The Workplace Future: A Technology Revolution
In my opinion, we are living directly in the midst of the Technology Revolution. Just like the Agricultural Revolution & Industrial Revolution before it, society, business, and lifestyles are changing at an unbelievable rate. Just think… the World Wide Web as we know it was only invented in 1990. As I write this article… that was ONLY 28 years ago. If you think about the substantial improvements, new technologies, hardware, applications, and uses for the Internet in less than 30 years, it is mind-boggling. Everything from Cable Television, Encyclopedias, Landlines, to things like Map Making have all been killed by the Internet and the subsequent inventions that stemmed from that.
This means that – naturally – the way we work and get tasks done was bound to change as well. Suddenly, hand-written notes become available online. Salespeople are required to fill out CRM data to track their progress. Businesses are constantly looking for ways to run leaner now because they have more data to pinpoint their excess spends and inefficiencies.
Let’s compare workers from the ‘mundane economy’.
In the era that I call the ‘Mundane Economy’ (circa 1950’s), workers would come into work at 9, twist as a cog in a massive wheel, complete the task they needed to, and went home at 5. Unless you were in an extremely high or managerial position, very little was expected of you in terms of changing those established processes. The most important thing to complete was your specific task. This led to departmental silos in large organizations.
Each department chose to solely focus on their specific tasks. This led to monotonous workdays combined with no knowledge of the company’s overall strategy. Workers were encouraged to handle their specific tasks only. We read about this mindset now as businesspeople and think, “Why would you not let people understand the goals of the entire company? Why would you keep workers in the dark?” It makes sense to us to include everyone now, but the standard – for years – was to separate and silo off parts of the business for “better focus”. Times have since changed and companies began to realize that when their organizations adopted a more integrated approach to their work, it would allow for more collaboration, and ultimately, efficiency.
The demands of the current workers are completely different now as well.
Between the technology influx and collaborative workplaces we now all share, workers’ demands have changed drastically as well. As workers, we are required to be collaborative within all areas of the company, and be much more analytical in terms of discovering trends and applying new thoughts to our process due to the sheer amount of data we have access to now.
Everything is tracked. From sales appointments to e-commerce volume, marketing, or HR/payroll work, there is almost no limit to all of the data points we have access to as workers. The more important point to make is that all organizations have access to this kind of data. The BEST organizations utilize the data to influence multiple parts of the business, not simply their own silo.
The Right and Left side of the brain comes into play now.
As we all learned in anatomy class, the right and left sides of our brains have different functionalities. The right side, traditionally handles the creativity and the arts, while the left side handles logic, science & mathematics. Modern-day workers have to use both parts of their brain in order to be recognized as effective workers internally.
For example, in advertising (my industry), I am no longer simply required to make a cool-sounding tagline and a visually appealing ad. I am now required to use the left side of my brain – after being creative – to assess the effectiveness of my ad. It’s no longer a focus-group of 20 people that decide whether my ad ‘resonates with people’. I need to provide the metrics for my ads at scale to show that people are interacting with the ads, going to my clients’ websites, and most importantly engaging in the next step in their particular sales funnel to prove they are receiving customers from the ads we are serving.
That is just the basics.
From there, I am required to be involved in almost every silo of the organizations that I work with. I need to be able to review the phone calls that we are driving to ensure we have good leads coming through, but I can also monitor the call-center to make sure they are converting the leads I’m driving. ‘Do we need to take this person off of the phones because operationally they aren’t cutting it?’ or ‘Is it time to shift entire call-center companies based on the feedback?’
I need to predict the number of new customers coming in, so that my clients can start to predict and utilize the data for expansion efforts. ‘Do we need a new building?’ or ‘I think it’s time we purchase more equipment based on how our new customer intake is trending.’
It’s no longer about doing your job well. It’s about ADDED VALUE.
It’s easy to create a campaign that you love and you think others will love in advertising. What’s difficult about today’s in environment is creating a campaign, reviewing the statistical analysis of its effectiveness, and now activating that same data to apply it to other parts of the business. Adding value by assessing your portion of the business equation and utilizing it for the overall success of the company… THAT is what the modern day worker needs to be. Beleive me, if you don’t do it, they will find someone that will.
Don’t worry. It’s not all doom and gloom.
Millennials – and the generations behind them – have an extraordinary opportunity to use the skills that we have inherently developed in our lives to become exactly the workers that the business community needs.
Think about something as simple as social media. Not only are we cultivating content to get the most likes, but we are A/B testing to see whether pictures or my “funny” quotes or anecdotes gets the most likes and shares. We modify our posts based on the real-time feedback that we receive in order to optimize them for more attention. We often extend that knowledge to our businesses to tell them how to run their social media platforms (As an aside, please leave this to the people that do it every day ?).
This is not the only example. The point is that millennials have an ability, based on simple tasks that we have been doing our entire lives, to be one of the most productive workforces the world has ever seen in a work setting. When you start to analyze this, plus our ability to adapt much more rapidly to the CONSTANT technological advancements in the workplace, I get all giggly inside. It’s an exciting time.
Let’s give them a workforce like you’ve never seen.
Millennials (and younger) need to do 3 things if we are going to adapt to the workplace of the future:
- Realize we have the potential to be exactly what companies need. Market yourself that way!
- Start to find different ways to contribute to your company by using the data that is available.
- Don’t hold back; If you have the data to back up your decisions, pursue the changes within the organization that will benefit everyone.
I would assert that if more millennials (and younger) realized their potential, importance, & inherent value of adaptability to technology, obviously more would use it. Ultimately, however, they would also be recognized internally for their efforts more often and start to obtain more positions of authority within their organizations.
You’ve always had the tools. Now it’s up to you to use em.