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Workforce 2020: Be Expert or Be Automated

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Workforce 2020: Be Expert or Be Automated

Authored by: 

  • Laci Loew, Founder and Principal, Laci Loew & Company LLC
  • Bob Danna, Retired Managing Director, Deloitte
  • John Burge, Co-Founder and CEO, Pandexio, Inc.

March 30, 2017

Massive data is coming at the workforce 24×7 and accelerating. Employees are overwhelmed – more so than ever before.

Digital technology is here. Jobs are being automated – a phenomenon never before experienced.

As such, work gets done differently. Work now is a partnership between human and machine. To stay as pertinent contributors, workers require greater expertise.  They need to move up the knowledge pyramid and operate at a higher cognitive level.

Tomorrow’s Workers Must Be Insights Experts

Employees curate content every day. They sort, store, handle, annotate, and manage information multiple times per day. They rely on post-it notes, highlighters, legal pads, online file folders, browser bookmarks, Evernote, Google Drive and iCloud. While that is a good start, where are the insights employees glean from consuming all the content?  Buried inside the content itself?  Scattered across multiple systems?  Decaying between their ears?

To be useful, raw content must be converted to relevant insights.  To get relevant insights, we need employees to start curating insights, not just merely curating the raw content. Curated insights™ are social, mobile objects that are 50X smaller and more relevant than whole pieces of curated content. When employees curate insights, we call them insights experts. Insights experts identify only the actionable two percent from all the content they read.

Sources: 2017 Laci Loew & Company LLC and Pandexio, Inc

Insights experts have specialist level understanding of one or more subjects. They are subject matter experts, recognized by others as the “go-to” thought leader; although, in a traditional hierarchical structure of most organizations, they may be completely unrecognized, hidden, or marginalized talent.

Tomorrow’s insights experts need a different set of tools and network capabilities than do today’s knowledge workers. Using higher level cognition skills (like systems thinking and critical analysis), insights experts curate insights by identifying the actionable two percent of all content that has value to the organization. Then, they will add their thoughtful and informed insights about that content sharing their perspectives amongst peers and other network members. Others benefit from the collective expertise and build their own expertise more quickly.

Sources: 2017 Laci Loew & Company LLC and Pandexio, Inc

Today, a real barrier to curated insights, however, is people. Information users and content curators are missing higher level cognition skills required to stay relevant today. And when that gap exists, job automation takes over.

 Job Automation Is Coming Fast – Except for Capabilities Unique to Insights Experts

There is no uncertainty about the ensuing automation of key job capabilities and even whole jobs. Examples are coming faster every day. In 2014, Gartner research predicted one in three jobs will be converted to software, robots and smart machines by 2025. Last year, McKinsey ran a comprehensive study of nearly 800 different jobs in the United States and analyzed 2,000 individual work activities against 18 different capabilities that could potentially be automated. They found that 45 percent of work activities representing $2 trillion in wages can already by automated based on current technology – not new technology. And this year, in a related study, they showed that 47 percent of all jobs will be automated by 2035 and the rising trend of that number is expected to continue.

Professional jobs are not necessarily robot-proof as automation potential doesn’t correlate with low-skill, low-wage jobs as much as one may think: automation potential for pharmacists = 47%, doctors = 23%, and nurses = 29%.  Even for CEOs, 25% of their jobs can be automated with current technology.

Does this mean that all jobs will be giving way at some point to a robot?  Absolutely not.  But what it does mean is that we need to get human workers focused on their unique capabilities that will not get automated.  At a high level, routine information tasks will get automated, but those that require systems thinking, critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving will not.  So, getting workers from information users to insights experts is where organizations need to focus.

Transitioning Workers to Insights Experts Means a New Genre of Technology

Humans need technology to help them build cognition capability, identify only the actionable two percent of all information, and add to it meaningful and shareable insights. Published research by Deloitte, Harvard, IBM, Insead, McKinsey and others implies our workers are empowered to transition from information users to insights experts only through the use of a curated insights™ platform. In other words, the worker of the future will require augmentation by a new type of technology.

