There is no escaping the fact that the future of work will involve technology and that increasingly sophisticated forms of technology will emerge over time.
On the horizon is also the blurring of lines that characterises the Fourth Industrial Revolution. According to Africa.com, in the Fourth Industrial Revolution we will see:
‘a range of new technologies that fuse the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging what it means to be human.’
So what is your personal relationship with technology?
This is an important question because technology can make things better, faster, easier. But each one of us must decide whether we will accept it or choose to limit its impact. We have the power to let technology enable or disable us.
To let technology enable us, we need to start with making sense of what it can potentially do for us and to evaluate that within our own context. We can ask: How can this make my life better? What are the advantages for me?
Let’s take a very simple example of a parking app at a shopping mall. It is quite likely that we can save time and hassle paying for parking through a dedicated app built for this purpose. Paying by app could:
- save time waiting in a queue at the ticket machine on busy days,
- replace the ‘casino experience’ when you are forced to tender the only note you have – a large note – and it is dispensed in seemingly hundreds of small coins
- prevent the struggle with the machine when it doesn’t want to accept the only coins or notes you have, and the resultant search for the right money (begging from strangers or buying unwanted goods from the nearest store just for the change).
You may even also benefit incentivised offers such as discounted rates or other special offers at the mall, offered through the app, which may be of relevance to you.
On the other hand, let’s say you rely on the parking ticket machine for the small change you don’t get elsewhere in an increasingly digital payment world. In this case paying by cash at the parking ticket machine serves a purpose. It provides something you need that you do not get elsewhere. So you don’t choose to pay by app.
This is a relatively crude example, but it shows a basic evaluation of ‘what it means for me’, and ‘how it can make my life easier’.
We can use new technologies to make things better, but they are only likely to make things better if we have made sense of how they are doing this. We need to see the benefits they offer to us personally. If we can leverage those benefits, we secure advantage.
More sophisticated sense-making and deployment
Some people are waking up to the fact that a more sophisticated deployment of technology, aligned to the distinct benefits they seek, is providing competitive advantage in a fast changing world. This only happens when we get comfortable evaluating and experimenting with what new tech offers us.
Take LinkedIn as an example. A few years ago we used this platform mainly to profile our career history. Linkedin had a reputation for being the ‘jobsearch’ platform. If you were on it, the word was out – you were in the market for a new job.
But LinkedIn has come to be used for a lot more. Some have understood the power of this platform to grow and build a living network. It can also be leveraged as a tool for building professional influence and credibility. LinkedIn offers a publishing platform where you can showcase thought leadership and expertise. Click onto a profile on Linkedin, and then click ‘View recent activity’. Do this with a few profiles and let us know what conclusions you come to… This is just the start. For more ideas on what Linkedin can do, click here.
Does technology act as an enabler for you, or it is a disabler? Do you see opportunity, or hassle and time wasting? How are you making sense of this technological change and advancement on a personal level?
Invest in people and technology in your organisation
Now think about the organisation. The future of work is about technology. It is no wonder that organisations are committing spend in this area. But the future is also about the people who deploy the technology, and the people who create the technology. If your people are not making sense of technology and choosing it, it is likely that they are limiting its impact, or even disabling it.
As the profession dedicated to people in the organisation, we have the opportunity to steward the ‘sense-making’ process when it comes to people and technology. We can champion the importance of the people who sit behind the tech.
“Culture eats strategy for lunch”, goes the old adage. Along similar lines, “People will eat your technology for breakfast.”
How can you shape what gets invested where? And what impact could that have?