What is the Future of Work? - Ascent Conference

What is the Future of Work?

future of work

If you’re a baby boomer or a millennial, could you have envisioned as a kid that Google’s driverless cars, wireless earbuds, and digital money would exist when you grew up? Did it occur to you that the future of work would mean that the services of a mail carrier, switchboard operator, and clock keeper will become less required in 2020? Very few people can answer affirmatively to those questions.

Now that we have all seen the kind of impact that technology is having on our lives, the question that most people in the workforce are asking is – will technological advancements kill jobs, or will they create more career opportunities? Well, here’s what industry leaders are saying about what the workplace of the future looks like.


Automation Will Become a Common Element in Every Business

A decade ago, many people associated the term “automation” with advanced manufacturing facilities full of robotics. A couple of years later, the process of substituting human labor with machine labor isn’t the only good example of workplace automation. Today, automation is present in all types of businesses, ranging from subtle features in common software programs to more obvious applications like self-driving cars.

As technology becomes more sophisticated, every business process is on the table for automation. Besides automating repetitive and mundane business processes, businesses are implementing more advanced forms of automation to complete more complex tasks. For instance, machine learning automation is helping automate employee recruitment processes, HR management processes, marketing processes, and customer service delivery processes, etc.

Opportunities to automate common business processes are everywhere, whether it’s streamlining the hiring process, managing marketing campaigns, or providing exceptional customer service. As technology improves, it is expected that automation will streamline even more business processes, thus become a common element of every business in the future.


The Concept of “Remote Work’ Will Be Widely Implemented

In today’s workplace, flexible work is no longer perceived as a benefit but as an expectation. Both younger generations who want more time to work on multiple projects and older workers who need more time to take care of their families and themselves are preferring working for companies that allow their employees to work remotely.

The shift towards greater flexibility is enabling many businesses to move from a predominantly permanent employee base towards a mixed workforce. In the future, almost every job will have some degree of flexibility built-in. Whether it’s a remote IT specialist working exclusively from his favorite coffee shop or an HR manager working from home three days a week, the work of the future will be more flexible. There will not be any physical desks. Workers will sit anywhere and have a simulated office right before their eyes.


Enterprises Will Rely More on Outsourced Services

Outsourcing is a practice that started in the 1990s as a revolutionary phenomenon of sending workers from developed countries to developing ones. This practice has gained momentum over the past two decades, with more and more organizations now turning to other companies that provide outsourced services.

Recent outsourcing trends indicate that companies are shifting their focus from outsourcing non-core business functions to outsourcing core business functions. As for the future, it is projected that businesses will witness an increase in the outsourcing of smaller projects.

While large businesses will continue to outsource big projects to major outsourcing agencies, there will be an increase in the number of smaller businesses looking for smaller, specialized providers to support them in attaining their goals.

Industry experts also predict that the existing outsourcing market will merge with cloud sourcing to provide better opportunities for the entire outsourcing industry. Now that business leaders increasingly realize the benefits of shifting to the cloud, businesses will require outsourced IT services to migrate their existing infrastructure and services to the cloud.

While business functions are currently outsourced to people who perform most of the tasks manually, the future of outsourcing will be digital. Outsourcing providers will adopt the “digital outsourcing” model, whereby the business functions will be performed entirely by machines instead of people. In other words, functions currently performed by people will increasingly be automated.


Leadership by Influence Will Take Center Stage

Industry leaders are also citing the shift from leadership in the form of formal authority to leadership by influence as one of the biggest changing dynamics in the workplace. With millennials fully integrated into the workforce and Gen-Zers on the way, business leaders have to find ways that make the younger workers feel more like peers.

The observations that have been made so far indicate that younger workers gravitate towards business leaders who are relatable, accessible, and authentic. The younger workers also tend to thrive through meaningful interactions and regular feedback. This is where leadership through influence – rather than authoritative leadership – comes in. In the future, work will thrive with teams, not dictators.


Marketing Will Revolve Around Data & Real-Time Insights

Today, companies are using historical, behavioral, and qualitative research data to derive customer insights. Industry experts believe that companies will increasingly use machine learning and AI to obtain unstructured data and real-time insights.

The data and real-time insights will enable them to have a dynamic view of the customer behavior changes that occur. Moreover, it will enable companies and marketing agencies to be more responsive in terms of customer interactions.

Aside from machine learning and AI, augmented reality is the next wave in user engagement. Marketers are turning to augmented reality to create memorable brand interactions and experiences with millennials. Using AR, shoppers will be able to check out products virtually before making a purchase. In the future, more and more companies will leverage AR to connect their online and offline channels to increase shopper engagement and create seamless omnichannel experiences.


Final Thoughts

One thing is for certain: the rate of change brought about by technological advancements in the next decade will be rapid and uncompromising. Technologies such as AI, machine learning, and augmented learning will have a profound effect on how people will work in the future. As a business leader, it’s wise to leverage these technologies sooner rather than later if you want your business to remain competitive. Feel free to contact us to learn how you can make the most of the changes.



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