normally on a database that would go through millions of sources for a supplier. If the supplier, though, were a local company, I might not find any relevant databases. So the challenges we have in Asia are about getting data that can be analyzed and then draw insights from it.

Other more established technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) and chatbots are filling holes because people need support. As Baber said, the labor force is getting more expensive even in Asia. So having a robot do a menial task can be much better and more efficient than hiring somebody to do it.

Gardner: Baber, how common are these challenges around data and analytics that Zuellig Pharma is grappling with?

Farooq: What Victoria said is so accurate with respect to the challenges that customers are facing in using these technologies. The challenge we have as technology provider is to make sure that we provide access to these technologies in the most beneficial fashion. AI is a very broad topic that means a lot of different things these days.

The ultimate goal of AI is to provide insights and eliminate tasks while effectively focusing on actual business outcomes, and not having so much repetition. When Victoria mentions the, “Hey, we can use a lot of this in the direct materials space,” a lot of those are predictable, repetitive tasks.

In the services space, and for indirect materials purchasing, it’s more difficult to grapple with it because it’s not as predictable and it’s not as rule-oriented as in other areas. That gets to the true heart of the problem with AI across any space, right? The last mile of AI is very hard. You can make it 90 percent effective, but who is going to trust their business with a robotic or computational process that’s 90 percent effective? Making it a 100 percent effective is the real challenge.

This is why we don’t have self-driving cars right now, right? They work great in laboratories. They work great on test tracks. They are driven around deserts. So much advancement and capabilities have happened, but that last mile is still yet to be achieved. And the amount of data needed to make that last mile work is an order of magnitude greater than it is for the first 90 percent of achieving the outcome.

The onus and the burden, frankly, is on companies like SAP to make sure that we can solve this problem for customers like Zuellig so that they can truly trust their business for insights and for the outcome-driven work that they would want the machines to do before they go ahead and say, “Okay, we’re happy with AI.” There were predictions six to seven years ago that dermatologists would not be diagnosing skin cancer anymore because an app would be doing it by taking a photo. That’s not true. It hasn’t happened yet, right? But the potential is still there.

The focus is on the outcomes that professionals are looking for. Let's see if we can use the data from across the world to drive these outcomes in a sustainable and predictable fashion. This work is research-oriented.

For us, the focus is on the outcomes that professionals are looking for. Let’s see if we can use the data from across the world to drive these outcomes in a sustainable and predictable fashion. This work is research-oriented. It requires focus from companies such as SAP to say that this is where we’re going to take the initiative and actually drive toward this outcome.

The reason why we feel that SAP is one of the companies that can do this is we actually have so many data. I mean, if you look at the SAP Business Network and the fact that just on spend and sourcing events we’re carrying $20 to $25 trillion worth of procurement over the past 10 years, we believe we have the data that can start making an impact.

We have to prove it, undoubtedly, especially when it comes to niche economies and emerging markets, like Victoria said. But we have a very strong starting point. And, of course, at the same time, we have to be considerate about privacy concerns and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in all of these things. If you’re going to be mining data and then cross-applying the impacts across customer communities, you have to do it in a responsible manner.

So those are the things that we are grappling with. I clearly see there’s a trend here and you will see AI impacting procurement processes before you see AI driving cars on roads. There’s still a lot of work to be done, and there’s still a lot of data that needs to be mined in order to make sure that we’re building something that’s intelligence- and not just rule-based. You can use RPA, for sure, but that’s still rule-based. That’s not true intelligence, and no business is going to actually go ahead and say, “Hey, we’re happy with the insights that the machine is telling us or we’re happy with the machine doing the work of a human if it’s 90 to 95 percent accurate.” It really, really needs to be 99.9 percent accurate for that to happen.

Gardner: And whether we are doing this with AI or traditional data-driven analytics, what we need to deliver more of now are better agility, resilience, and managed risks.

Victoria, tell us about your journey at Zuellig Pharma and why you’re working toward those fundamental goals. How have you gone about revamping your source-to-pay procurement to attain that agility and resilience, and to managing risks?

Strategic procurement journey

Folbigg: Our real strategic sourcing journey started in 2016. And I like to call the company a 100-year-old startup because Zuellig Pharma is truly 100 years old. The company was, fair to say, in the early stages very decentralized. And then it moved to become more central-to-edge, with the need in Asia with emerging economies for general management to act much faster if there was a risk or opportunity. So these principles still apply.

But the chief executive saw the need for more strategic procurement, with transparency, visibility, and control of spend accountability. He sponsored the need to design and set up a lean procurement function within the Asia region. The first thing we decided to do was put a system in place to better anchor a new, all-encompassing, yet small procurement team. I have been getting this visibility, control, and data through our all-encompassing procurement system, SAP Ariba.

SAP Ariba has also been different because of its ecosystem and because they’re backed by SAP. And it has a support network and already-proven technology across Asia. Because of Asian tax rules, and the variety of Asian languages, we found when we looked at the market back in 2015-2016 that you needed a system that will grow with you. We needed something that’s anchored very strongly within Asia. From that, we gained control and visibility in stage one of our journey.

The next stage focused on process improvement. Our old key performance indicator (KPI) was about how long it takes to pay an invoice. And that you need to make it easier and user friendly but also have controls in place to ensure that you have no fund leakage. So, control and visibility are number one and two, and process improvement is number three. Next, we will be seeking agility and then insights.

But COVID-19 has shown the need for traditional procurement, too. For example, when it came time that we needed a PPE supplier -- everyone needed them. And it wasn’t a system that helped us, unfortunately. It’s more of people knowing people and finding out where there was capacity. That was not done via data-driven insights.

