By Tobias Andersson, Chief Operating Officer, Projectplace

In the wake of the International Consumer Electronics Show, there is a growing sense of excitement towards how technology will affect the way we work as the year wears on. Technology has already proven to be a disruptive force in how businesses function. Unless they develop a solid understanding of how it changes practices, managers may find it increasingly difficult to help their teams work effectively and complete projects successfully.

Ultimately, technology should be utilised by management to bring the best out in people. Within the context of an always-connected world, it’s time for a social approach that uses systems to empower people – not the other way around. This year, we’ll see a significant increase in mobility, making it necessary for managers to make sure their teams have the tools to enable seamless connectivity. With this in mind, here are the 4 trends that Projectplace predicts will shape the year ahead:

1. True mobility: Access to the cloud through tablet and mobile devices has made mobility a reality, especially with the introduction of BYOD and BYOA in businesses. However, many still need to overcome the challenge of integrating the devices of the workforce and applications with their own systems. This is going to be even more urgent as wearable devices become mainstream in 2015, creating even more complexity.

The Workforce 2020 study predicts that the ability to work at any time and from anywhere is becoming a major factor in the business world. Especially with more millennials joining and shaping the workforce. Companies need to ensure they keep up with the times and provide the technology that their workers need to complete their jobs, and keep their customers happy. If they don’t, they risk losing the loyalty of their customers and even more so, their best talent. Therefore, managers need to choose virtualised tools and systems that are designed to increase agility and accessibility amongst their teams, all while still giving them the control they need to plan and manage their own tasks.

2. The cloud for you: In 2014, we saw the ugly side of cloud as high-profile organisations became victims of major data breaches. Unfortunately, 2015 isn’t looking more hopeful, as a Forrester research report predicts that similar breaches are inevitable over the year to come. The threats have pushed many companies to assess their own approaches to security and the risk factors that the cloud services they use are presenting.

We believe that security is built on three pillars: trust, assurance and the right software. Indeed, not all clouds are created equal when it comes to these pillars. For example, some have flaws waiting to be exploited whilst others lack credible third-party verification. Free collaboration tools and apps are particularly vulnerable to these issues, as we’ve witnessed in recent news. Managers should not be using cloud-based collaboration solutions without exploring how easy or difficult it could be for an unauthorised party to gain access to sensitive data or information. At the very least, they should be choosing a cloud tool that offers two-factor authentication, single sign-on, and encryption.

3. Intelligence on demand: We’re sure you’ll agree that business intelligence is invaluable to your company’s success. But the problem with traditional business intelligence solutions, is that they’re often complex and require specialists to deploy and use. Businesses can’t afford to be held back by these limitations and inflexible systems, so new intelligence models are needed to ensure everyone in the business has access to data when they need it.

On-demand intelligence, as a model, aims to provide usability, collaboration, security and transparency. This in turn reduces management overheads and provides visibility across the organisation, empowering users. The tool of choice for employees, therefore, should be one that focuses on the end-user experience as well as optimal integration. Once you have the technology in place that offers this, you should be able to increase accountability and engagement among users.

4. Make your workspace lean: This has been going on for some years now, and with the UK flexible working legislation coming into play last year, it’s surely set to surge in 2015. Organisations will continue to explore new ways of working to help boost their workers’ productivity – including office designs and collaborative workspaces. The biggest challenge that faces the lean workspace though, is resistance to change, whether that’s from a management level, or existing employees.

Organisational change experts, including Jason Little, call for an agile and lean type of change that always involves the people directly affected by the change in question. They emphasise co-creation among peers rather than changes that come from above, in order to achieve smooth and effective transitions. It’s best that organisations introduce tools and processes that are hassle-free, transparent and have a low-learning curve to achieve their change goals.

The lean workspace is a collaborative one, and it calls for use of innovative technologies to aid a functional work environment. Managers need to combine planning and execution to give teams the tools to self-organise and guide themselves through disruption, without the manager losing overall control.

What do you think 2015 will bring? Now that you’ve read about the four trends we’re keeping an eye on, we’d suggest you and your teams, whether they’re small or large, start getting ready for the year to come!