Digital Transformation

Three Essential Steps for the Workforce of the Future

Ralph Welborn, Ph.D., Managing Partner, ClearPrism

Andrew Johnson

Director Of Business Development, ClearPrism

When we think about the workforce of the future, one of the first things that often comes to mind is the need for modern user experiences that give employees the same ease of use and convenience that we expect as consumers. This can help to increase productivity as well as employee morale and levels of engagement.

Conversely, many studies have shown that employees are more likely to be frustrated and even to leave their jobs if their organizations are technology laggards and have outdated devices, applications and processes. As an example, a recent global study from Unisys found that “workers at “technology laggard” organizations are more than 500% more likely to be frustrated and 600% more likely to want to quit when they work with outdated technology.

So, beyond satisfying employees with modern digital experiences with the latest devices and applications, what else is needed to develop and retain the workforce of the future?

Here’s 3 essential steps which will help you transform your organization – across people, process and technology – to prepare for the future of work:

1 – Digitally re-design your core internal processes for efficiency and effectiveness

Beyond simply updating employee devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptops, or expanding bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, organizations need to think about the overall tasks their employees are performing and how to modernize and streamline these end-to-end activities.

It’s often the applications and processes that need to be modernized and streamlined as well as the devices. In addition, simply conducting the same process steps on modern devices such as smartphones or tablets may do little to digitally re-design and simplify the process.

This is where your digital transformation strategy needs to be applied for the benefit of the employee as well as the customer. Determine which internal tasks and processes can be digitally re-designed from the ground up to make them more streamlined, efficient and effective. Prioritize these tasks and processes by looking at which currently experience the most issues, bottlenecks and inefficiencies in execution and even which experience the most complaints from employees.

2 – Develop a strategy for human-machine collaboration across each of your core processes

For the workforce, AI can be both a challenge and an opportunity. The Unisys study found that while 36% of workers believed that AI had the most potential to improve their working environment over the next five years, only 22% of respondents said they understood AI well. 44% of respondents working for technology leaders also felt their jobs could be obsolete in five years and done entirely by machines.

It’s therefore important to think about the future role of workers and machines. By “machines”, we’re talking about the full spectrum of both physical machines such as industrial robotics, autonomous vehicles and drones as well as virtual machines such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation.

Strategically, what does the division of labor look like between humans and machines for each of the core processes across your enterprise? What new skills are required in your workforce and what new technologies – including AI, RPA and other enablers – are required to support them?

To develop a strategy and approach for mapping the division of labor, it can be useful to have a framework such as the human-machine virtual-physical matrix which can help you decide which specific technologies can be pared with which specific human tasks and how the two might interact. For example, is this task completed by a physical employee working with a virtual machine (e.g. a worker performing “vision picking” using smart glasses in a warehouse environment) or vice versa (e.g. a doctor performing telepresence surgery from a remote location).

3 – Envision the future skills needed by your workforce

There are now a rich set of future skills in which to specialize for those entering, or already working in, the IT arena. Whether it’s a focus on specific technology enablers such as AI, RPA or the IoT, or a focus on specific techniques such as agile and DevOps, these skills will become more and more critical in the years ahead as organizations invest in scaling up their digital transformation initiatives.

These organizations will look to IT professionals to provide compelling, differentiated solutions that enhance the digital customer experience, improve operations, and which can be designed and deployed in an agile manner.

Since business and IT strategy will determine and drive these future skill requirements, capabilities in strategic planning, innovation management, enterprise architecture, program management, and change management will also be essential to pull everything together and execute on the overall transformation.

IT professionals will be able to choose whether to go deep in terms of specializing in a specific technology or capability, or whether to go wide in terms of specializing in the broader perspective of how all these elements come together from a strategy and execution standpoint to enable the next generation of digital business solutions.

Finally, with so much change occurring in the workplace in terms of new devices, applications, processes and increasing human-machine collaboration and cooperation, it will be vital to put in place robust change management, communication and governance processes to help your workforce make the transition and find their new roles in the workforce of the future.

It is these perennial capabilities such as change management and governance that will likely be the keys to success in making the transition to the workforce of the future and the difference between the digital leaders and laggards.

If you’re curious as to why ClearPrism as opposed to the larger management consultancies? Our philosophy is that if you’re interested in generating real results quickly, we believe that you don’t have to hire fifty people to get to the five or so smart people that actually perform the work. Just hire those five smart people directly and we’ll help you orchestrate to turn digital transformation requirements and expectations into reality.

Have any questions or want to know more? Let us know or give us a call right now.

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