We had to go off system as well because sometimes we didn’t have time to get the supplies through the system. We also didn’t have time to pay the suppliers through the system because it was a supplier’s market: “You can have the shipment of your general masks. You take it or you leave it.”

The traditional kind of robust procurement systems were breaking down for us and exacerbated by the fact that we do not yet have the right kind of data to make these decisions. We still needed to be rather creative in how we found the best sources.

So very often we had to make this decision within an hour. And in some cases, I would come back to the supplier and say, “I’m ready to buy,” and they’re saying, “Sorry, somebody else offered me twice the price.” This was the reality of procurement last spring. It certainly brought us to the forefront because we needed to report to the CEO what we were doing to protect our business. We’re delivering the medicines to the hospitals. We probably needed this PPE for the drivers even more than the hospitals, and we needed to negotiate to buy that.

This is where the traditional kind of robust procurement systems were breaking down for us and exacerbated by the fact that we do not yet have the right amount of data on Asia translated into English to make these decisions as we would like to. That newer method may be strong and prevalent, of course, in the US and in Europe.

So that tested us quite a lot and it’s shown that we still needed to be rather creative in how we found the best sources. There are building blocks to what the systems allow you to do. And now we’re saying, “Okay, well, how can you give us insights? How can you give us this agility?” I think the systems need to evolve to be topical and to be able to address all of these use cases that came to the fore due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gardner: Listening to you reminds me of what Baber said about self-driving cars. You had to revert back to manual during the pandemic.

Folbigg: Bicycles even.

Pandemic forces procurement pivot

Farooq: It’s such a great point. One thing I’ve learned is that the technology and business processes we have constructed over the past 15 to 20 years kind of broke down. When you look at a pandemic of this magnitude -- it’s the greatest disruption in the world since World War II. The IMF just estimated how big. When the global financial crisis happened in 2008, the overall global GDP impact, because the emerging economies were not as affected, was a reduction of 0.1 to 0.2 percent in global GDP. This year we’re seeing a 5 percent GDP impact globally. It’s very, very significant.

The scale of the disruption is huge, and you are having these low-probability, high-impact events. Because they don’t happen for a long time, people presume they won’t happen, and they don’t plan for them.

What I’ve learned is, with technology and business processes, you need to keep in mind that one aspect that might have a 2 to 3 percent chance of happening. You can’t Pareto analysis that out of the way and not consider it. So it’s one thing to make sure that, of course, you’re not spending time focused on a problem that has a low chance of happening. But at the same time, you have to keep in mind that, “Hey, if there’s one of these events where if it happens, the results could be a complete breakdown.” You can’t ignore it, right? You need to make sure you have that factored into your technology.

So, emergency payment processes, emergency purchase order (PO) processes. These capabilities need to be built in. You can’t just presume that there’s going to be perfection that’s set up and available for all circumstances, and that’s the only thing you’re designing for, particularly when you talk about industries like life sciences.

Gardner: That’s the very character of agility and resiliency -- being able to have exception management for exceptions that you can’t anticipate. And certainly, we have seen that in the last seven months.

Now that we see how important procurement is for a larger organization during a very tumultuous time -- recognizing that we need to have the agility of working with the manual as well as the automatic -- what does the future portend? What will our systems need to now become in order to provide the new definition of agility and resiliency?

Agile systems preempt problems

Folbigg: We need agile systems, and we need to be able to solve specific use cases in order for these systems to become important, viable, and present within our procurement landscape and many ways of doing business.

It’s not good enough for us when everything reverts back to the system. When there is issue like a pandemic -- or for something that is not necessarily rule-based -- we then need to go off system, and that marginalizes the importance of the system. I honestly don’t know how you enable a search for suppliers that is largely relationship-based. But there are elements that come from the availability of data, data that is presented in a form that’s easily consumed, especially if the data has to be translated and normalized. That is something definitely that the system suppliers can play a role in.

When I look at the system now as the head of procurement, I am not looking at features and functions. I am looking at the problems that I need to solve through a system to enable us to drive the resiliency that the company needs. And if I look at the challenge that we have of enabling the potential like distribution across the world, what we are trying to do is not to be stuck in a situation that we had at the beginning of the year.

What we are looking proactively at is certain key suppliers to partner with to develop the system, to design the supply chain, and this is not transactional. This is a highly strategic activity based on human creativity, human network relationships, and trust between the leadership of different companies. It is a completely different design approach.

Now we are all thinking about preempting. How is the technology going to help me with what I am looking forward to? I need to be able to have the basic explanation at my fingertips fast in order for me and my team to concentrate on the strategic analysis.

Now we are all thinking about preempting. How is the technology going to help me with what I am looking forward to? I need to be able to have the basic explanation at my fingertips fast in order for me and my team to concentrate on the real strategic creative kinds of analysis.

Also, we need systems that can give us a lot of modeling and analysis. If you think about my problem now, I can buy freezers and cold storage for vaccines. But what am I going to do with them in five years’ time? You have supplies for the vaccine distribution. And then what?

I think the vaccine will become part-and-parcel of our cold chain and supply chain going forward because COVID-19 is not going to go away. The vaccines potentially are only going to last for a year or two, and you will have to be re-vaccinated. But, despite of all these high-cost, complex, energy-thirsty capital purchases, how do you do that? Now everything is done on the spur of the moment. A system that holistically can bring this all together for me would be a huge benefit.

Gardner: That point about being holistic, Baber, must be very important to you at SAP because you’ve been building out so many different systems, business capabilities, and data capabilities. It sounds like SAP might be actually in very good position to come to the rescue of somebody like Victoria, given that she has these pressing needs and wants to instantiate relationships into digital interactions. How SAP can help?

