Angela Salmeron
Angela Salmeron (Research Director, European Future of Work)

IDC believes that the Future of Work is more than a cultural movement or technological revolution, it’s crucially a business mandate. Getting the right people and an Employee First organization will be the sustaining difference for companies to succeed over time.

Enterprises across all industries are under extreme pressure to innovate and create business value and differentiation. The average life span of S&P 500 companies has shrunk from 60 to 18 years in the last half a century, and just over half of the names of companies on the Fortune 500 have disappeared since the year 2000.

We are only at the beginning of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. IDC expects that at least of 50% of global GDP will be digitized by 2021, with Third Platform technologies and Innovation Accelerators (such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and robotics) as the leading force of innovation.

Technology innovation is demanding new digital skills. To survive, companies not only have to be digitally transformed but do so while embracing the Future of Work (FoW).

The digital deadlock affecting more than half of organizations worldwide could be overcome if their employees were at the top of their agenda. According to nearly 1,000 worldwide executives who responded to IDC’s 2017 Digital Transformation (DX) Leader Sentiment Survey the leading challenge related to digital transformation is “our organization does not have enough people with digital skills.”

The Future of Work is the cornerstone of success in the Digital Age

Enterprises cannot be digitally transformed unless they put their people first.

The workforce of today’s organizations is made up of four different generations of workers, each with different skillsets and expectations, which is enormously complex. Business leaders need to understand how to effectively engage with their workforce to be at the leading edge of change and innovation.

Many organizations have introduced some FoW components but only a few have deployed a holistic integrated approach. Where can work happen? How to drive employee experience? What makes great teams work together? How can robotics and cognitive computing augment your workforce? All these questions should be addressed as part of an integrated fabric by any organization on a digital journey.

IDC believes that organizations need to adopt a holistic FoW approach across three dimensions – Space, Culture and Force. They need to exist side-by-side to drive work transformation.

  • The Future of WorkSpace refers to the physical, digital and virtual working environment supporting new workstyles. The best talent will be attracted to the best “IT shops” that enables them to do their jobs with ease and at speed.
  • The Future of WorkCulture refers to the distinctive qualities of an organization and how effectively it achieves a highly engaged, agile, and innovative workforce. New generation of workers are attracted to highly collaborative working environments.
  • The Future of WorkForce refers to the makeup of the working population, from the increasing participation of Millennials to the relevance of machine-human collaboration. Investment in intelligent technologies has to be aligned with upskilling and cross-skilling training programs for affected employees.

Many CxOs have awoken to the FoW importance and urgency and started to build an “Employee First” organization, by for example:

  1. Creating an agile workforce for innovation.
  2. Driving collaboration across teams and breaking organizational siloes.
  3. Building a “borderless” enterprise connected to gig workers, partners, and customers.
  4. Driving work transformation with intelligent technologies (RPA, Robotics, etc.)
  5. Retaining top talent with a nurturing working environment with ample opportunities for career growth

To this end, the ICT industry is quickly embracing the Future of Work. Well-established players are reinventing themselves and gaining a foothold in this market. New emerging players are taking the opportunity to grow, proposing innovative and tech-enabled approaches.

The Future of Work is not easy to implement and only a few organizations have totally grasped the concept. For those companies that feel that FoW doesn’t affect them, they risk falling victim to the NIMBU (Not In My Business Unit) syndrome. IDC research shows that this approach is unsustainable for any organization – big or small, or in any industry – in the long term. FoW is the cornerstone of a successful Digital Transformation strategy.

IDC has recently launched an European Future of Work (FoW) program, supported by a research Practice of nearly 20 analysts from different technology domains — mobility, collaboration, artificial intelligence, and human capital management, among others. This research initiative is led by Roberta Bigliani as the executive sponsor, as well as by Angela Salmeron.

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