Two major digital trends in the workplace are changing the way we work, and enabling the millennial workforce in ways we have never seen before. The first trend is what I call the “app-itization” of the tools and platforms we all use, including SaaS solutions. The second is workforce automation, which in the next 10 to 15 years will change the way we work by automating “learnable” repetitive tasks.
The app-itization environment has been upon us for a few years. At dPrism, we work in a 100 percent SaaS/app environment. We don’t own or rent a server or any cloud infrastructure; we run completely on solutions provided, including storage, functionality and collaboration. Our accountants use Quickbooks online, and I can go see our financial status anytime. We use Slack for collaboration, Pipedrive for business development, Smartsheet for project management, ClickTime for time management and many more. (Here is a link to a recent blog post with more info on our stack, and another on cloud-based tools we are looking for.)
The millennial worker expects to be able to select and use his or her own tools, and will be bringing this mindset to the workplace. Fifteen years ago, most companies had hardware standards for devices. This has largely gone by the wayside today, and I predict the same will happen to software. In environments in which collaboration or shared data is used, the solutions today force the team to be on the same platform. We can get an idea of how this will change in the next few years through good interoperability tools like Zapier.
Workforce automation is a newer phenomenon. The combination of three trends (Machine Learning, Big Data and Automation Technologies/Platforms) was at the forefront, and today we see many high-volume repetitive tasks are either largely or completely automated. Chat bots are gaining popularity as they are more cost-efficient and effective in many circumstances. Processes like new customer verification, customer service and general provisioning are heading in this direction. My guess is by the year 2030, 80 percent of the current work tasks will be automated, leaving the workforce to significantly expand the remaining 20 percent of “smart work.” If history is relevant to this shift, this won’t mean an 80 percent loss of work; rather, the 20 percent will grow by 4x or more and in the end the workforce will expand. However, the type of work will need retraining and retooling.
For our clients who have successfully transformed their external-facing, customer capabilities, these trends are now becoming the next frontier. Both the app-itization and workforce automation are topics we are seeing in the forward-looking strategic plans of the “already digitally transformed.” Often these are hiding behind broader efficiency goals or internal capability goals. For a workforce of 500, 1,000 or even 5,000+ these are not easy transformations to achieve—however, they can be implemented. Some examples include: a large financial institution that has automated its new customer onboarding, and a large publisher that is well underway in the app-itization journey.
Successful implementation takes commitment to the process and, often, an experienced partner to help guide you through.
How are you preparing for the workplace of the future?