Supply chain for vaccine delivery

Farooq: It’s a privileged position because it’s a complicated problem. But it’s a problem that I believe SAP is one of the few companies that can support Zuellig. From our perspective, we want to get companies like Zuellig into a position where they can focus on those strategic elements and those creative elements that only humans can do. Creativity solving these problems is probably is one of the most complicated supply chain problems in recent history. The COVID vaccine distribution problem can only be solved through extensive creativity.

When SAP talks about the intelligent enterprise, that just means two very simple things. It means that I give an organization all of the insights and analytics capabilities at their fingertips so that they have the ability to quickly make decisions and pivot when they need to pivot, and that truly became evident during this pandemic. From our perspective, we have the ability.

If you look at all of the different processes that exist across manufacturing, distribution, sourcing, purchasing, procurement, payment -- all of these processes reside and are impacted by some element of SAP’s footprint. And our perspective is to make sure that all these elements can talk to each other. And by talking to each other, they can actively provide all of the data that’s required by organizations like Zuellig so that they can quickly make the decisions they need and focus on the strategic elements they need to focus on.

We don’t want people at Zuellig to be worried about how the POs are going to get raised and what are the different steps required for sourcing to take place. And that is very strictly the direction we want to take our products and we’re going to be taking our products so that we can go ahead and offer these solutions for companies like Zuellig.

The example that Victoria gave is just so close to my heart because I believe that when I was talking about the productivity decrease and growth that the world has experienced over the past 10 years, if we can make procurement more productive as a function, then procurement organizations can make the entire organization more productive. They can actually focus on supplier relationships and the co-innovation partnerships with suppliers that are critical suppliers. That has an impact on the entire business.

And no one is better suited to do doing that than procurement. We just have to get them out of the day-to-day processes of running reports, figuring out what the data says, and focusing on the transactional events and purchase orders and payments that take place. We need to get them out of those processes so they can leverage their skills in terms of finding the right suppliers, developing the right relationships that make an innovation impactful, and have an impact to the top line of organizations -- along with the bottom one.

And it is very clearly the direction that we are trying to take as rapidly as possible because we know that the next 12 months are critical in this space.

Gardner: Victoria, what advice could you give to others who are trying to transform their procurement organizations to take advantage of the agility and resilience that are now required? What advice can you offer for folks who might be not quite as far as long as you are in your transformation journey?

Educate around procurement

Folbigg: It’s complex because it depends very much on the specific company and how anchored procurement is. But it’s about making sure you find sponsors of the function who really understand the benefits of procurement. Give your team and yourself a job to show the benefit that strategic procurement can bring.

In this part of the world, we are just now seeing procurement on the university curriculum. Where I worked before, in Europe and the US, it was an established kind of skillset that we would learn in university. And there were courses on that in MBAs and social work. It’s just starting to anchor in universities in Asia. Go to your leadership and put procurement on the table and give a very factual and viable rationale of why the systems investment is very, very important.

As you are able to anchor your procurement with the system, it will put a lot of pressure on you to deliver the benefits that the system’s business cases provide. It gives you an opportunity to reach for wider buy-in of the system with you and your purchasers. Your training of people on what procurement can provide then becomes part of their evaluation. So, I think certainly this goes in hand-in-hand.

Gardner: Baber, anything more to offer?

Farooq: Victoria said something just a few moments ago. She said, “I really don’t care about the feature functionality. I only care about the outcomes.” That should be your North Star. It’s natural when you get into the deployment that you care about all the different little things, but one of the things that organizations often struggle with once the deployment begins is they stay in those sub-processes and functional elements.

I only care about outcomes. That should be your North Star. It's natural when you get into the deployment that you can care about all the little things, but one of the things that organizations struggle with is that they stay stuck in those sub-processes.

And a lot of the things that were the guiding reasons behind their transformation to begin with, those got lost, right? I say keep that front and center. That is the basis by which not only you will get internal buy-in, CEO buy-in, and CFO buy-in -- but it’s also something that you should constantly be reminding people of as well.

Of course you have to deliver to those outcomes and that’s where companies like SAP need to be held accountable and be a partner to make sure that those outcomes are delivered. But those business outcomes from a technology perspective is everything that we want to be focusing on and from a business perspective, and everything that the procurement organization should focus on.

And COVID-19 will force a recalibration on what those business outcomes should be. The traditional measures of the efficacy of procurement will change -- and should change -- because procurement can make a bigger, deeper impact for organizations.

Supply chain resilience is going to become a much more important factor. Procurement should embrace what they want to impact. Co-innovative partnerships that you deliver for the business should become a much more important factor. Procurement should embrace and show the impact. These are not measurements that were traditionally monitored, but they’re going to be increasing in terms of importance as we encounter the challenges of the next couple of years. This is something procurement organizations should embrace because it will elevate their standing in organizations.

Gardner: I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there. You’ve been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect discussion on the rationales and results when companies look to intelligent automation and standardization for how they acquire the goods and services.

And we’ve learned how organizations are finding -- even during the pandemic -- new lessons and efficiencies in how their source-to-pay processes and purchasing work best.

So please join me in thanking our guests, Victoria Folbigg, Vice President of Procurement at Zuellig Pharma Holdings. Thank you so much, Victoria.

Folbigg: Thank you for having me.

Gardner: And also a big thank you to Baber Farooq, Senior Vice President of Product Strategy for Procurement Solutions at SAP. Thank you, sir.

Farooq: Thank you, Dana, for having me.

And a big thank you as well to our audience for joining this BriefingsDirect modern digital business innovation discussion. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host throughout this series of SAP-sponsored BriefingsDirect discussions.

