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Reimagine the way work gets done

  • Posted on April 3, 2017

Michelle Caldwell presented at Nintex InspireX 2017. This article originally published on Nintex Blog.

Wouldn’t it be great if your office worked with you, instead of against you?

What if your workplace actually knew who you are, and where you are, and what you’re doing? What if it were smart enough to serve up the information and services you need, when you need them?

That’s the workplace I imagine, based on where technology is headed. And it’s the workplace I think is needed, based on the modern workforce  [CLICK TO TWEET].

I had a chance to discuss these ideas recently at Nintex InspireX 2017 in New Orleans. I called my session “Reimagine the Way Work Gets Done” because I think there is so much potential to work better – and because we can’t keep doing things the old way. If nothing else, the millennials now coming into the workforce in large numbers won’t stand for it.

If they come in for an interview and confront rows of cubicles, they’ll head for the door!

Modern Workforce, Modern Workplace

Think about it: Millennials will make up 40% of the workplace by 2020. The odds are they’ll have 20 different jobs and five careers in their lifetimes.

At the same time, nearly half of jobs could be automated in the next 15 years, and more and more jobs will be filled by contractors.

Employers can’t ignore these realities if they want to attract and retain the best people.

And there’s one key reality: the workers they need are digital natives who want and expect the technologies they use in their jobs to adapt to them in the right context, just like the technologies that power their personal lives.

Fortunately, many of the technologies these new workplaces will require are well on their way. Location awareness is now ubiquitous; connectivity and bandwidth are increasingly solid, and offline capabilities cover the gap. Image recognition, artificial intelligence, and analytics are coming together to help with the “contextual” piece.

We really are entering a future where it’s possible to work from anywhere without sacrificing any essential functionality. There may be things I would prefer not to do on a phone screen, but I can still do them in a pinch.

From Observation to Innovation

So there are work scenarios that we just don’t have to put up with anymore. Who hasn’t suffered through a meeting that turned into a minefield when shaky connections or bad video quality undermined an otherwise strong pitch?

And there are entirely new work scenarios that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago, in fields as diverse as education and agriculture – all enterprises, really.

We’re already in the era of personal agents; many don’t realize it as such, but that’s what Siri, Alexa and Cortana all represent. Driverless vehicles are on the way, and although they (and other emerging technologies) will definitely cause workforce disruption, they will also create new opportunities for workers willing and able to adapt their skills.

I’ve long believed that habit is one of the biggest – perhaps the biggest – barrier to innovation; we get so used to how things have always been that we can’t imagine them being any different. Because of that, one tool I use frequently in client engagements is to simply walk into a workplace and watch how people work, how they interact.

Observation is one of my favorite ways to innovate!

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