The pace and scale of digital disruption is challenging every organization to adapt or die. More than 70 percent of global Fortune 500 CEOs know that disruption can take them to places they’ve never been before. But they also know that tomorrow’s business landscape must be built today, and at unprecedented speed. Technologies that mature in a matter of months must be mastered over and over again as they morph into ever newer variations.

But technology is only half the story. The digital revolution also requires highly adaptive talent: agile enough not only to keep pace with constant technology change but also to anticipate and shape it. Most business leaders are doubling down on technology and R&D. Yet, just 13 percent of them, have a plan to future proof their workforce.

Traditional talent strategies focus on driving incremental changes in efficiency. They are not designed to channel the passion, purpose and performance of an evolving workforce. But thanks to the explosion of advanced analytics and entirely new technologies, business finally has the power to become more human—to hyper-personalize experiences, unlock the potential of people and organizations, and reimagine how and even why we work.

Future Systems discusses three traits of organizations that are future-ready: They are boundaryless, adaptable and radically human. How do these apply to talent in an organization?

Boundaryless: We have great human systems and tools available that allow us to reimagine work and break it down, so instead of thinking about jobs or hierarchy or org structures, we can think about how we delight clients, and how we can maximize every minute so that our experience is creating value for others. This means that we must think about our workforce differently, too.

Today, we are not bound to rigidly defined jobs and organization structures. Digital has transformed what work is performed by enriching and increasing the value of work. And it changes the employee experience, and who performs the work—by democratizing the workforce, individual preferences and expectations rule.

Adaptive: Our research on skilling, trust and transparency with 10,000 workers, 1,400 executives, and 44 company interviews showed that 82 percent of workers expect digital to transform their work in the next three years, but only 3 percent of executives plan to significantly increase investment in skills development programs.

The future is likely to be one in which employees and technology work together in new ways. We’ll still need people, albeit with new, different and constantly-evolving skills. In fact, 90 percent of people expect part of their jobs to be automated in the next five years and they are eager to learn new skills now to prepare for the future workforce.

Businesses need to re-skill at speed to ensure that the talent they already have becomes the talent they really need. That will require multiple initiatives: diagnostics and data insights to understand where everyone is on their personal development journey; well-designed real-time learning to quickly equip individuals with the right skills; and programs that help them become more mobile within the organization.

By energizing people to continuously grow and activate their learning, we are moving large groups through new-skilling to fill capability gaps at massive scale and enabling businesses to pivot quickly. Unlocking hidden skills and talent can release fuel for growth, for business and for individuals.

Radically human: It is getting more challenging to attract and retain a workforce. Businesses, especially once they have invested in new skilling, need to keep their talent highly connected, engaged and motivated. As the lines between life and work are blurring more than ever, people are bringing their sophisticated consumer expectations to the office—they're expecting hyper-personalized, immediate experiences that are actual extensions of themselves. By delivering these experiences, individuals will conquer complexity, channel their creativity, elevate their thinking and reach their fullest potential to make the greatest difference through their work.

In conclusion, Future Systems remove traditional boundaries, create an agile ecosystem, adopt new skilling initiatives and see their workforces as truly human. Businesses that see the value of pivoting to the new will unlock the hidden value trapped in their organization and the unique potential of people to fuel growth to lead disruption that advances industry and society.

Eva Sage-Gavin

Senior Managing Director – Talent & Organization Consulting

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