How Everything Is Becoming Digital: And What Businesses Need To Do – Forbes
The world of work is undergoing radical change. Business has become a real-time experience, we deal with a relentless stream of messages and communications, and we operate in a network of teams. The traditional top-down hierarchy is rapidly going away as young professionals demand more opportunity, leadership, and responsibility. Technology has become an every-day part of our lives, and we often feel a bit overwhelmed by it. (Should I check my email? Facebook? Twitter feed? Instagram? Or LinkedIn? Where should I post that great picture I just took? Who are all these âfriendsâ who want to connect with me? How does Snapchat work anyway?)
For investors and executives, business models are being disrupted everywhere. Automobile companies may become transportation service providers; hotel and hospitality companies compete with home sharing and food delivery services; companies that sell commodities like electric light bulbs and thermostats want to sell home services; and companies that used to sell software and technology products want to move to subscription models.
Our digital business research with MIT showed that 70% of CEOs believe their core business model is under attack, and 90% of them also believe they do not yet have the right leadership team or technical skills to adapt. I just met with the CEO of one of the largest providers of job market analytics and he told me that the hot jobs of the future do not just require new skills (like cybersecurity, IOT engineering, mobile apps), they require âhybrid skills,â or an interdisciplinary set of capabilities. Software engineers should understand many parts of the stack as well as design and data management. Sales people should understand business models and technology as well as sales and relationship building skills. Product managers should understand market segmentation, product strategy, engineering, and technology. And the list goes on and on.
One of the loudest discussions in the world is the âFuture of Work.â As I discuss in our predictions report and the speech I gave this summer, the Future of Work is not a story of artificial intelligence and robotics. Rather itâs a story about how we make jobs âmore humanâ and take advantage of the âessential human skillsâ we need in business. Every one of us should learn how to augment our performance with technology (and yes, some of the technology will be very smart), but then add human elements to the work to help provide higher levels of customer value and service.
“Future of Work” Keynote, Delivered at Singularity University Global Summit
Starbucks, Peetâs, or Philz Coffee, for example, could easily choose to automate the coffee shop so you speak to a robot and your coffee drink is perfectly designed and built, offered by the machine, in a fraction of the time we spend waiting in line. But would that make it fun and enjoyable to buy coffee? Not necessarily, so the design challenge is how to effectively apply technology to the coffee and barista experience to make jobs easier for employees and even more fun and interesting to customers. (McDonaldâs is experimenting with automated ordering machines in the restaurants, but they are supplemented with people who deliver the food and talk with you, so this is an example of âaugmentationâ not âreplacement.â)
While all this is going on, companies and organizations are going through a sweeping set of changes. As I discuss in the report, business and HR executives are struggling with a wide set of issues, as organizations themselves become more âdigitalâ (real-time, agile, experimental, and customer and employee focused). We are trying to restructure around teams, focus on the employee experience and drive a strong, well aligned culture; we are rapidly redefining what âperformance meansâ and how we manage and measure it; we are looking for new ways to manage careers and talent mobility; and we are becoming hyper focused on diversity, inclusion, wellness, and new ways to improve productivity in the office (oh yes, the âofficeâ itself has changed an awful lot too).
Over the last 14 years as I write this predictions report, I sit down in the Fall and think about all the research, client meetings, and vendors I have talked with. This year, perhaps like never before, I see a set of technology, workforce, and business changes pointing to a clear direction for the future. We are rebuilding companies into âdigital organizations:â businesses that empower people to use their skills and leverage their best capabilities, breaking down the traditional âjob descriptionâ and upward career model, using data and culture as tools to build alignment and coordination.