By exploiting technology to enable workforce transformation, leading companies will create highly adaptable and change-ready enterprise environments that are able to meet today’s dynamic digital demands.
This liquid workforce competitive advantage is apparent, as IT and business executives surveyed report that “deep expertise for the specialized task at hand” was only the fifth most important characteristic they required for employees to perform well in a digital work environment—other qualities such as “the ability to quickly learn” or “shift gears” were ranked higher.
The rapid pace of technology adoption is one key driver. As they pursue advantage from the latest technologies, many enterprises are experiencing a “skills gap.” Their investments are outpacing the labor market’s ability to provide the digital skills that’ll drive new strategies. What’s more, automation radically alters the in-demand skillsets, as machines begin to handle many routine tasks previously done by people.
Beyond technology-driven disruption, the employee pool itself is changing dramatically. For example, in the United States 43 percent of the workforce is expected to be freelance by 2020. This will transform how enterprises find and deploy talent. Even more immediately, in 2015, Millennials became the largest generation in the workforce. Their very different demands require new engagement strategies.
These leaders' characteristics include:
Willingness to work as part
Openness to new training
Technical skills for the job
Constantly evolving skillset
Massive open online courses (MOOCS):
One area of major investment is digital training platforms that pull together enterprise-developed learning into a single curriculum. Some, like Unilever, Monsanto and Citibank, are going even further. They’re seizing the initiative in developing the skills they need by partnering with local boot camps like Launchcode and General Assembly to develop relevant curricula, and then funnel graduates directly into related work.
End-to-end workforce management solutions:
Platforms like Oracle and SAP deliver important insights about workforce capabilities and readiness. What’s more, as the information they hold about the workforce increases, business leaders can evolve HR away from people management, to a new role as orchestrators, optimizing the organization’s entire output.
LEAN start-up practices:
GE is taking a new approach, called FastWorks, which emphasizes LEAN startup practices including autonomy, flexibility and iteration. It enabled GE Appliances to design and deliver a high-end refrigerator that sold twice as well as preceding models—all in less than a year.
Organizations’ new strategies leverage platforms like Upwork and SimplyHired to instantaneously hire deep technical skills.
It might sound like a challenging proposition. But the rewards are immense. Once organizations start to harness the power of a liquid workforce, they’ll find they can grow smarter and faster than they ever imagined. In the digital age, that’s not just desirable. It’s mission-critical.
Platforms are trending, and for great reasons. New business models are adaptable, scalable and interconnected.
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