Let’s rewind two centuries, shall we? For the past 200 years only hazardous, messy and lousy jobs were automated. Fast forward to today and we’re witnessing the automation of more sophisticated knowledge work. 47% of all jobs in the US, and 33% of those in Europe, are at very likely to be replaced by technology within the next twenty years, according to research by Oxford University. Why? We are now in the midst of the “5 mega trends”: big data; always connected mobile devices; social networking; cloud computing and Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

These 5 mega trends are rewriting both the definition of work and its level of augmentation and call for an innovation of our approaches to talent management and development. That latter is not in scope for this week’s blog. The rewriting of work is.

Hello information generation

The EMC Corporation, in collaboration with the Institute for theFuture, is generating fresh knowledge on the changes the information generation is driving within businesses. Business leaders report that, for their organizations, the most important applications of new technologies (cloud computing, mobile devices, data analytics and social media) are to:

- predictively spot new opportunities (60%)

- demonstrate transparency and trust (56%)

- and innovate in an agile way (55%).

This will allow businesses to survive, no to thrive in the next decade. However positive these possibilities of the five mega trends may be, they simultaneously pose deep questions about the augmentation and automation of jobs and roles. For instance. Which roles in the organisation can, and should be automated? Based on the classification of routine/non-routine and manual/analytical, which roles in the organisation are likely to be automated in the coming years? What emphasis does the organisation currently place on the uniquely human skills of creativity, innovation and experimentation? Which roles require the greatest use of these uniquely human skills? Which processes can be removed or changed in order to provide people with more time and space for creativity, innovation and reflection? How much time do your key and critical employees have available for focus, deceleration and deep attention? How does the organization support people to build skills that will enable transitions?

Here come the machines

Taking into account that I’m a techno-optimist, this video has been a true wake-up call for me. The machines in this Amazon warehouse are under no central human influence whatsoever. They reprogram themselves and their environment to enable a level of fluidity in the warehouse that no human can match. This is what we can expect across many, many more industries.


Here be humans

We’re entering one of the most interesting decades in our history. “May you live an interesting life” is a blessing in the West, and a curse in China: maybe the next ten years are going to be a bit of both.

How are you stacking up? How are you developing yourself to
become future-proof in the new world of work that’s upon us? What support are you receiving from our organization?