Remember that 70’s movie “Logan’s Run” when, in the 23rd century, the population and the consumption of resources are maintained in equilibrium by killing everyone who reaches the age of 30? They found a simple fix to solve their problems. Today, we seem to be entering a similar situation with employment and intelligent automation: why not just retire everyone at 40 to protect those valuable employment resources? It sounds far easier than building a ridiculously long wall or pretending all these magical new jobs will appear from nowhere in a couple of years…
Everyone, seemingly, is obsessing with the current swirl of anxiety infecting our whole career outlook, with relentless discussions raising our stress levels as we figure out how to “adapt” ourselves to a world where bots are going to do so much of our work at some indefinable moment in the future.
It’s just not cool to be normal anymore…
Whether we’re mindlessly getting our hourly endorphin rush from those lovely social media sites that keep pulling us in, or dozing through yet another mind-numbing panel on the “impact of intelligent automation” at some horrendous conference we just had to go to (listening to people who previously had nothing to do with “automation” and have since become overnight luminaries), or simply chatting with colleagues in the office… there is now a constant angst that the world is becoming a digitally-scary place, and the only way to deal with it is to keep trying to learn more and keep talking to colleagues and peers in other firms about how to get ahead of this. Suddenly, we have become disposable assets and we need to keep reinventing ourselves to keep sounding like we’re up on all the new stuff. Suddenly, we live in a world where everyone else is about to be transported to the scrapheap of legacy professionals who can’t be retrained to do anything meaningful anymore.
The current swirl of hype is driving a new behavior and energy: more partnering, knowledge sharing… and an obsessive curiosity about the future
We are subjected to a constant barrage of articles, some lamenting our woes and talking about desperate measures like a universal basic wage (Karl Marx would be impressed), and we are increasingly being subjected to declarations of unbridled optimism, where jobs will be miraculously created as a result of these incredible advances in artificial intelligence (which rarely have any sensible facts to prove the philosophies, they just spout some big theory and then the talk track fizzles out somewhere… you know them well by now I hope!). However which way we look at this, the real answer is that we simply don’t actually know what the future has in store for our careers, our companies, our economies, politics and our children, but what we can do is keep understanding the facts and keep sharing knowledge with other like-minded people… and the future will unravel before our eyes as we keep trying to make sense of it all.
OK that’s enough of a philosophical discussion for a Monday. Let’s look at some actual new data to understand what skills our enterprise leaders are looking for today – our new study on Intelligent Operations, conducted with the support of Accenture, which covers the views and dynamics of 460 global 2000 operations leaders, gives us some real insight into this shift towards the creative, curious types, with a thirst to learn and an obsession with networking and partnering:
The focus heavily shifting to dynamic individuals who understand how to define outcomes and work to align their business operations with them
So if we’re one of these obsessively socially curious animals with a penchant for constantly knowledging-up on all the cool new stuff – and we love to talk partnerships with other companies in our network, the near future is actually pretty encouraging for us: our skillset now tops the list for what global 2000 leaders are looking. Leadership is under intense pressure to change the norm, to align their operations with the direction their customers are taking them. The wonks who spend all day staring at spreadsheets, focused on execution “left-brained” activities are less in demand – they need to learn how to wrap the needs of the business into broader processes that can cater to customers and support management decisions in real-time. Essentially, if your operations are not in sync with the customer-driven front office, you will likely fail.
Yes, it’s the people who connect the front office to the back are the ones emerging from this maelstrom of noise, angst and uncertainty. This is why we have developed the Digital OneOffice Framework, where teams function autonomously across front, middle and back office functions to promote broader processes with real-time data flows that support rapid decision making, based on meeting these defined outcomes. Hence, emerging technologies like automation and AI are significant enablers in helping enterprises meet their ultimate goals, where front, middle and back offices will cease to exist: they will be, simply, OneOffice:
The Bottom-line: This is the new normal – leaving our comfort zones and getting out there to make stuff happen
It really is as simple as that – we’re all leaving that big comfortable world where all you had to do was turn up for work, do the same routine activities each day, go to the same mundane meetings and keep the lights on. We all know those days are leaving us behind, and if you’re under the age of 55, it’s unlikely you can plot that sneaky escape to early retirement… we’re living in a world where we need to learn about new technologies (you don’t need to code anymore), we need to share experiences and use cases with peers across the industry, and we need to reach outside of our cosy internal networks to talk through smart partnerships with tech firms, supply chain partners, customers etc.
You only have to look at the reason 200 executives showed up at the HfS FORA Summit in New York last month to understand motivations have changed in an anonymous poll: they are going out to get educated and share experiences with peers. The days where conferences were all about job hopping are over – it’s more about how to stay relevant and ahead of the game.:
In essence, there is no written rulebook where this all leads – the world has become an uncertain place politically and we have yet to experience an economic downturn for many years. However, what is clear is sitting in a quiet office all day staring at your email is unlikely going to get you where you need to go next in your career. This is the age of getting networked, getting smart and learning from collective experiences. The only comfort zone is the one you make for yourself – being comfortable with the impact of change agent technologies and the experiences you can have working with them.