Thanks again for listening. Please do come back next time, and feel free to share this information across your IT and business communities.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: SAP Ariba.

Transcript of a discussion on how to bring agility, resilience, and managed risk to the end-to-end procurement process for significantly better overall business outcomes. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2020. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Here to Stay, Remote Work Promises to Deliver New Levels of Engagement, Productivity, and Innovation

Transcript of a discussion on new research into the future of work and how unprecedented innovation could mean a doubling of overall productivity in the coming years.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Citrix.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect.


The way people work has changed more in 2020 than the previous 10 years combined -- and that’s saying a lot. Even more than the major technological impacts of cloud, mobile, and big data, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated and deepened global behavioral shifts.

The ways that people think about where and how to work may never be the same, and new technology alone could not have made such a rapid impact.

So now is the time to take advantage of a perhaps once-in-a-lifetime disruption for the better. Steps can be taken to make sure that such a sea change comes less with a price and more with a broad boon -- to both workers and businesses.

Stay with us now as we explore research into the future of work and how unprecedented innovation could very well mean a doubling of overall productivity in the coming years.

We’re here with a panel to hear insights on how a remote-first strategy leads to a reinvention of work expectations and payoffs. Please join me in welcoming our guests, Jeff Vincent, Chief Executive Officer at Lucid Technology Services. Welcome, Jeff.

Jeff Vincent: Good morning, everybody. Nice to meet you all.

Gardner: We’re also here with Ray Wolf, Chief Executive Officer at A2K Partners. Welcome, Ray.

Ray Wolf: Hey, Dana, it’s great to be part of the conversation.

Gardner: And lastly, we’re here with Tim Minahan, Executive Vice President of Business Strategy and Chief Marketing Officer at Citrix.  Welcome back, Tim.

Tim Minahan: Thanks, Dana, it’s great to be with you.

Gardner: Tim, you’ve done some new research at Citrix. You’ve looked into what’s going on with the nature of work and a shift from what seems to be from chaos to opportunity. Tell us about the research and why it fosters such optimism.

Future of work belongs to tech

Minahan: Most of the world has been focused on the here-and-now, with how to get employees home safely, maintain business continuity, and keep employees engaged and productive in a prolonged work-from-home model. Yet we spent the bulk of the last year partnering with Oxford Analytica and Coleman Parkes to survey thousands of business and IT executives and to conduct qualitative interviews with C-level executives, academia, and futurists on what work is going to look like 15 years from now -- in 2035 -- and predict the role that technology will play.

Certainly, we’re already seeing an acceleration of the findings from the report. And if there’s any iota of a silver lining in this global crisis we’re all living through, it’s that it has caused many organizations to rethink their operating models, business models, and their work models and workforce strategies.

Work has no-doubt forever changed. We’re seeing an acceleration of companies embracing new workforce strategies, reaching to pools of talent in remote locales using technology, and opening up access to skill sets that were previously too costly near their office and work hubs.

Now they can access talent anywhere, enabling and elevating the skill sets of all employees by leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to help them perform as their best employees. They are ensuring that they can embrace entirely new work models, possibly even the Uber-fication of work by tapping into recent retirees, work-from-home parents, and caregivers who had opted-out of the workforce -- not because they didn’t have the skills or expertise that folks needed – but because traditional work models didn’t support their home environment.

We’re seeing an acceleration of companies liberated by the fact that they realize work can happen outside of the office. Many executives across every industry have begun to rethink what the future of work is going to look like when we come out of this pandemic.

Gardner: Tim, one of the things that jumped out at me from your research was a majority feel that technology will make workers at least twice as productive by 2035. Why such a newfound opportunity for higher productivity, which had been fairly flat for quite a while? What has changed in behavior and technology that seems to be breaking us out of the doldrums when it comes to productivity?

Work 2035: Citrix Research
Reveals a More Intelligent Future
Minahan: Certainly, the doubling of employee productivity is a factor of a couple things. Number one, new more flexible work models allow employees to work wherever they can do their best work. But more importantly, it is the emergence of the augmented worker, using AI and ML to help not just offer up the right information at the right time, but help employees make more informed decisions and speed up the decision-making process, as well as automating menial tasks so employees can focus on the strategic aspects of driving creativity and innovation for the business. This is one of the areas we think is the most exciting as we look forward to the future.

Gardner: We’re going to dig into that research more in our discussion. But let’s go to Jeff at Lucid Technology Services. Tell us about Lucid, Jeff, and why a remote-first strategy has been a good fit for you.

Remote service keep SMBs safe

Vincent: Lucid Technology Services delivers what amounts to a fractional chief information officer (CIO) service. Small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) need CIOs but don’t generally have the working capital to afford a full-time, always-on, and always-there CIO or chief technology officer (CTO). That’s where we fill the gap.

We bring essentially an IT department to SMBs, everything from budgeting to documentation -- and all points in between. And one of the big things that taught us to look forward is by looking backward. In 1908, Henry Ford gave us the modern assembly line, which promptly gave us the model T. And so horse-drawn buggy whip factories and buggy accessories suddenly became obsolete.

Something similar happened in the early 1990s. It was a fad called the Internet and it revolutionized work in ways that could not have been foreseen up to that point in time. We firmly believe that we’re on the precipice of another revolution of work just like then. The technology is mature at this point. We can move forward with it, using things like Citrix.

Gardner: Bringing a CIO-caliber function to SMBs sounds like it would be difficult to scale, if you had to do it in-person. So, by nature, you have been a pioneer in a remote-first strategy. Is it effective? Some people think you can’t be remote and be effective.