In January 2017, IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty said, “Watson should be seen and used as an assistant, and that its role is in a human with machine partnership” boosting human intelligence. Watson is AI and the ‘A’ does not stand for ‘Artificial’, but rather ‘Augmented’. Just two months later, Harvard’s How to Win with Automation publication corroborated Rometty’s comment. Harvard researchers said, “Any enterprise that doesn’t embrace automation won’t be able to survive. Yet while machines have taken over tasks, they haven’t actually replaced humans. Successful companies will find ways to use technology to extend the skills of humans.”

IBM and Harvard aren’t alone. Several other human capital consultancies including Deloitte, McKinsey, and KPMG, have published on the importance of Workforce 2020 being enabled with a centralized, global, “insights curation” platform. The research implies how the insights curation platform should ingest information from a multitude of internal and external sources while insights experts focus on adding tailored insights to the information and sharing insights with each other.

Insights experts leverage shared expertise for improved business value.

Insights Experts Generate Business Impact

Insights experts are a new type of worker who is invaluable to the business. They are more efficient, and operate at a higher-level than do their peers who focus only on gathering and using information. Moreover, their presence in the organization and network are critical to future business success.

Here are some points for consideration:

First, efficiency — tomorrow’s insights experts will be faster at finding actionable information as we develop systematic ways to capture and access insights.  It will enable everyone to work with the actionable 2% instead of bulk information.  Operating at a higher-level on the knowledge pyramid means operating with less information, not more.

Second, performance — access to insights will lead to evidence-based decision-making that will result in better business decisions.  And because insights are smaller, more focused bits of information, insights experts will be making better use of social and mobile technologies in addition to better leveraging the wisdom of our colleagues.

Next, utilization — today we don’t really know who the real experts are in the organization.  We try our best using what reputation information we can find, or by analyzing email and social communication patterns, but that’s nothing compared to the level of intelligence we’ll get about our own human capital once we can measure and monitor insight flows and patterns.

And finally, financial — insights are a high-value form of organizational knowledge and intellectual property.  Capturing it, quantifying it and leveraging the insights we get from the insights is priceless.

Sources: 2017 Laci Loew & Company LLC and Pandexio, Inc

How are leading organizations getting this business impact? Executing on this workforce transformation?

 A Curated Insights™ Technology Solution

In this uncharted Insights Economy era enterprises need a partner that can help them seamlessly integrate people and machines and engrain insights experts as their Workforce 2020. Tune in to part two of this publication for information about a new genre technology that leading organizations are already using.

The Worker of the Future

Authored by: Laci Loew
March 30, 2017

The pace of change has picked up dramatically, and organizations are feeling the effect on how work gets done.  At least five trends are permeating today’s workforces everywhere:

  • New capabilities: Workers are using cognitive systems to augment human ability to understand in the pursuit of expertise
  • New structure: Workforces represent a complex network of employees, freelancers, customers, and suppliers, both collocated and distributed around the world sharing insights to get work done
  • New expectations: Workers seek and stay with organizations forged in using technology and platforms to perpetually grow their knowledge and make meaning
  • New speed: Workers reside in an “always on” environment and find themselves with less time to sift through the incoming and get it done
  • New metrics: Workers rely on identifying and plucking know-how from peers and others who have figured out how to triumph in today’s ever-changing business world

The most challenging aspect of today’s workplace change is not the physical or technology revolutions, but rather the people component. The key to success is to understand that today’s workers perform best when given the tools and platforms to move from a user of information to an expert using insights to make key decisions and take critical business actions.

Subscribing to the form that today’s worker takes is no longer just for trials of the innovators and early adapters. They are mainstream and rudimentary for organizations who seek to outperform their competition.

Solving complex business challenges in today’s knowledge economy requires rapid organizational adoption of knowledge tools and systems the enable a movement from workers who merely use information to experts who curate insights.

Take a look at our Worker of the Future infographic pictured below. It spotlights insights vital for your consideration as you enable your workforce to be the knowledge experts your business requires for ongoing success in today’s complex and fast-moving knowledge economy.

Worker of the Future Infographic

A New & Must-Have Solution to Enhance Workforce Productivity

Authored by: Laci Loew
March 1, 2017

Today’s market is customer-led and digitally-driven with actionable information at the core of enhanced productivity. Organizations are shifting operations to offer solutions that enable employees to quickly identify the actionable two percent with a two second mouse or finger swipe.

