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As technology grows and evolves, so does the way in which we work and do business. Tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices keep us constantly tethered to the Internet and one another. But how this affects the way business gets done – both inside the enterprise with employees, and outside with customers – is not yet fully understood. Organizations are rethinking the way they’re structured, breaking down traditional silos in favor of productivity and collaboration. They’re also rapidly trying to keep up with today’s demanding customers, to communicate where, when, and how they want, at exactly the right time. In short – the market is forcing business to be more social.
In order to re-imagine what the future of work looks like, IBM has been collaborating with top external thought leaders in the #NewWayToWork Futurist program. Futurists selected for the program are experts in their topic areas, have a strong social presence and regularly create and curate forward-thinking content around social business. Their unique perspectives and the strong relationships they’ve developed with each other has moved the needle forward for the program and the broader conversation.
So what does the future hold? How will things unfold for businesses in this ever-connected world? Here are a few of their insights:
Workforce Roles: Physical vs. Virtual Collaboration
“We can FaceTime … we can Skype. There’s a way to stay connected with people that adds to the digital-only interaction. While I firmly believe you can become friends and close confidants with people using only digital means, when you’re talking about your workforce, there needs to be another level of connectedness.” – Jay Kuhns @jrkuhns
While advances in collaboration technologies are taking place, there still needs to be a focus on human-to-human relationships. Jay Kuhns is the Vice President of Operations and Healthcare Strategy at Kinetix. He explains that as we begin to experience shifts in the way we work, it’s important to keep the workforce feeling connected. Technology by itself won’t solve anything if you aren’t providing opportunities to engage each other on a personal basis, especially when working remotely.
“The fastest way to dishearten human beings is to make them feel insignificant. They want to have meaning.” – Denise Holt @DeniseHolt1
Feeling significant makes people feel they’re having a real impact, not only on work but also on their environment as a whole. Denise Holt is the CEO of Collaborative IQ and a leading voice in Social Media Strategy and Social Intelligence Solutions.
She points out that while it’s true that people are competing in the workplace, in the future they will still want to have human connections with one another. Moreover, there is a strong need to connect through both virtual and physical collaboration.
“What we’re seeing with millennials is an interest in being able to be anywhere [and] have the flexibility to work at any time, and mobile technology certainly helps with that. But it’s wrapped around security as well as just access to material.” – Shawn Murphy @TheShawnMurphy
Employees desire flexible workspaces through mobile, BYOD and co-working locations. Futurists agree that use of the cloud will continue to rise, but Shawn Murphy, CEO and Co-Founder of Switch & Shift, points out that security will remain a primary concern in the future.
“In a future with so many remote employees, it’s very important that companies hold a space for creative work areas, creative retreats, mindset, implementation and positive psychology, all of which can happen in creative work spaces.” – Ashley Stahl @AshleyStahl
Ashley Stahl is a leading career coach to Gen Y and a Forbes columnist. She explains that as the remote working trend grows, there will be some shifts in regard to collaboration. There will be more co-working spaces, people will connect outside the traditional four walls of the office, and collaborative technologies will enable this to take place.
“There will be more artificial intelligence in the future, where data is received from a device you’re wearing. It’s like the Internet of Things; it learns from you and makes your life easier.” – Marsha Collier @MarshaCollier
Technology has become more compact through nanotechnology, resulting in aspects of our lives being captured that simply weren’t transparent in the past. Marsha Collier, who is the author of 48 books and a Forbes Top 10 Women Social Media Influencer, explains that an artificial intelligence-like trend, where data is received from email, may be incorporated in the future.
She explains that if you apply this same level of personalized analytics to how we work, that could open up total transparency into the workplace environment as well, as we understand how we work as never before — and leverage that information.
For more insights and predictions from our futurists, go to www.ibm.com/FutureofWork.
Meet the Futurists: We celebrate the top talent and amazing thinkers in our #NewWayToWork Futurist program. Meet them all in the infographic here, and subscribe to our Twitter list to follow the social conversation.