HR and IT communication for the future of work

By Helen Poitevin, Gartner Inc.

The future of work has vastly changed over the last couple of years. Human Resource and IT employees are at the tip of the spear as IoT and AI threaten to take jobs away and replace humans. Questions have arisen as to the future of work and whether there will be enough jobs for humans or will tireless robots fill offices. .

On a personal level, we all crave insight into how trends will impact our jobs, what our future will look like and how the next generation will work and quite frankly how we will have to adjust to work with them.

IT leaders need to know how work will change, so they can better plan technology strategies, understand what IT skills are needed for their staff and the overall workforce, ensure technology is a valued part of the employee experience and broaden their overall influence on business strategies.

Nearly eight in 10 CIOs and business leaders agree that in 10 years, the skills and knowledge in their organization will bear little resemblance to those they have today, according to a Gartner survey.

Three workforce trends

For the next 10 years at least, work will still revolve around human beings, with artificial intelligence (AI) and smart machines augmenting human aptitude and capabilities. But then what?

There are three workforce trends that CIOs must pay attention to.

  1. AI predominates. Robobosses will be common, physical workplaces will become smart with beacon and sensor networks, and virtual personal assistants (VPAs) will be our work partners. Gartner predicts that by 2022, one in five workers engaged in mostly non-routine tasks will rely on AI to do their jobs.
  2. The gig economy thrives. In Dubai, 90,000 workers were on the Nabbesh freelance network in 2016. In 2017, 36 per cent of workers in the United States were freelancers. As jobs are deconstructed, employees will have portfolios and find work on internal and external employment marketplaces.
  3. Digital dexterity becomes critical. The need to use current and emerging technologies in most jobs is accelerating rapidly, but there is little concerted effort to help leaders and employees continuously improve their skills.

These trends are converging to change where, when, why and with whom we will work. All of these trends will hit the mainstream between 2022 and 2026. HR and IT must become allies to plan for this transformation in the workforce.

An action plan for CIOs

CIOs and IT leaders are often consumed with day-to-day operational activities requiring their immediate attention, and push workforce capability planning and development down the list of priorities. This ongoing underinvestment of time and attention creates problems.

As will be discussed at the upcoming Gartner CIO & IT Executive Summit in Toronto, effective workforce planning means building a talent pipeline that can effectively support the changing direction of the business and its needs.

In preparing for the future of work, Gartner recommends that CIOs:

  • Accelerate the scan, pilot and adoption cycle for new technology
  • Expand the IT charter to include helping employees rapidly to embrace new technologies
  • Make ease-of-learning and ease-of-use core technology evaluation criteria
  • Make “return on learning” a key performance indicator in growing a culture of digital dexterity.
  • Invest in workforce analytics and planning technology to support the business requirement needed to act quickly, decisively and with agility.

Helen Poitevin is a research director with a focus on HCM technologies, including workforce analytics and planning, HRMS and talent management (recruiting, onboarding, employee performance, compensation, succession and learning).

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