We hear more and more today about the “digital workforce” and the implications for the future of business. What exactly is the DW and what does it mean for your organization? One credible resource puts it this way: “The digital workplace is the collection of all of the digital tools provided by an organization to allow its employees to do their jobs.” Okay, so when we talk about digital tools – we have in mind access devices (think Android, iPhone, tablets, etc.); communications infrastructure to support voice, video, and data capabilities; and telecommunications & collaboration tools for real-time presence like audio, video, and web-conferencing; not to mention the cybersecurity network that keeps it all protected. In other words, when we think of the digital workforce we should have in mind this rich set of tools and resources at our disposal that are emblems of the digital age – most of which emerged in just the past few years.
And the landscape is changing so fast! Not only do we see this massive influx of exciting new tools and resources. But there are rapid advances in emerging technologies that are transforming, disrupting, and even threatening the future of work as we know it. If you look at what’s happened since the release of the iPhone in 2007 just a mere 7 years ago then you have to wonder what the 2020 workplace will look like – especially as mobile, cloud, big data, and social-collaboration trends continue to accelerate at breakneck speed!
Several potentially scary trends related to job automation should be a wakeup call to the emerging digital workplace. Research shows, for example, that many CEOs are underestimating the systemic and deep impact that smart machines will have through 2020, as well as the potential for them to replace millions of middle-class jobs in the decades to come. Gartner is even saying that “the smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT.” The tech research company is also currently projecting that 2015 is a benchmark year, or the time when companies need to start introducing policies and programs for a “digital workforce” in order to stay in the top quartile of productivity by 2020.
Business owners and leaders will need to be on top of their game when it comes to understanding these trends. And smart machines will have to be matched by ‘smart businesses’ that know how to compete and stay innovative in the future when digital technologies and automation become even more ubiquitous and start to dominate the workplace.
But what’s more is that organizations will have to prepare their employees to stay ahead of the curve. They must be equipped to not only attract top talent, but retool and retrain their existing talent. Ongoing learning and training will become more relevant than ever in the digital workforce of the 21st century.
So the bottom line is this: Do you have the skills to stay relevant in this matrix of innovation and transformation? And if not, how do you prepare for the inevitable? It’s a very important and relevant topic. Join us back here tomorrow for a rundown of what it’s going to take to keep ahead of the tsunami of rapid technological change that will sweep the globe during the next decade.