Vincent: Well, that’s not what we’ve been finding. This has been an evolution in my business for 20 years now. And the field has grown as the need has grown. Fortunately, the technology has kept pace with it. So, yes, I think we’re very effective.

Previously, let’s say a CPA firm of 15 providers, or a medical firm of three or four doctors with another 10 or so administrative and assistance staff on site all of the time, they had privileged information and data under regulation that needs safeguarding.

Well, if you are Arthur Andersen, a large, national firm, or Kaiser Permanente, or some really large corporation that has an entire team of IT staff on-site, then that isn’t really a problem. But when you’re under 25 to 50 employees, that’s a real problem because even if you were compromised, you wouldn’t necessarily know it.

If problems do develop, we can catch them when they're still small. And with such a light, agile team that's heavy on tech and the infrastructure behind it, a very few people can do the work of a lot of people.

We leverage monitoring technology, such as next-generation firewalls, and a team of people looking after that network operation center (NOC) and help desk to head those problems off at the pass. If problems do develop, we can catch them when they’re still small. And with such a light, agile team that’s heavy on tech and the infrastructure behind it, a very few people can do a lot of work for a lot of people. That is the secret sauce of our success.

Gardner: Jeff, from your experience, how often is it the CIO who is driving the remote work strategy?

Vincent: I don’t think remote work prior to the pandemic could have been driven from any other any other seat than the CIO/CTO. It’s his or her job. It’s their entire ethos to keep the finger on pulse of technology, where it’s going, and what it’s currently capable of doing.

In my experience, anybody else on the C-suite team has so much else going on. Everybody is wearing multiple hats and doing double-duty. So, the CTO is where that would have been driven.

But now, what I’ve seen in my own business, is that since the pandemic, as the CTO, I’m not generally leading the discussion -- I’m answering the questions. That’s been very exciting and one of the silver linings I’ve seen through this very trying time. We’re not forcing the conversation anymore. We are responding to the questions. I certainly didn’t envision a pandemic shutting down businesses. But clearly, the possibility was there, and it’s been a lot easier conversation [about remote work] to have over the past several months.

The nomadic way of work

Gardner: Ray, tell us about A2K Partners. What do you have in common with Jeff Vincent at Lucid about the perceived value of a remote-first strategy?

Wolf: A2K Partners is a digital transformation company. Our secret sauce is we translate technology into the business applications, outcomes, and impacts that people care about.

Our company was founded by individuals who were previously in C-level business positions, running global organizations. We were the consumers of technology. And honestly, we didn’t want to spend a lot of time configuring the technologies. We wanted to speed things up, drive efficiency, and drive revenue and growth. So we essentially built the company around that.

We focus on work redesign, work orchestration, and employee engagement. We leverage platforms like Citrix for the future of work and for bringing in productivity enhancements to the actual processes of doing work. We ask, what’s the current state? What’s the future state? That’s where we spend a lot of our time.

As for a remote-first strategy, I want to highlight that our company is a nomadic company. We recruit people who want to live and work from anywhere. We think there’s a different mindset there. They are more apt to accept and embrace change. So untethered work is really key.

What we have been seeing with our clients -- and the conversations that we’re having currently today -- is the leaders of every organization, at every level, are trying to figure out how we come out of this pandemic better than when we went in. Some actually feel victims, and we’re encouraging them that this is really an opportunity.

Some statistics from the last three economic downturns: One very interesting one is that companies that started before the downturn in the bottom 20 percent emerged in the top 20 percent after the downturn. And you ask yourself, “How does a mediocre company all of a sudden rise to the top through a crisis?” This is where we’ve been spending time, in figuring out what plays they are running and how to better help them execute on it.

As Work Goes Virtual, Citrix Research Shows
Companies Need to Follow Talent Fleeing Cities
The companies that have decided to use this as a period to change the business model, change the services and products they’re offering, are doing it in stealth mode. They’re not noisy. There are no press releases. But I will tell you that next March, June, or September, what will come from them will create an Amazon-like experience for their customers and their employees.

Gardner: Tim, in listening to Jeff and Ray, it strikes me that they look at remote work not as the destination -- but the starting point. Is that what you’re starting to see? Have people reconciled themselves with the notion that a significant portion of their workforce will probably be remote? And how do we use that as a starting point -- and to what?

Minahan: As Jeff said, companies are rethinking their work models in ways they haven’t since Henry Ford. We just did OnePoll research polling with thousands of US-based knowledge workers. Some 47 percent have either relocated out of big metropolitan areas or are in the process of doing that right now. They can primarily because they’ve proven to themselves that they can be productive when not necessarily in the office.

Similarly, some 80 percent of companies are now looking at making remote work a more permanent part of their workforce strategy. And why is that? It is not just merely should Sam or Sally work in the office or work at home. No, they’re fundamentally rethinking the role of work, the workforce, the office, and what role the physical office should play.

And they’re seeing an opportunity, not just from real estate cost-reduction, but more so from access to talent. If we remember back nine months ago to before the great pandemic, we were having a different discussion. That discussion was the fact that there was a global talent shortage, according to McKinsey, of 95 million medium- to high-skilled workers.

That hasn’t changed. It was exacerbated at that time because we were organized around traditional work-hub models -- where you build an office, build a call center, and you try like heck to hire people from around that area. Of course, if you happen to build in a metropolitan area right down the street from one of your top competitors -- you can see the challenge.

In addition, there was a challenge around attaining the right skillsets to modernize and digitize your businesses. We’re also seeing an acceleration in the need for those skills because, candidly, very few businesses can continue to maintain their physical operations in light of the pandemic. They have had to go digital.

As companies rethink all of this, they're reviewing how to use technology to embrace a much more flexible work model, one that gives access to talent anywhere. I like the nomadic work concept.