Getting to actionable information means long gone are conventional L&D Departments focused on offering less-than-engaging training programs; no more complex and multi-disciplinary approaches to systematically managing information assets spread across the enterprise; good bye to static tools intended (but often fail) to support training or accelerate change; and so long to unwieldy sales reports and/or data files that yield little, if any, relevancy to enabling the sales process and actually closing deals.

Instead, agile and nimble organizations need a means to harvest the actionable two percent from existing CRM, HCM, Learning Management, and other business systems. Today’s high performance organizations leverage the power of insights to enable small, easily consumed pieces of information and knowledge – getting it, sharing it, remembering it, and transferring it – just as and when needed to increase productivity and propel engagement worker by worker, team by team, and function by function.

In today’s knowledge-based economy, this new world of consumer-centrism, puts workers, not L&D departments or systems, in charge. Moreover, regardless of generation, level, tenure, or experience, employees expect this new culture of actionable, micro-sized, faster, more relevant, and curated and contextual information access as part of their work day. In fact, nearly a third of executives acknowledge the new world of insights-driven learning as the primary driver of employee development and engagement. And, they know that if they fail to provide it, their workers will simply move on to the organization that will.

How One Provider Is Responding

Pandexio wants all to be successful — all workers and all organizations. Pandexio ensures today’s overwhelming world of information powers the workforce, not paralyzes it.  Pandexio is a “rapid-learn” system, productivity tool, and on-demand knowledge solution all rolled-up into one user-centric platform that puts users at the center. Pandexio eliminates memorization from learning and knowledge work; curates lessons learned into atomic units of knowledge that can be collected, recalled, and shared; captures verifiable and actionable information; empowers employees with the ability to “Google” their peers’ brains; and slashes irrelevant information workers deal with daily by 98 percent. By using Pandexio, individuals can easily harvest the critical two percent of information that makes a business difference and simply forget about the other 98 that was nothing more than a distractor hampering productivity.

The result of Pandexio’s patented functionality is the crowd-filtered, actionable two percent so employees can work smarter and execute better on what matters. The product name is Smartsnips.

Why Smartsnips

Every day in every organization in physical offices and virtual work spaces, employees consume voluminous quantities of documents, unfiltered web content, and unsorted intranet posts. They read opinions, discover facts, get exposed to new information, and study new data. Employees are still printing and highlighting, emailing notes to themselves, leaving audio reminders for others and placing stick notes wherever needed in attempt to pull out and recall key. These are yesteryear’s inefficient and ineffective practices leaving relevant information scattered, without context, unverified, and often not shareable with others. Worse yet, if employees spend just 30 minutes a day “managing” in these ways the information with which they are barraged daily, that’s a staggering cost of $150 million per year for the average Fortune 500 company. Or, the typical executive wastes 150 hours per year (almost an entire month) searching for information. For senior leaders earning $250,000 a year, this loss is equivalent to almost $21,000 annually.

Employees already have too many new logins to too many systems – intranet login, email login, learning system login, performance system log in, travel & expense login, and the list goes on. By delivering Smartsnips as a platform that enables actionable information to be identified and harvested within existing systems, Smartsnips is: (1) not “yet another new system”; (2) enables clients to leverage more value from their existing investments in systems; and (3) doesn’t require a change in employee workflow – it simply plugs right into current workflows.

In short, Pandexio’s Smartsnips transforms the daily bombardment of unfiltered and mostly irrelevant content into portable and permanent, contextualized and curated, insightful and actionable knowledge that can be shared with peers and re-used across the organization using existing platforms and without interrupting existing work streams. By exposing only information that matters, Smartsnips addresses top leadership priorities: it enhances employee expertise and workforce productivity and amplifies worker engagement and retention.

While 61 percent of executives report challenges in moving their organizations toward self-directed learning and knowledge capturing & sharing, high-performance organizations are supporting this new disruptive knowledge platform at unprecedented rates. Released in alpha just 18 months ago, today nearly 2,000 Smartsnips users are active in identifying and sharing only the information that facilitates their daily work and makes a business difference. It doesn’t stop there. Several others are in motion to deploy Smartsnips this year as a central vein of their learning and talent function.

