Knowledge Workers Are the Emerging Heroes of the Digital World
by Jim Sinur
Organizations will be asking much more of the knowledge worker as the 21st century progresses. Routine work will be highly automated and optimized leaving the difficult work for knowledge workers to sort out. This work will consist of dealing with demanding interfacing with customers who are on their own journey with fickle loyalty; looking at emerging patterns; making wise decisions in context while predicting reactions to potential actions; and taking efficient actions while satisfying customers at faster speeds than ever in a dynamic environment.
This makes knowledge workers—at the operational, tactical, and strategic levels—the superheroes of the digital world.
As we all know, superheroes are superheroes because of their character, special powers, and assists. Our digital superheroes will have supreme interaction skills, incisive powers of great decisions, and the wise actions of a sage appropriate for the intersections of many contexts. The new digital world will not only assist knowledge workers like the utility belts and tools of superheroes, but will also guide knowledge workers to successful outcomes under a number of dynamic conditions at warp speed.
Dissatisfied Knowledge Workers and Customers
The way work is managed today is that any one business event is taken through all the specialties it needs to achieve completion. In fact, today’s societies engender the creation of narrow skill bands so that workers can get better at achieving the same task using the same skills over and over until they reach perfection or dronish boredom. This leads to dissatisfaction of the worker and consequently dissatisfied customers having to deal with multiple uncoordinated stacks of specialized skills to get their desired outcomes.
Nearly every great organization wants to be known for customer care, but companies are fundamentally organized in a way that defeats great customer care. Sure you can train your employees to treat people better. Sure you can enable technology to sense the mood of the customer. Sure you can have better mobile interfaces and feedback mechanisms to please customers. These are all great steps. However, if you force clients to traverse your departments because of your division of labor, you are starting in a hole and working your way back out of it to neutral.
Digital Assisted Generalists Are the New Way Forward
Divide and conquer is an old strategy that has spread beyond usefulness and its time. Yes, we need specialties, but let the technology do most of the specialty work. The industrial revolution ushered in the notion of specialties because people were more productive—that is, if you only gave them a few tasks to master over time. When people were dependent on their own knowledge and skills, this strategy made sense. Over time, people became smarter, and yet the work splits stayed pretty much the same. This made sense back in the 1800s and the early 1900s, but we are way past that in our abilities as a collective society. No wonder labor unions emerged.
Besides organizational abuse, we introduced boredom in the work place. I understand that only special people could be generalists back then, but there is no longer any excuse for keeping this old paradigm the dominant way to organize. It’s time to start the incremental transformation to real digital assisted generalists. With digital assists, knowledge workers will be able to do the following in better ways.
The new digital world will assist knowledge workers:
With Connection Across Specialties:
Because digital connects knowledge workers easily customers and other workers, along with communities, knowledge, content, and automated assistants, knowledge workers are super connected with all of the resources needed to delight customers and deliver on goals.
With Impossible Work Streams:
Because digital encourages customer journey maps, behavior sensing, and modeling, as well as provides advocacy for customers and other constituents, the super high expectations of customers can be met or surpassed by the knowledge worker.
With Awareness to Omniscience:
Because digital equips knowledge workers with super visualization through in-flight work journey maps, goal improvement analysis, better practice patterns, finding patterns of interest, and finding patterns of behavior in context with goal seeking guidance, they now have super awareness.
With Decision-Making to Better Precision:
Because digital can help knowledge workers decide when to be proactive or reactive, can condense or clarify stimuli from multiple directions, consider history or in-flight progressions, and suggest operational, tactical, or strategic alternatives, they now have a super focus for potential actions.
With Supercharging Cognition & Knowledge for Results:
Because digital can add super cognition to knowledge workers that can help decide both simple and interconnected decisions, give advice on potential actions, and take the action through resources, the knowledge worker can have a super thinking assist.
With Predictive Powers to Intercept the Future:
Because digital can help with process or case design, help tune business operations in near real time, help recognize emerging pre-planned scenarios, and suggest the tuning of business models, the knowledge worker can see into the future.
With Actions to Reach Desired Outcomes:
Because digital can apply all kinds of resources in near real time, it can arrange for things, bots, and machines to work together with coordinated human resources to optimize actions and learn from the situations. Digital can give the knowledge worker super powerful methods to adjust dynamically for shifting goals.
The knowledge worker will be the key resource in the digital age, but the knowledge worker will be made to be a superhero with all sorts of assists from many swarming agents of recognition, knowledge extension, decisions assistance, and action enablement. The utility belt in the digital world will be filled with many weapons of assistance to reach organizational outcomes that are consistent with dynamic changing goals.
This blog was originally posted at jimsinur.blogspot.com.