And so, as companies are rethinking all of this, they’re reviewing how to use technology to embrace a much more flexible work model, one that gives access to talent anywhere, just as Ray indicated. I like the nomadic work concept.

Now, how do I use technology to even further raise the skillsets of all of my employees so they perform like the very best. This is where that interesting angle of AI and ML comes in, of being able to offer up the right insights to guide employees to the right next step in a very simple way. At the same time, that approach removes the noise from their day and helps them focus on the tasks they need to get done to be productive. It gives them the space to be creative and innovative and to drive that next level of growth for their company.

Gardner: Jeff, it sounds like the remote work and the future of work that Tim is describing sets us up for a force-multiplier when it comes to addressable markets. And not just addressable markets in terms of your customers, who can be anywhere, but also that your workers can be anywhere. Is that one of the things that will lead to a doubling of productivity?

Workers and customers anywhere

Vincent: Certainly. And the thing about truth is that it’s where you find it. And if it’s true in one area of human operations, it’s going to at least have some application in every other. For example, I live in the Central Valley of California. Because of our climate, the geology, and the way this valley was carved out of the hillside, we have a disproportionately high ability to produce food. So one of the major industries here in the Central Valley is agriculture.

You can’t do what we do here just anywhere because of all those considerations: climate, soil, and rainfall, when it comes. The fact that we have one of the tallest mountain ranges right next to us gives us tons of water, even if it doesn’t rain a lot here in Fresno. But you can’t outsource any of those things. You can’t move any of those things -- but that’s becoming a rarity.

If you focus on a remote-first workplace, you can source talent from anywhere; you can locate your business center anywhere. So you get a much greater recruiting tool both for clientele and for talent.

Another thing that has been driven by this pandemic is that people have been forced to go home, stay there, and work there. Either you’re going to figure out a way to get around the obstacles of not being able to go to the office or you’re going to have to close down, and nobody wants to do that. So they’ve learned to adapt, by and large.

And the benefits that we’re seeing are just manifold. They go into everything. Our business agility is much greater. The human considerations of your team members improve, too. They have had an artificial dichotomy between work responsibilities and home life. Think of a single parent trying to raise a family and put bread on the table.

Work Has Changed Forever, So That Experience
Now, with the remote-first workplace, it becomes much easier. Your son, your daughter, they have a medical appointment; they have a school need; they have something going on in the middle of the day. Previously you had to request time off, schedule around that, and move other team members into place. And now this person can go and be there for their child, or their aging parents, or any of the other hundreds of things that can go sideways for a family.

With a cloud-based workforce, that becomes much less of a problem. You have still got some challenges you’ve got to overcome, but there are fewer of them. I think everybody is reaping the benefits of that because with fewer people needing to be in the office, that means you can have a smaller office. Fewer people on the roads means less environmental impact of moving around and commuting for an hour twice a day.

Gardner: Ray Wolf, what is it about technology that is now enabling these people to be flexible and adaptive? What do you look for in technology platforms to give those people the tools they need?

Do more with less

Wolf: First, let’s talk about the current technology situation. The average worker out there has eight applications and 10 windows open. The way technology is provisioned to some of our remote workers is working against them. We have these technologies for all. Just because you give someone access to a customer relationship management (CRM) system or a human resources (HR) system doesn’t necessarily make them more productive. It doesn’t take into consideration how they like to do work. When you bring on new employees, it leaves it up to the individual to figure out how to get stuff done.

With the new platforms, Citrix Workspace with intelligence, for example, we’re able to take those mundane tasks and lock then into memory muscle through automation. And so, what we do is free-up time and energy using the Citrix platform. Then people can start moving and essentially upscaling, taking on higher cognitive tasks, and building new products and services.

That’s what we love about it. The other side is it’s no code and low code. The key here is just figuring out where to get started and making sure that the workers have their fingerprints on the plan because your worker today knows exactly where the inefficiencies are. They know where the frustration is. So we have a number of use cases that in the matter of six weeks, we were able to unlock almost a day per week worth of productivity gains, of which one of our customers in the sale spaces, a sales vice president, coined the word “proactivity.”

For them, they were taking that one extra day a week and starting to be proactive by pursuing new sales and leads and driving revenue where they just didn’t have the bandwidth before.

Through of our own polling of about 200 executives, we discovered that 50 percent of the companies are scaling down on their resources because they are unsure of the future. And that leaves them with the situation of doing more with less. That’s why the automation platforms are ideal for freeing up time and energy so they can deal with a reduced work force, but still gain the bandwidth to pursue new services and products. Then they can come out and be in that top 20 percent after the pandemic.

Gardner: Tim, I’m hearing Citrix Workspace referred to as an automation platform. How does Workspace not just help people connect, but helps them automate and accelerate productivity?

Keep talent optimized every day

Minahan: Ray put his finger on the pulse of the third dynamic we were seeing pre-pandemic, and it’s only been exacerbated. We talked first about the global shortage of medium- to high-skills talent. But then we talked about the acute shortage of digital skills that those folks need.

The third part is, if you’re lucky enough to have that talent, it’s likely they are very frustrated at work. A recent Gallup poll says 87 percent of employees are disengaged at work, and that’s being exacerbated by all of the things that Ray talked about. We’ve provided these workers with all of these tools, all these different channels, Teams and Slack and the like, and they’re meant to improve their performance in collaboration. But we have reached a tipping point of complexity that really has turned your top talent into task rabbits.

What Citrix does with our digital Workspace technology is it abstracts away all of that complexity. It provides unified access to everything an employee needs to be productive in one experience that travels with them. So, their work environment is this digital workspace -- no matter what device they are on, no matter what location they are at, no matter what work channel they need to navigate across.

