The Way We'll Work - Future of Work part 4

Posted on: March 26, 2015 by

In 2001, Futurist and Chief Engineer at Google, Ray Kurzweil, predicted we would see 20,000 years of technological change in the space of the next 100 – if anything that was an under-statement. Rapid progress, driven by the four disruptive pillars of cloud, big data, social media and mobile, is radically transforming how we live and work.

So, what will the organizations of the future look like as they are shaped by these technological forces?

We have reached the point where organizations cannot just focus on adopting new digital technologies to thrive in a competitive business landscape – successful organizations will be ones who have built their business model, networks, company culture and customer relationships along digital principles, all underpinned by trust.

Future workplace scenarios

Here I explore three potential future workplace scenarios depicted by PwC and how digital transformation is creating different types of organization to serve the connected consumer.

  1. In the first scenario, large company capitalism would rule, driven by technological breakthroughs and a relentless pressure to perform. Thanks to the advent of cloud technology, we’d increasingly be able to work from any location, accessing our files and systems from anywhere and collaborating more readily with colleagues across the globe. In this scenario, the fight for talent increases, as does data profiling to predict customer trends and the suitability of future employees. This scenario is already in play and forward thinking companies are currently using social technologies to collaborate across multiple functions and locations.
  2. The second scenario suggests that social responsibility would dominate the corporate agenda, driven by a need to use resources in a smarter and more efficient way. This is in part due to customer demands and expectations. Technology and the internet play a critical role in providing total transparency of companies’ impact and ethics. Cyber threats are on the rise, and customers are becomingly increasingly concerned about their personal data and digital security. Trust and compliance will be key to any sustainable business.
  3. The third workplace scenario predicts companies will break down into smaller collaborative networks and specialisation will dominate the world economy. This will be driven by the rise of the ‘portfolio career’ as individuals realise they can enjoy increased flexibility, diversity and autonomy, exploring different professions, rather than sticking to a single career path for the duration of their working years. Living up to customer and employee expectations will be an important driver for any business. The facilitation of open innovation and collaboration will be key, with new dynamic relationships and interactions and a start-up like culture, including idea generation, confidence, risk-taking and humility.

Digital empowerment of customers

In reality, I think we’ll see a mix of all three types of organizations co-existing with the digital empowerment of customers and employees being the central driver for shaping how businesses will re-invent themselves. Another consideration could be the notion of ‘instant start-up companies’, driven by the power of digital, cloud and social media. You could start with just a few people with an idea, and use the web to outsource the rest of the work in an incredibly short space of time, without the need for ‘bricks and mortar’. Almost anything could be dreamed up AND executed!

Businesses need to put on their digitally-tinted glasses and reinvent themselves for an entrepreneurial future.

‘Only you can control your future’ – Dr. Seuss.

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