Driving to the office, Marie, CIO of a large bank in France, often has this quote from Bill Gates on her mind: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”
This morning the thought is particularly persistent. Her company has recently embarked on a digital transformation programme and she has been looking to recruit employees with different skill sets in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Marie knows that the secret to digital is analogue. She also knows that her organisation cannot unlock the business value of technology without people.
Speaking ahead of her track on work, people and culture at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Cape Town in September, De’Onn Griffin, research director at Gartner, explains: “Like Marie, no one will escape the impact of social developments, digital business, consumer behaviours and emerging technologies.”
The digital component of most jobs will accelerate, putting an emphasis on workforce digital dexterity — that is, the ability and desire to use new and existing technologies for better business outcomes.
According to Gartner, as individuals, we will increasingly gravitate toward work and organisations that accelerate “We Working” — a work philosophy that depends on ensembles of autonomous and high-performing teams fulfilling critical outcomes.
Work will revolve around portfolios of diversified roles and skills performed in teams that dynamically resize and reform.
“CIOs and business leaders must anticipate how trends in business, society, technology and information will converge to change where, when, why and with whom we will work in a digital business,” says Griffin. “However, there are two remaining challenges that CIOs need to control to achieve greater business and personal success.”
First CIO challenge
In 2018, teams form as loosely federated groups of people, pulled together in an ad hoc fashion or by reporting structure. “In this situation, teaming is recognised more as a behavioural competency (such as team spirit and collaboration) than as a legitimate organisational principle,” says Griffin.
In 2028, the complexity and scale of business objectives will require the involvement and orchestration of brainpower and expertise across organisational boundaries and borders in ways more intricate than today. “We Working” will take the concept of teaming and industrialise it, removing the casualness and converting it into a source of excellence.
“In 2018, we need fewer people managers, as many of the management tasks such as collecting data, supervising actions and ensuring compliance are completed by algorithms or robobosses,” she adds. “People managers are focusing their time on people-related activities that require intuition, empathy and interpersonal communication.”
Second CIO challenge
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. “In short, constant upskilling and employee digital dexterity will outweigh tenure and experience,” Griffin explains.
Professionals who embrace continuous learning and improvement of digital skills will excel more than colleagues with greater tenure or experience. These professionals will be adept at learning new concepts and techniques — and will be able to “unlearn” existing or outdated concepts, methods or tasks that are no longer applicable to the world of “We Working.”
“CIOs seeking to master the dynamics of leadership, culture and people during the next 10 years should go to the extreme and be daring. They need to create a 10-year scenario for “We Working,” and prepare for the combination of people + AI + robots in the workplace and how they will enrich and invigorate work dynamics,” concludes Griffin.