Some would argue that technologies like deep learning, natural language processing, and blockchain represent untapped opportunities for developing new products that every customer wants. But from my perspective, the even greater gain is found in changing how people work, how businesses innovate, and how customers are served in ways never before thought possible.
Take, for example, how these emerging technologies and their behind-the-scenes role transform the standard definition of work. Thanks to a steady stream of statistics and news headlines crossing our social feeds and mobile devices on a daily basis, we’re all aware that the workplace of the future will look different from today (for example, a much closer collaboration between humans and machines). But even when some job requirements change in the future, particularly around routine tasks, new technologies will allow people to focus on meaningful, purposeful work.
Bringing purpose to the future of work
Today, people often still need to fulfill tedious, repetitive tasks in their workplaces. For instance, recruiters who manually go through hundreds of thousands of CVs to find the best job candidate for an open position. Professionals working in financial service centers often still manually match invoices with incoming payments. And employees manually type data into software systems to fulfill specific processes. All of these are not necessarily tasks that employees would describe as meaningful or valuable. It’s nothing they want to do, but somehow it needs to be done.
Workers of all generations and backgrounds want opportunities that allow them to make a difference—from contributing directly to the success and growth of a business to igniting a sweeping change for the common good of local and global communities. According to a recent study conducted by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), 29% of surveyed employees cited meaningful work as a reason to stay in their current organization—ranking higher than challenging work, beneficial supervisor relationships, low workplace stress, and career advancement or training.
Emerging technologies like machine learning and conversational artificial intelligence will help create the space to make such a difference and to focus on meaningful responsibilities. Instead of manually handling these business processes, employees will be supported by machines that take over the cumbersome tasks. This will happen in a beautiful symbiosis as we see it in well-designed manufacturing plants where employees’ abilities are amplified by technology. For example, employees will be able focus on dealing with complex challenges and unexpected situations through human creativity.
Moreover, employees will be able to interact with software in a much more convenient and efficient way: through voice and chat. Already today, people are increasingly accustomed to having voice-based digital assistants like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa at home or even in their pocket. They also use text messengers like WhatsApp, iMessage, WeChat, or Facebook Messenger to exchange documents, pictures, location information, and even cash. Applying these capabilities to the enterprise context will allow employees to significantly increase productivity and, more importantly, save time. This is time that employees can use to focus on work that is purposeful and satisfying and that also offers greater impact for businesses.
I am convinced that this is a natural consequence of our transformation from the Industrial Age into the Information Age. Being purpose-led will be a main differentiator for organizations, leading to much greater employee satisfaction and driving the success and stability for the organization and the business at large.
For more on how technology is shaping the future of work, register now to attend Juergen’s Webcast “Evolve. How Emerging Technologies are Transforming Business” on September 7.