Konica Minolta announces ‘Workplace Hub’ intelligent platform for the workplace of the future
Konica Minolta has teamed up with Microsoft, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Sophos, Canonical and BrainTribe to conceive ‘The Workplace Hub’ intelligent IT platform, in a strategic move for the Japanese firm that it believes will “future-proof business IT management”.
The Workplace Hub, an integrated IT solution that unifies all of an organisation’s technology via a single centralised platform, was unveiled during a ‘Future of Work’ event held by Konica Minolta in Berlin this week.
The conference - hosted in a former East German power station sited alongside the city’s central trainline - was attended by press from around the world, who were invited to hear about the company’s vision for the office of the future.
The unprepossessing industrial exterior of the venue, coupled with the day’s cold morning rain, belied its thoroughly modern interior and the future-facing, innovative technology on display therein.
The event opened with an inspiring keynote speech by renowned novelist and artist Douglas Coupland - most famous for coining the phrases ‘Generation X’, ‘McJob’ and ‘Microserfs’ in his novels first published during the mid-1990s - in which he unveiled some uncomfortable, but not necessarily pessimistic, truths about how technology is shaping the way we think, work and live.
“Until recently, the future was something that lay ahead of us. It was something we anticipated and even dreaded,” he said. “But somewhere down the line the present melted into the future and we’re now living inside the future 24/7. It’s what I call the superfuture.”
Accompanying his presentation with a series of bold-colour, observational insights - PowerPoint memes, in a way - Coupland highlighted the way that technology and connectivity are changing traditional working culture, suggesting that we were moving towards a time when jobs and work days are more fluid, creating the feeling of the working week becoming a perpetual ‘Wednesday’, without Monday lows or Friday highs.
Coupland also cautioned that as people find themselves having fewer things to do - which at first glance seems like a good thing - this can quickly turn sour once boredom and apathy kick in.
“Too much free time is a disaster. It’s why we need to rearrange tasks so doing less feels like doing more. This is something we especially need to tackle if eternal life is on the horizon,” he said.
Coupland’s inspiring look at what by some could be perceived as an overly pessimistic future was the perfect introduction to Konica Minolta’s official product launch, conducted by CEO Shoei Yamana, who literally danced onto the stage accompanied by the widest of smiles.
After an excited introduction, Yamana introduced the crowd to the Workplace Hub, ‘the world's most connected intelligent edge platform for the workplace of the future’, and a product that the company hopes will revolutionise business operations.
Given the importance of this concept to the future of the company, this was no ordinary unveiling. The Workplace Edge Hub hardware emerged on a glowing platform, rising out of the floor of the stage in a cloud of dry ice. When the mist cleared, the audience were left staring at a sleek, futuristic design which wouldn’t look out of place on board the Star Trek Enterprise.
It might seem silly to say that the product looks ‘futuristic’; of course, no one really knows what the future looks like. The Workplace Hub is designed to be a significant step in that direction, as it is equipped to integrate with new artificial intelligence advances as they become more available.
“The workplace is evolving at an unparalleled rate and digital transformation is becoming increasingly important to both survival and future prosperity,” said Yamana.
“Workplace Hub not only allows businesses of all sizes to achieve effective transformation, but to future-proof themselves against the next wave of technology innovations already infiltrating the business environment.”
Version one of Workplace Hub, which will be available in autumn 2017, acts as a central hub that simplifies IT systems within businesses. The product is designed to reduce the overall costs of IT management and service provision and provide real-time data-driven insights to improve business processes.
This new platform represents the next phase of Konica Minolta’s long history of innovation, positioning the company within the IT services market, where it hopes to provide applications to meet the evolving needs of business customers.
The Workplace Hub will be the first of a series of platforms which Dennis Curry, director of business innovation at Konica Minolta, says will evolve to become the most comprehensive platform for the services and capabilities demanded by the workplace of the future.
“It simplifies IT operations today and paves the way for exciting new integrations, such as AI and intelligent edge computing, to become a central part of the digital organisation of the future,” Curry said.
“It means businesses can grow and manage their IT in tandem with changing business needs.”
This strategic shift will allow Konica Minolta to deliver more comprehensive digital transformation solutions, while continuing its heritage of providing the very best products and services for the business market as a whole.
Workplace Hub Fact Sheet
Workplace Hub is a next generation IT management solution that unifies all your existing technologies; integrating hardware, software and services into a multi-vendor, one-stop single platform
Workplace Hub is built to be flexible, seamlessly configuring IT systems, devices and software into a single, common language
Workplace Hub is future proofed for businesses that want their technology to grow with them, and it’s also geared towards enterprises that are looking for a common platform to enable more efficient and effective management of the array of disparate tools, services and devices in their organisation
Workplace Hub directly addresses growing IT complexity by providing more efficient and effective management of the disparate array of tools, services and devices used by modern organisations
Workplace Hub version 1.0 will be available from October 2017. It is a platform that has transformed the 1m by 1m space where an MFP traditionally sits, to creating a centralised IT platform. It is the world's first intelligent edge device.
Workplace Edge sees the platform delivered via a stand-alone device or as a rack to be integrated with an organisations server stack
Our strategic partners for launch include HPE, Sophos and Microsoft, providing users with best in class hardware, security and IT services
Other partners, including Canonical and BrainTribe, are bringing the power of open source and advanced data management to facilitate effective digital transformation
Access to online software and IT services is via the Konica Minolta Marketplace, a business application store for Workplace Hub users, which allows small to medium sized businesses to optimise their IT spend, transforming IT from a cost centre to a competitive advantage
The one single view of the IT estate, provided by the Workplace Hub dashboard, allows 360 degree visibility of usage patterns, allowing easy optimisation that impacts both operational efficiency and the bottom line
In a competitive market, Workplace Hub automates mundane IT processes, freeing up IT managers to focus on deploying technology to add real business value
The launch of Workplace Hub represents the next step in Konica Minolta’s long history of innovation, marking our position in the IT services space and perfectly placing us to meet the evolving needs of business customers
Workplace Hub Portfolio Extension
Beyond Workplace Hub v.1, the product category road map will evolve to become the most comprehensive platform for services and capabilities demanded by the workplace of the future
The evolution of the Workplace Hub offering sees it integrate IoT, AI, Intelligent Edge and Decision Support capabilities to become the heart of the digital organisation
Workplace Hub will deploy AI to work with people rather than replace them, delivering critical real-time contextual information in a way that enhances human performance
Using AI, Workplace Hub leverages both collective company wisdom and external data to make the work of individuals, teams, and businesses easier and more efficient
Timelines for launch
Workplace Hub (v1.0)
Coming Autumn 2017
Coming Spring 2018
Workplace Edge (Rack)
Coming Autumn 2017