Business Leadership & Strategy

The Future of Work: Preparing for the New Normal

Future of Work
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We can all acknowledge that the same technologies that are driving digital transformation within organizations are also rapidly transforming work as we know it. Much has been written in the mainstream media about the impact of the cloud, big data analytics, artificial intelligence and robotics on the future job market. But the story isn’t all doom and gloom. In a recent IDC survey, almost half of U.S. organizations surveyed (47%) thought that AI and robotics will have a positive impact on their organization’s jobs in the next 3 years.

The Future of Jobs Report 2018 from the World Economic Forum (WEF) concurs, indicating that increased demand for new roles will offset the decreasing demands for others. The report goes on to say that “new technology adoption drives business growth, new job creation and augmentation of existing jobs.” However, there is a caveat. The WEF warns that “skills gaps – both among workers and among an organization’s senior leadership – may significantly hamper new technology adoption and therefore business growth.”

The Future of Work is Happening Now

It is important to understand that the transformation of work is not occurring in the distant future and is not limited to specific job categories.  Work is no longer constrained by a physical place or specific time of the day. Distributed, empowered teams can access resources and collaborate, effectively and securely. HR departments are beginning to look beyond traditional methods to hire, develop and retain the skill sets required and the workers they need. And those workers will increasingly be both human and machines, as technology is deployed to automate and augment human work, while creating new opportunities for value creation within the organization. Ultimately, today’s organizational models, metrics, technology and culture are challenged by the need for agility and speed. All this translates into what IDC defines as the “Future of Work” (FoW).

IDC’s research shows that 46% of organizations worldwide are making the strategic, organizational, technological, and financial decisions that will set them up to digitally transform their organization in the next several years. However, our future of work study indicates that only one-third of organizations have established a strategy to transform work, supported by an enterprise-wide digital technology platform and long-term capital spending initiatives.

Our IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Future of Work 2019 Predictions forecasts that by 2021, 60% of G2000 companies will have adopted a future-workspace model — a flexible, intelligent, collaborative virtual/physical work environment — to improve employee experience and productivity. By 2023, 30% of these companies will generate at least 20% of their revenue outside their core industries, using crowdsourcing and agile aggregation models to source talent and business capabilities. And by 2024, 50% of structured repeatable tasks will be automated and 20% of workers in knowledge-intensive tasks will have AI-infused software or other digitally connected technology as a “coworker.”

So how should your organization approach work transformation?  What strategies do you need to establish a talented, motivated, agile workforce equipped with best-in-class technologies that together drive competitive advantage?

Introducing IDC’s Future of Work Framework

IDC has developed a holistic integrated approach to the future of work, encompassing three inter-related and inter-connected pillars:

  • The future WorkCulture refers to the distinctive beliefs and values of an organization, talent management practices and how effectively they achieve and retain a highly engaged and motivated workforce that is aligned to corporate strategies and goals. It encompasses development and institutionalization of policies, metrics and key behavioral indicators (KBIs), that are aligned with the FoW vision. Talent sourcing models evolve toward a quicker, virtual, borderless and task-oriented mode.
  • The future WorkSpace is a flexible and highly connected working environment enabling mobility, collaboration and access to the resources that workers need to contribute and innovate, effectively and securely, with speed and ease. Work is less place dependent and time bound, as workers use a mix of physical, digital and immersive technologies to transform any environment into a “WorkSpace”. It is fundamentally people-driven and powered by technology to create experiential work.
  • The future WorkForce refers to the application of intelligent technologies to reshape the way work tasks are performed and by whom (including machines). These technologies augment and automate work while creating new opportunities for value creation within the organization.

IDC’s Future of Work Framework

Future of Work

Source: IDC 2019

Our research shows that almost half of organizations (47%) are putting their greatest focus on WorkCulture, and that dedicated funding for future of work initiatives originates in the human resources organization in almost one-third of those organizations.

Just under one-third of organizations are focusing on WorkSpace and only 22% are focusing on human-machine collaboration – despite the fact that 40% of these companies expect more than a quarter of their workforce to be actively using AI in their daily jobs by 2021.

To further assist organizations in achieving strategic balance between the three future of work pillars, we will be publishing an IDC MaturityScape: The Future of Work in March 2019. The maturity model encompasses WorkCulture, WorkSpace and WorkForce in addition to the strategic vision, innovation and agility required to achieve work transformation. The figure below summarizes the stages of future of work maturity.

IDC MaturityScape: The Future of Work

Future of Work

Source: IDC 2019

A strategy for the future of work must be an integral component of an organization’s overall digital transformation strategy in order to fully realize its value potential. The onus is not only on business leaders to sponsor and support work transformation, but also on individual workers who must take a proactive approach to ongoing learning and agility.

Learn more about how IDC is thinking about the future of work; watch our latest video on re-framing the future of work:

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