How CIOs Can Prepare for the Future of Work

March 04, 2018

Contributor: Sony Shetty

HR and IT leaders must become allies in workforce planning.

The world of work is in flux. Across the globe, debate rages on the future of work and whether there will be enough jobs to gainfully employ everyone who seeks one.

On a personal level, we all crave insight into how trends will impact our jobs, what our future will look like and how the next generation will work.

At a professional level, IT leaders need to know how work will change so they can better plan technology strategies, understand what IT skills are needed, ensure technology is a valued part of the employee experience and broaden their overall influence on business strategies.

“ For the next 10 years at least, work will still revolve around human beings”

Nearly 8 in 10 CIOs and business leaders agree that in 10 years, the skills and knowledge in their organizations will bear little resemblance to those they have today, according to a Gartner survey.

3 workforce trends

For the next 10 years at least, work will still revolve around human beings, with artificial intelligence (AI) and smart machines augmenting human aptitude and capabilities. But then what?

Read more: 6 Ways the Workplace Will Change in the Next 10 Years

Helen Poitevin, research director at Gartner, identifies three workforce trends that require CIOs' attention:

  1. AI predominates. Robobosses will be common, physical workplaces will become smart with beacon and sensor networks, and virtual personal assistants (VPAs) will be our work partners. Gartner predicts that by 2022, one in five workers engaged in mostly nonroutine tasks will rely on AI to do their jobs.
  2. The gig economy thrives. In Dubai, 90,000 workers were on the Nabbesh freelance network by 2016. In 2017, 36% of U.S. workers were freelancers. As jobs are deconstructed, employees will have portfolios and find work on internal and external employment marketplaces.
  3. Digital dexterity becomes critical. The need to use current and emerging technologies in most jobs is accelerating rapidly, but there is little concerted effort to help leaders and employees continuously improve their skills.

“These trends are converging to change where, when, why and with whom we will work,” says Poitevin. “All of these trends will hit the mainstream between 2022 and 2026. HR and IT must become allies to plan for this transformation in the workforce.”

An action plan for CIOs

CIOs and IT leaders are often consumed with day-to-day operational activities requiring their immediate attention, and push workforce capability planning and development down the list of priorities. This ongoing underinvestment of time and attention creates problems, says Poitevin.

Effective workforce planning means building a talent pipeline that can effectively support the changing direction of the business and its needs.

In preparing for the future of work, Gartner recommends that CIOs:

  • Accelerate the scan, pilot and adoption cycle for new technology.
  • Expand the IT charter to include helping employees rapidly to embrace new technologies.
  • Make ease of learning and ease of use core technology evaluation criteria.
  • Make "return on learning" a key performance indicator in growing a culture of digital dexterity.
  • Invest in workforce analytics and planning technology to support the business requirement needed to act quickly, decisively and with agility.

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