What gets exciting now is the intelligence components. Infusing this with ML and AI automates away and guides an employee through their workday. It automates away those menial tasks so they can focus on what's important.

The second thing is it wrappers that in security, both secure access on the way in (I call it the bouncer at the front door), as well as ongoing contextual application of security policies. I call that the bodyguard who follows you around the club to make sure you stay out of trouble. And that gives IT the confidence that those employees can indeed work wherever they need to, and from whatever device they need to, with a level of comfort that their company’s information and assets are made secure.

But what gets exciting now is the intelligence components. Infusing this with ML and AI automates away and guides an employee through their work day. It automates away those menial tasks so they can focus on what’s important.

And that’s where folks like A2K come in. They can bring in their intellectual property and understanding of the business processes -- using those low- to no-code tools -- to actually develop extensions to the workspace that meet the needs of individual functions or individual industries and personalize the workspace experience for every individual employee.

Ray mentioned sales force productivity. They are also doing call center optimization. So, very, very discreet solutions that before required users to navigate across multiple different applications but are now handled through a micro app player that simplifies the engagement model for the employee, offering up the right insights and the right tasks at the right time so that they can do their very best work.

Gardner: Jeff Vincent, we have been talking about this in terms of worker productivity. But I’m wondering about leadership productivity. You are the CEO of a company that relies on remote work to a large degree. How do you find that tools like Citrix and remote-first culture works for you as a leader? Do you feel like you can lead a company remotely?

Workspace enhances leadership

Vincent: Absolutely. I’m trying to take a sip out of a fire hose, because everything I am hearing is exactly what we have been seeing -- just put a bit more eloquently and with a bit more data behind it -- for quite a long time now.

Leading a remote team really isn’t any different than leading a team that you look at. I mean, one of the aspects of leadership, as it pertains to this discussion, is having everybody know what is expected of them and when the due date is, enabling them with the tools they need to get the work done on time and on budget, right?

And with Citrix Workspace technology, the workflows automate expense report approvals, they automate calendar appointments, and automate the menial tasks that take up a lot of our time every single day. They now become seamless. They happen almost without effort. So that allows the leaders to focus on, “Okay, what does John need today to get done the task that’s going to be due in a month or in a quarter? Where are we at with this prospect or this leader or this project?”

And it allows everybody to take a moment, reflect on where they are, reflect on where they need to be, and then get more surgical with our people on getting there.

Gardner: Ray, also as a CEO, how do you see the intersection of technology, behavior, and culture coming together so that leaders like yourself are the ones going to be twice as productive?

Wolf: This goes to a human capital strategy, where you’re focusing on the numerator. So, the cost of your resources and the type of resource you need fit within a band. That’s the denominator.

The numerator is what productivity you get out of your workforce. There’s a number of things that have to come into play. It’s people, process, culture, and technology -- but not independent or operating in a silo.

And that’s the big opportunity Jeff and Tim are talking about here. Imagine when we start to bring system-level thinking to how we do work both inside and outside of our company. It’s the ecosystem, like hiring Ray Wolf as the individual contributor, yet getting 13 Ray Wolfs; that’s great.

But what happens if we orchestrate the work between finance, HR, the supply chain, and procurement? And then we take it an even bigger step by applying this outside of our company with partners?

How Lucid Technology Services Adapts
We’re working with a very large distributor right know with hundreds of resellers. In order to close deals, they have to get into the other partner’s CRM system. Well, today, that happens with about eight emails over a number of days. And that’s just inefficient. But with Citrix Workspace you’re able to cross-integrate processes inside and outside of your company in a secure manner, so that entire ecosystems work seamlessly. As an example, just think about the travel reservation systems, which are not owned by the airlines, but are still a heart-lung function for them, and they have to work in unison.

We’re really jazzed about that. How did we discover this? Two things. One, I’m an aerospace engineer by first degree, so I saw this come together in complex machines, like jet engines. And then, second, by running a global company, I was spending 80 hours a week trying to reconcile disparate data: One data set says sales were up, another that productivity was up, and then my profit margins go down. I couldn’t figure it out without spending a lot of hours.

And then we started a new way of thinking, which is now accelerated with the Citrix Workspace. Disparate systems can work together. It makes clear what needs to be done, and then we can move to the next level, which is democratization of data. With that, you’re able to put information in front of people in synchronization. They can see complex supply chains complete, they can close sales quicker, et cetera. So, it’s really awesome.

I think we’re still at the tip of the iceberg. The innovation that I’m aware of on the product roadmap with Citrix is just awesome, and that’s why we’re here as a partner.

Gardner: Tim, we’re hearing about the importance of extended enterprise collaboration and democratization of data. Is there anything in your research that shows why that’s important and how you’re using that understanding of what’s important to help shape the direction of Citrix products?

Augmented workers arrive

Minahan: As Ray said, it’s about abstracting away that lower-level complexity, providing all the integrations, the source systems, the service security model, and providing the underlying workflow engines and tools. Then experts like Lucid and A2K can extend that to create new solutions for driving business outcomes.

From the research, we can expect the emergence of the augmented worker, number one. We’re already beginning to see it with bots and robotic process automation (RPA) systems. But at Citrix we’re going to be moving to a much higher level, where it will do things similar to what Ray and Jeff were saying, abstracting away a lot of the menial tasks that can be automated. But we can also perform at a higher level, tasks at a much more informed and rapid pace through use of AI, which can compress and analyze massive amounts of data that would take us a very long time individually. ML can adapt and personalize that experience for us.

The research indicates that while robots will replace some tasks and jobs, they will also create many new jobs. You'll see a rise in demand for new roles, such as a bot or AI trainer, a virtual reality manager, and advanced data scientists.

