Recently, I had the privilege to speak at my alma mater, Dublin City University, and at the Dublin Tech Summit. I was excited to come home, of course. But I was also thrilled to present about how technology shapes our work today and to share Citrix’s vision for the future of work.

I saw the future of work in the students at DCU and in the innovators at the Dublin Tech Summit and the Silicon Docks. They’re adopting an any-location, any-device style of work. They’re demanding user-friendly, cloud-based technologies. They’re helping to drive a shift to user-centric solutions that empower and engage and that help them be more productive

But here’s the problem: Many companies aren’t equipped to respond to this future. Yes, there is massive digital transformation afoot, and organizations are evolving at an astounding pace. The swath of new technologies they’re adopting is a clear signal of this. But in their transformations, they often create layers of systems that are incompatible or just too complex to deliver value. They build technical debt that shifts focus to maintenance instead of innovation. And the myriad SaaS, web, and mobile apps lead to technology management challenges for IT departments and to roadblocks to end-user productivity.

Employee Experience Will Drive Competitive Advantage

The future of work is one in which employee experience and the technologies that support it, like intelligent workspaces, will drive your competitive advantage. Employees today deal with as many as 11 different apps a day to get their work done. And most of the app functionality goes unused or even makes tasks more difficult as employees spend too much time — almost 10 hours a week — searching for the information they need. The overload and complexity hinder employee experience and lead to low levels of employee engagement. That must change.

Make no mistake, improving employee experience is hard work, but you ignore it at your own peril. There’s already a war for skilled talent, and it’s only going to get fiercer as older workers leave the workforce, and freelancers, consultants, and part-time workers, who prefer a mobile, anywhere, anytime work style, make up more and more of the labor pool. By 2030, you can expect a global talent shortage of 85 million workers, so you’ll have to fight harder to attract and retain people.

Companies that get employee experience right will have the advantage. They will innovate, lead, and last. The proof is already there: Organizations with high levels of employee engagement report 20 percent greater productivity and 21 percent higher profitability.

Intelligent Workspaces and the Future of Work

As organizations, we already do well at organizing work so that we understand the tasks that need to get done as part of our daily activities. The intelligent workspace will help us go beyond that and have a direct impact on employee experience. The future of work is one in which these workspaces use machine learning to guide what we do, simplifying workflows and predicting and presenting tasks so we can focus on work that advances our organization and not on finding what we need six clicks deep into an application. The future of work is one in which our intelligent workspaces automate and optimize these tasks, handing them off to virtual assistants that execute them on our behalf, enabling us to focus on high-value work.

At Citrix, we are delivering technologies that empower employees to work how they want while helping companies manage ever-increasing IT complexity and implement broad digital transformation. We envision a future where technology enables and doesn’t impede, where we’ve shifted the focus of the workday from applications that aggravate to actions that matter, and where analytics drive employee productivity. This is a future that engages the entire organization, from IT and human resources to facilities and finance, to improve the employee experience. This is a future without constraints, where a company’s most valuable asset is its human capital and employees can accomplish amazing things.