Let me read your tea leaves for 2019 and predict what’s to come in the next 12 months.
First, the good news: bots aren’t gunning for your career; you won’t be automated out of job.
But your performance will be augmented by technologies that pick up more of the repetitive, mundane tasks in your day … the reporting, the tracking, the chasing of tasks.
Technology will help to set you free in 2019 to think strategically, innovate and create.
And that happens to be what nearly eight out of 10 of you told us you most wanted to see when we asked 2,000 UK creatives and marketers about the future in our State of Work report.
So, what’s the bad news?
That golden year ahead will only come to pass if your business makes smart decisions about digital transformation. That means re-imagining how work gets done, not just adding a new app to the list of tools you are expected to use. New workplace tech should mean new workflows, not new workarounds.
But history suggests the odds are against you, as 70% of digital transformation projects fail.
I found compelling answers about how to successfully manage change in a new book about the future of work by Workfront President and CEO Alex Shootman called Done Right: How Tomorrow’s Leaders Get Stuff Done. It’s definitely a must-add to your Christmas list.
So, drawing on our State of Work report and Alex’s new book, here are three golden rules to help make 2019 different.
1. Focus on tech that gives clarity about who does what, when … and why
Sounds simple, but one in three of you are craving greater clarity about the status of incoming work and progress on existing projects. And you want a better understanding of how your work relates to the bottom line of the business and its strategic objectives. You would think by now that task allocation and tracking would have been simplified and automated. The truth is, it has been … some businesses just haven’t caught up. Instead, they are labouring with spreadsheets, email threads, and time-sucking progress meetings instead of using a single system - an operational system of record - that shows where work is and who is doing it.
2. Focus on tech that lets you work anywhere
We found in our State of Work report that about half of you (48%) want to see more remote working. I suspect the other 52% are already doing it. In Done Right, Alex argues that the future is an office where you log-in rather than walk in. Nearly one in three of you want a virtual workspace with everything you need in the Cloud; secure and accessible on demand. You want the ability to work whenever and wherever - accessing the digital tools and documents you need without being burdened down by printouts and paper files. And working more flexibly could pay off with greater creativity. According to TED speaker and innovation guru Nick Skillicorn, routine is the enemy of creative thinking and inspiration far is less likely to strike during office hours or when you’re sitting at the same desk every day.
3. Focus on tech that pays a productivity dividend
If more of your mundane-but-necessary tasks are automated, surely you can reap a productivity dividend and work fewer hours than in 2018? 14% of you thinks that a better use of technology could see your working week shrink from 40+ hours to 32. Think about it: you could get the equivalent of a working day back every week in 2019 with the right technology used in the right way.
What won't change next year
You’ll also find a sharp insight from the futurist James Wallman in Done Right that sums up why I think worries about automation are misplaced.
“I’ve become a real believer that we shouldn’t be worried about robots taking our jobs,” says James, “What we should be looking forward to is cobots coming along and supporting us.”
So, here’s one final prediction for the year ahead. It will become increasingly clear that artificial intelligence will not replace human creativity; instead, AI will create more time for it. The need for your imagination and ingenuity won’t go away in 2019.
This time next year, you won’t be worrying about being automated out of a job. You’ll be wondering why it took the bots so long to come and help ...