The astute might already have noticed that we are currently going through a period of tremendous change. This is affecting all aspects of our lives. We are finding that technology is driving more and more of what we do, which affects all aspects of our life. Some might say that social media and mobile devices are the biggest and most fundamental technological change in society yet, though of course there were many others before such as the printing press and the industrial revolution, to name just a few. But either way, digitisation is creating a fundamental change in paradigm for many people and the way in which they live their lives. As Brian Solis (2014) argues:
“Technology fundamentally changes how people communicate, discover and connect…Specifically it affects how we learn, how we buy, how we work and how we influence and are influenced”.
Solis explains that we are guided by our “digital appendages”, namely our smartphones and tablets. But it is not these devices that change us, but our own behaviour, he opines. In particular, Solis believes that this will change how we work, and there needs to be a mind-set change in this regard, as well as to how we market and how we sell. While our life paradigm may have changed, the principles that guide this behaviour are antiquated according to Brian Solis.
Solis explains that while computers, laptops, mobile phones and even the internet have not fundamentally transformed how we behave, in fact social networks and social media have. Solis argues that all of our previous change was still managed in a “command and control” style and all of it was guided to drive productivity. However, changes in social media and mobile and particularly the two combined as well as cloud and real time data has changed all of this. It has led to a transformation in the working world. And Solis believes that the decisions that we make now will impact what is possible (or not) in the future.
The ones behind the way work will change in the future, are the digital natives, the ones most affected by social media. The following video, reviews the impact of social media in the way we communicate, and demonstrates how all of us, both the digital natives and the digital migrants are still discovering the digital world with fascination:
How Social Media Is Transforming Work
In Solis opinion digital natives are turning upside down the way people relate to work. If in the past people always build on “legacy investments and operational procedures” to define how the new technology would fit in to the current world of work, this process nowadays should be turned around. We need to visualise what the future will bring and what will be required of organisations, rather than rely on the tried and tested ways of the past. Those organisations that do this will be giant steps ahead of those that rely on legacy concepts and building on the old ideas. Indeed, Solis opines:
“We need to plan and build for the future… see the human drivers behind how people use technology in their personal lives”.
In Solis’s mind this will lead to greater collaboration and engagement. And it requires understanding “digital natives”. It is argued by Solis that only this intrinsic level of understanding will really enable businesses to be able to visualise, engage and scale the required infrastructure that will be necessary to be able to adapt the world of work and meet the needs of customers. Solis explains that the only way that this can be achieved is in understanding how “digital natives” work, and what we can learn from them. The main point being made is that if organisations are not proactive about this then they will naturally be reactive, and being reactive means being on the back foot all the time. It means building on old structures rather than understanding the new structures and developing those from the start.
Clearly there is much change to be made in the work place so that the impending future needs of workers and the work place as well as customers are met. Obviously a wide and far reaching approach may not necessarily be possible all at once, but as explained by Solis it is certainly necessary to change the overall approach, by understanding what we do not know about the future and trying to make sense of it before going ahead and building architecture that is ineffective and grounded in the ideas of the past. Only in doing that in a proactive manner will organisations truly be able to achieve their full potential, and both retain their employees and increase the numbers of loyal and engaged customers that they serve. As Solis writes:
“We have to understand how people’s behavior and expectations are evolving. With technology now part of the fabric of life and with innovation a constant, solving for behavior actually depends on making our future more human.”
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.