Jim Taggart has published an updated version of his May 2011 e-book “Workforce of the Future: Building Change Adaptability.” The e-book begins with a brief overview of the global context within which organizations will operate in the years ahead. He also highlights the following trends that will have noticeable impacts. Drawing from his own experience, he has concluded that the workforce of the future will be significantly influenced and shaped by following elements: Competencies, Continuous Learning, Knowledge, Collaboration, Project Work, Diversity, Leadership, Social Media, Work Structure, and Organization Structure.
After reading his article, several thoughts of mine emerged. Here are my takeaways from Jim’s article on how the workforce of the future will impact the field of IT, and vice-versa:
From the people perspective, I think the continual effort of aligning and integrating IT with the business is given. More than ever, it is the relationship and trust that will ensure the alignment and integration will happen as intended. Successful IT initiatives require collaboration. Effective collaboration is only possible with trust. Successful IT initiatives also require information sharing from the business. Getting the proper perspectives via business analysis is feasible only when trust and relationships exist between business and IT.
Many business initiatives are also change management efforts. One hang-up often discussed has to do with resistance from the employees. I believe people resist changes not because they don’t understand the changes can be beneficial, but because they feel the changes have more negative impacts on them than anyone else. I think IT has a valuable opportunity here to help employees and organizations overcome resistance by leveraging technology to make changes more productive and beneficial to the employees. Change management efforts also can be looked at as the “programming” exercises of an organization. By understanding how the organization works, IT can serve as the “programming language” which further enhances the organization’s effectiveness in Collaboration, Project Work, Diversity, and Leadership.
From the technology perspective, IT will need to continue to support a fluid workforce. We, the IT professionals, need to make technologies even easier and productive for the end users to work with, to serve the organization’s business needs while protecting the organization’s best interests. IT can empower end-users to be innovators for the business by opening up new technological doors for them. Jim has mentioned the elements of Competencies, Continuous Learning, Knowledge, Collaboration, and Social Media, and technologies have made large strides in all those areas. In IT, we have been taught to put a great deal of emphasis using the business perspective. While I can certainly understand people’s position when they advocate that IT has to be about the business and not about technology, I am also fully in the camp of “IT is all about the business, by way of technology.”
From the process perspective, I believe that IT must continue to think standardization and integration. By being the steward of the company’s information resources, IT is also uniquely qualified to bring the resources together, to do something with them, and to make the resources even more useful for the entire organization. Standardization and integration are not just for linking systems. They also can help in the business decision-making process. The Master Data Management practice, or single view of customer/product, is just one example of such standardization and integration effort. Furthermore, IT’s ability to foster standardization and integration give companies an even better capability and flexibility to structure the work and the organization to meet the demands from the workplace of the future.
In conclusion, I am in agreement with Jim on his proposed agenda for the workplace of the future. Based on my personal experience working in IT for the last 25 years, it was not difficult for me to draw the similar conclusions. The advancement in technology has accelerated the globalization trend and continued to introduce changes to our workplace non-stop. I think that, more than ever, the workers of today and the future will have to leverage those workplace elements to their own advantage and develop career resilience, rather than expecting the organizations to look after the workers.