A future of work

Dell and Intel asked one consulting group to think about the future of technology work.  The results, “The Evolving Workforce”, are interesting as a trends analysis.

TNS identified seven trends:

Crowdsourcing and Crowdsource service: The workforce of the future, for many industries, could be thousands of people working in different places. Is Cloud computing and other information and communications technology (ICT) applications going to make it easier to distribute more tasks and adhere to a ‘just in time’ labor force model?

Productivity measured in outputs, not hours: Standardized measures of productivity based on numbers of hours inputted would become less relevant in a knowledge based economy. What are going to be the new metrics to assess productivity?

Changes in adoption of devices: The number and types of devices and operating systems are proliferating and changing. Choice of device would become more about the situation, location and occasion. Are employers and the current systems and processes going to allow for increased end-user utility and choice?

Intergenerational kiss and punch: There will be more intergenerational knowledge transfer between younger ‘digital natives’ and the older generation. However, is there an increased risk of conflict and tension between workers of different ages, backgrounds, knowledge and skills?

Values versus rules: It would become easier to tell what employees are doing, but harder to tell them what to do. In this scenario, would employers use pervasive technology to oversee their workforces at any given time? And if so, would distrust of employers accelerate?

Many hats of the IT manager: As employee aspirations change to a greater onus on happiness, autonomy and choice, workplace IT would be one way of recruiting and retaining staff. Will the job of the IT manager increasingly align to the HR department?

Employee-led innovation: The business software of the future will be adopted and increasingly be designed by employees rather than management or the IT department. Are we going to see more networked, de-centralized organizations to facilitate this shifting corporate hierarchy?

A fascinating mix.  Note how many of these are about workplace tensions, either generational or organizational.  Technology is less a driver than are social and political factors.

Some of these trends cover multiple points.  “Values”, for instance, seems to really be about data and privacy.

The report appends a very short case study to each one.  My favorite is about generational differences:

Lloyds of London has moved from a paper-based system for creating, maintaining and updating client contracts to a tablet-based system. However, a significant level of resistance was encountered from some brokers. A solution that employs software that imitates the look and feel of the old paper-based system has now been rolled out. This has been received positively from the brokers.

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