Not work as we know it
We’d all like to know this week’s lottery numbers but that shouldn’t make predicting the future priority number one. This is particularly true in modern business. Let me explain why, says Javier Diez-Aguirre*.
At Ricoh, we’ve spent many years investigating what the future of work will look like. As a leading printing and workplace technology company, it would be strange if we didn’t. Yet, our priority here is not on predicting the future but understanding the role we need to play in helping businesses to succeed in their own digital journeys.
Looking to the future, one thing’s for sure: digital will change everything – and I mean everything.
I was recently invited to join an OECD Forum in Paris to discuss how we’ll all be working in the not-too-distant future. This was a truly inspiring event that got me thinking. A lot. Not about the gadgets and gizmos we’ll be using in the years ahead but about the skills and mindsets we’ll need to thrive in what is sure to be an even faster, better-connected and more demanding world of work.
I left the event convinced about a number of things, but three future implications stood out:
1) Thanks to factors such as automation, a company’s reputation will be more important than ever before. Just think how buying behaviours have changed over the last decade. But what does this mean for businesses? I believe it will be the companies that humanise technology and offer that personal touch that will flourish. Key to this is agility and not being afraid to deviate from a business plan as required. Underpinning this with robust processes is essential.
2) It also became clear to me that in the next decade, digitisation will dissolve the tired notion of the traditional office environment and the very concept of work as we know it. The digital world has had a massive impact on the way we work and how we use our offices today: cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and Internet of Things sensors are already making businesses more streamlined and efficient. With technological devices becoming more prominent within office environments, the potential for growth will accelerate. The businesses that succeed will be those with the foresight to see the potential that new technology offers and the agility to adapt to take advantage of it.
3) I also think businesses will be more creative and social. This is because the growing use and sophistication of automation tools will lead to a scramble for workers with the most creativity and broadest range of social skills. We all expect robotics and AI to pick up the more repetitive tasks. And that’s a good thing as it will free up the workforce to participate in more engaging, collaborative work. Done right, technology can be used to increase our potential to engage in the types of experiences that leads to greater innovation.
Overall, I am convinced that man and machine will continue to co-exist and complement one another. This growing dynamic will result in workplaces where humans and machines work together in pursuit of a shared goal. But for this collaborative future to unfold, businesses have to step up and provide resources and training to ensure employees are ready. Only time will tell whether this will materialise but for me, these aren’t predictions – they’re certainties, and it won’t be long until we start seeing more of these transformations taking place.
* Javier Diez-Aguirre, vp of corporate marketing at Ricoh