Over the next decade digital technologies will redefine how enterprises and individuals get things done.
If the industrial revolution shaped the traditional structure of the enterprise, then the digital revolution will redefine its future. Organisations were traditionally structured to coordinate production on a huge scale and built around the resources of an onsite, fulltime workforce.
Today the way we work is becoming more flexible and more globally distributed. And that has a lot to do with the mobile, cloud and social technologies that enable people to do their jobs easily and intuitively without needing to work from a set location.
The flexible workforce
Millennials are now the dominant demographic in the workplace and this is a generation that wants to make a difference. Work to them is no longer a place, but a goal, vision and deliverable. Empowering this will be incredibly important. At the other end of the workforce there are Baby Boomers keen to continue contributing to the economy past retirement. And in the middle there are parents eager to remain in the workplace while raising a family, and children trying to care for elderly parents while still earning a living.
At the same time enterprises are looking for ways to become more nimble to compete with disruptive startups. In order to do this they need the agility to trial innovative projects and test new products and services without necessarily taking on talent on a fulltime basis. These two trends are complementary and will continue moving the enterprise towards a more flexible staffing model.
The software-defined workforce
The typical structure of employing full-time workers will become outdated. Businesses will increasingly need to experiment with innovative new projects to remain competitive, but they may not necessarily have the in-house talent to support these. Hiring new people for projects that may or may not succeed, however, is expensive. Five years from now, we could be looking at enterprise software that defines processes, then taps into global talent pools to find relevant resources for one-off projects. The software would not only securely match people with the capacity and expertise to particular projects – it would on board and train them in the process.
The functional workforce
The traditional command and control org chart will lose out to companies with functional teams. Over the next decade the old-fashioned method of coordinating production – sending a message up, horizontally and back down to unlock resources – will be replaced by businesses that broaden their teams as and when they need to. Examples of this are already in place. There are healthcare apps, for instance, that are integrated into to the emergency services network. If someone has a heart attack, not only can paramedics be dispatched, but anyone trained in CPR in near proximity will receive a notification of how and where they can help.
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