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Workforce 2020: Be Expert or Be Automated

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.

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