Secondly, the research indicates that while robots will replace some tasks and jobs, they will also create many new jobs. And, according to our Work 2035 research, you’ll see a rise in demand for new roles, such as a bot or AI trainer, a virtual reality manager, advanced data scientists, privacy and trust managers, and design thinkers such as the folks at A2K and Lucid Technology Solutions are already doing. They are already working with clients to uncover the art of the possible and rethinking business process transformation.

Importantly, we also identified the need for flexibility of work. Shifting your mindset from thinking about a workforce in terms of full-time equivalents (FTEs) instead of pools of talent. And you understand the individual skillsets that you need and bring them together and assemble them rather quickly to address a certain project or issue that you have using digital Citrix Workspace technology, and then disassemble them just as quickly.

But you’ll also see a change in leadership. AI is going to take over a lot of those business decisions and possibly eliminate the need for some middle management teams. The bulk of our focus can be not so much managing as driving new creative ideas and innovation.

Gardner: I’d love to hear more from both Jeff and Ray about how businesses prepare themselves to best take advantage of the next stages of remote work. What do you tell businesses about thinking differently in order to take advantage of this opportunity?

Imagine what’s possible to work

Vincent: Probably the single biggest thing you can do to get prepared for the future of work is to rethink IT and your human capital, your team members. What do they need as a whole?

A business calls me up and says, “Our server is getting old, we need to get a new server.” And previously, I’d say, “Well, I don’t know if you actually need a server on-site, maybe we talk about the cloud.”

So educate yourself as a business leader on what out there is possible. Then take that step, listen to your IT staff, listen to your IT director, whoever that may be, and talk to them about what is out there and what’s really possible. The technology enabling remote work has grown exponentially, even in last few months, in its adoption and capabilities.

If you looked at the technology a year or two ago, that world doesn’t exist anymore. The technology has grown dramatically. The price point has come down dramatically. What is now possible wasn’t a few years ago.

So listen to your technology advisers, look at what’s possible, and prepare yourself for the next step. Take capital and reinvest it into the future of work.

Wolf: What we’re seeing that’s working the best is people are getting started anyway, anyhow. There really wasn’t a playbook set up for a pandemic, and it’s still evolving. We’re experiencing about 15 years’ worth of change in every three months of what’s going on. And there’s still plenty of uncertainty, but that can’t paralyze you.

We recommend that people fundamentally take a look at what your core business is. What do you do for a living? And then everything that enables you to do that is kind of ancillary or secondary.

When it comes to your workforce -- whether it’s comprised of contractors or freelancers or permanent employees -- no matter where they are, have a get stuff done mentality. It’s about what you are trying to get done. Don’t ask them about the systems yet. Just say, “What are you trying to get done?” And, “What will it take for you to double your speed and essentially only put half the effort into it?”

And listen. And then define, configure, and acquire the technologies that will enable that to happen. We need to think about what’s possible at the ground level, and not so much thinking about it all in terms of the systems and the applications. What are people trying to do every day and how do we make their work experience and their work life better so that they can thrive through this situation as well as the company?

Gardner: Tim, what did you find most surprising or unexpected in the research from the Work 2035 project? And is there a way for our audience to learn more about this Citrix research?

Minahan: One of the most alarming things to me from the Work 2035 project, the one where we’ve gotten the most visceral reaction, was the anticipation that, by 2035, in order to gain an advantage in the workplace, employees would literally be embedding microchips to help them process information and be far more productive in the workforce.

I’m interested to see whether that comes to bear or not, but certainly it’s very clear that the role of AI and ML -- we’re only scratching the surface as we drive to new work models and new levels of productivity. We’re already seeing the beginnings of the augmented worker and just what’s possible when you have bots sitting -- virtually and physically -- alongside employees in the workplace.

We’re seeing the future of work accelerate much quicker than we anticipated. As we emerge out the other side of the pandemic, with the guidance of folks like Lucid and A2K, companies are beginning to rethink their work models and liberate their thinking in ways they hadn’t considered for decades. So it’s an incredibly exciting time.

Gardner: And where can people go to learn more about your research findings at Citrix?

Minahan: To view the Work 2035 project, you can find the foundational research at, but this is an ongoing dialogue that we want to continue to foster with thought leaders like Ray and Jeff, as well as academia and governments, as we all prepare not just technically but culturally for the future of work.

Gardner: I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there. You’ve been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect discussion on the impacts from a once-in-a-lifetime disruption of how people are thinking about work. And we’ve learned how a remote-first strategy can lead to reinvention of work expectations and payoffs -- including perhaps a doubling of overall productivity in the coming years.

So a big thank you to our guests, Jeff Vincent, CEO at Lucid Technology Solutions. Thank you so much, Jeff.

Vincent: Thank you guys. I really had a great time being a part of this discussion and I look forward to the next one.

Gardner: And a big thank you as well to Ray Wolf, CEO at A2K Partners. Thank you, Ray.

Wolf: You’re welcome, Dana. It’s great to explore this topic.

Gardner: And thank you also to Tim Minahan, Executive Vice President of Business Strategy and Chief Marketing Officer at Citrix. Always a pleasure, Tim.

Minahan: Thanks Dana. I really enjoyed the discussion.

And lastly, a big thank you to our audience for joining this Briefings Direct remote work innovation discussion. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host throughout this series of Citrix-supported BriefingsDirect discussions.

Thanks again for listening. Please pass this along to your community, and do come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Citrix.

Transcript of a discussion on new research into the future of work and how unprecedented innovation could mean a doubling of overall productivity in the coming years. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2020. All rights reserved.

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