How Smartsnips works

It’s simple. Pandexio integrates the Smartsnips platform with those systems that employees access daily – the Web, their intranet, their learning management system, SharePoint, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and more. As employees read, with a single mouse swipe, they snip the actionable two percent creating micro-sized bits of knowledge — Smartsnips in other words:

Smartsnips are like digital brain cells. They can be easily re-accessed on-demand, while capturing the information, context and knowledge grouped into collections searched and filtered in a concise social and mobile package accessible on a mobile phone. Rather than exchanging random and static content, with Smartsnips, employees exchange knowledge comprised of facts, insights, interpretations, and conclusions to focus just on what matters.

With early integration in a number of systems, Pandexio’s research and product development teams are not sitting still. Their library of ready-to-go integrations is growing with new systems (e.g. Slack, BaseCamp, Asana, Yammer) on the roadmap.

Smartsnips Use Cases

Early users of Smartsnips recount stories of how it has enabled workforce productivity. Here are just three examples of the stories they have shared regarding its business value: to enable today’s social learning expectations of the Millennials and their peers, to empower the Sales Team to close deals, and to support the Customers with timely and accurate information they request:

  • Social Learning

The pain points: Employees forget training as fast as they experience it. Courseware in the Learning Management System generally stays static and is costly to develop. Key talent retires and takes relevant knowledge out the door. New hires aren’t plugged in to a support network. And with the influx of Millennials comprising our workforce of the future, the demand for social learning outpaces any learning management system or traditional learning strategy of training courses.

The Smartsnips solution: Use the combined brain-power of your company’s subject matter experts to swipe out nuggets of critical knowledge (Smartsnips) from voluminous documents, workspaces, internal blogs, communities of practices, discussion forums, and activity streams. Smartsnips turns “just talking” into knowledge collecting, sharing, and collaborating. In this fashion, Smartsnips addresses these key HR challenges in these ways:

  • Sales Enablement

The pain points: Today’s Sales Reps have difficulty staying current with new products and services. Government regulations change or are imposed regularly and new product research is being released often. With the rise of the Web, customers are becoming product savvy. Put it altogether, and the knowledge bar of all Sales Reps is on a perpetual rise. Existing sales enablement solutions are static, multi-page documents and collateral often extremely text heavy bearing way too much content to recall at the time of need. The value proposition gets buried and the deal doesn’t close.

The Smartsnips solution:  Organize the most important sales data in categories (cost, features, maintenance, troubleshooting, etc.) and make it available on an iPhone. As a result, Sales has available in a click that which the Marketing, Product, Support, and the Contracting Teams so they are truly a product expert and can quickly and knowledgeably answer customer questions, provide flexible solutions, and add value the customer seeks.

  • Customer Support

The pain points: Support information is invariably buried in some technical document that sits on a shelf somewhere or at best stored on some online repository with poor search capability. To this point, knowledge bases lack facts, diagrams, and source content and are rarely maintained thus expose out-of-date and even flat out wrong information. The Web is sprouting in support content that exposes risk as it outside of the company firewall.

The Smartsnips solution:  Crowdsource the most important two percent of product knowledge from technical documentation and share it with the Customer Service Agents so they can answer questions on demand. Like the Sales Rep using Smartsnips, this turns the individual who answers the ringing phone in the CSR Center into the expert product support agent customers expect.

In today’s knowledge economy, knowledge is not a commodity. It is a service. It is the life source of every workplace and workforce. It is the means for powering up performance. It is a business lever and differentiator. Today’s high-performance organizations and workers rely on the ability to harvest critical knowledge.

The impact and value of knowledge comes into being when the right information, context and insight come together at the moment of need. The key is to create a consumable and relevant flow of knowledge that is tailored for each person in an on-demand, digital experience. That is Smartsnips.

Smartsnips empowers each person, one by one, to collect, describe, connect, organize, and share knowledge as she reads and frees her knowledge from the bounds of hard to access and search documents for the purpose of accelerating quality business decisions and achieving business goals.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to check out Pandexio, then you might want to do so today. Their solution might very well save you from drowning: “We are drowning in information, but starved for knowledge.” – John Naisbitt





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