The Future of Work and How Your Digital Transformation Can Succeed

by Jon Ogden
, 5 min read
future of work digital transformation

By Scott Lee | VP of Product Marketing at Workfront

***

Four years ago, my family and I took our first trip to Disneyland — the “happiest place on earth.”

Our planning started on Google, where we looked for the best prices and found expert tips on where to stay and what to avoid. We then bought tickets on Disneyland’s website. When we got to the park, we swiped the credit card again to pick up our physical tickets. Then we spent our time at the park running to FastPass kiosks for physical passes to hold a spot in line and of course, using the credit card to buy all kinds of Disney paraphernalia.

Sounds like the typical modern vacation, right? Google searches, not having to worry about carrying cash, and relying on GPS — all part of this modern, tech-reliant world.

But Disney wanted to provide an even better experience to its millions of customers so it ramped up its digital systems even more.

Last year we took another trip to Disneyland. Here’s what it looked like:

  • I asked Google (“Hey, Google”) to find me a great deal on a conveniently located hotel, instead of scrolling through pages of search results.

  • I used the Disneyland app to buy tickets and paid with Apple Pay and Touch ID without even opening a browser or pulling out my credit card.

  • At Disneyland, I didn’t need FastPass kiosks because I could reserve a spot in line from the app (which also saved me from running all over the park all day).

  • I used the offers Disney sent my phone, with convenient notifications, every few hours for more FastPasses and merchandise discounts.

  • I still couldn’t resist the Disney paraphernalia, but this time I used Apple Pay!

It’s hard to imagine our world becoming even more digital, but it’s happening, and Disney is a prime example of how this transformation is making our lives easier.

Artificial intelligence, comprehensive apps, mobile payments, biometric ID, and other amazing technologies have streamlined the things we do every day, and we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg.

The Future of Work and Digital Transformation 

Just as things like memos, filing cabinets full of unnecessary hard copies, and fax machines (why are fax machines still around?) are fading from the workplace, so are some of the more traditional ways of getting work done.

There are four characteristics that will define modern work:

Multi-Generational Workforce

Right now — for the first time ever — there are five generations in the workforce. To take on the future of work, digital immigrants (those new to using modern technologies) and digital natives (those who have entered the workforce with modern technologies already in place) will work side by side to gather the information, tools, and people required for successful outcomes.

The Hollywood Model

Knowledge workers will no longer rely on departments and permanent teams to get work done. Instead, they will bring their skills together according to project demands. Workfront CEO Alex Shootman explains:

“Work is going to be more in the way Hollywood makes movies. A project is identified; a team is assembled; it works together for precisely as long as is needed to complete the task; then the team disbands.”

Transformational Leaders

To manage the Hollywood model of work, leaders will need to be able to assemble teams and monitor work horizontally, by initiatives, rather than by departments. They will form strategies that pull together the right people and the right tools to achieve company goals and have the ability to see the “big picture” results of forming temporary, project-based teams.

Boundaryless Systems

Systems, processes, and people will work together seamlessly to get work done. Tools will appeal to the way digital natives already integrate technology into their lives and will help propel projects forward without disrupting work and creative processes.

If companies want to increase revenues, eliminate costs, and engage their customers with an improved experience, they need to embrace digital transformation and the future of work.

The problem comes when a business tries to hold on to its outdated tools and systems, preventing it from stepping into the future where it can remain competitive. Digital transformations often fail due to lack of employee engagement, inadequate management support, lack of accountability, and poor or non-existent cross-functional collaboration.

But, there’s a simple solution to overcoming these obstacles and making digital transformation possible: keeping the DNA of work in context.

Keeping the DNA of Work in Context

Research from McKinsey reveals exactly what is required for a successful digital transformation:

  • Plans for long-term sustainability of changes.

  • Ownership of and commitment to change.

  • Clear accountability.

  • Continuous improvements.

  • Effective program management.

  • Prioritized set of changes.

  • Resources and capabilities to execute changes.

This seems like a lot of requirements, but we’ve condensed them all into what we call the “DNA of work,” which consists of three parts: a task, digital content, and collaboration.

Work begins with a task, which requires collaboration to complete. When the task, or a series of tasks, is complete, the end result is digital content. Whenever tasks, content, and collaboration — the DNA of work — are out of context, there is friction, which slows down or even completely halts productivity.

For example, think of how many attachments are in your email inbox and folders and how difficult it is to find them or implement any sort of version control. Now multiply that problem by thousands of workers over a long period of time. Work, let alone digital transformation, becomes impossible!

To keep the DNA of work in context, you need an operational system of record that is smart, connected, and agile.

5 Quick Tips for a Successful Digital Transformation

It’s important to understand that there’s more to modern work than project management. Steve ZoBell, chief product and technology officer at Workfront, says the future of work is all about purpose. “It is a mistake to go into the future thinking about the workplace as exclusively about work. That is just not the case any longer. It is about purpose,” he said.

With the right modern work management platform in hand and with a focus on purpose, you can plan for a successful digital transformation. Here are five tips to get started:

  1. Centralize everything into your operational system of record to make information accessible and allow for live status updates.

  2. Standardize repeatable processes with digital templates to make work faster and make delivery more predictable.

  3. Review and approve digital work collaboratively to avoid costly mistakes and quality issues.

  4. Deliver client facing services and manage related work in one place to save time, increase accountability, and protect profit margins.

  5. Automate and standardize compliance workflows to adhere to regulations and mitigate risk.

The future of work is coming, and it’s imperative that businesses are ready. With the right tools and some planning, companies can embrace digital transformation and increase revenues, eliminate costs, and engage their customers.
 

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