As venues for information sharing, webinars tend to be pretty emblematic of the Digital Age. On the one hand, it’s their use of the web that helps scale and broadcast what you hope are important messages to attendees far and wide. But on the other hand, “in the moment”, they can be disembodied; it’s tough to get a “read” on your crowd, how the messages are going over, and as the clock counts down “and in 3…2…1… Go!,” the on-air light illuminates: It’s show time. No pressure.
So, along with Ben Pring, what a delight it was to take the webinar stage last week for “21 More Jobs of the Future: Humans Needed!” with author and technology humanist Kate O’Neill and moderated by Steve LeVine, Future Editor at Axios.
While our physical venue was a soundstage in Boston, having both Kate and Steve along for the ride made for a fun, far-reaching discussion of both big-picture and specificity on the Age of Algorithms, Automation and AI. When those moments happen, 60 minutes goes by in the (fun) blink of an eye.
Moreover, we seemed to resonate and make an impact with our audience: How do we know? We invited questions from the audience, and got back some great ones, which are summarized below. The answers also give some "go deeper" links into the research and writing we continue to do at the Center for the Future of Work.
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Q: Trying to determine how to manage/administrate these new [digital] environments. Work with those technically trained but not necessarily process oriented.
A: The future of work (and calibrating existing roles to jobs of the future) is going to require excellence in organizational change management. But it goes beyond simple OCM – there’s a culture element to that change as well. A great primer on what needs to happen can be found here, in one of our newest reports from the Center for the Future of Work: “The Culture Cure for Digital”
Q: In addition to what we have to know and what we have to do, how do we need to BE to thrive in the future digital era?
A: That is such a great “big picture” question to ask, on top of all the other “to-dos”! Ben Pring took a start at answering this question on our futureofwork.com blog way back in 2018. From “Be funky” to “Be curious”, his sage advice for how “to BE” in the Age of Automation, Algorithms and AI is still relevant, enduring and applicable: “How to Beat the Robots”
Q: Tell us more about Chief Purpose Planner.
A: The Chief Purpose Planner is one of the longest-range roles on our newest list of “21 More Jobs of the Future”. If you click on the link, you can find the full JD/analysis on page 52 of the whitepaper. In summary, the role entails the following: As chief purpose planner, you’ll help shape and promote a defined corporate purpose that aligns with both clients’ customers and employees… Your role will be to develop a corporate purpose strategy and narrative, then work as a communication catalyst across the client’s company. You’ll identify social causes, align stakeholders, negotiate purpose agreements, secure funding and encourage the flow of information, ideas, content and influence with internal and external stakeholders. This positive reinforcement will instill long-term positive attitudes around the organization and the products and services it sells.
Q: How do you think is going to affect the world economy?
A: In our comprehensive, 2016 study “The Work Ahead”, the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work partnered with Roubini ThoughtLab (a leading independent macroeconomic research firm founded by renowned economist Nouriel Roubini) to understand just that issue. The analysis revealed that the impact of digital transformation on just the industries within the scope of our study (retail, banking, insurance (health and P&C), manufacturing and life sciences) between 2015 and 2018 alone could be up to $20 trillion. (For more information on the entire “Work Ahead” series, please click here.)
Q: How would experience economy apply to supply and logistics?
A: Here’s an example of the power of how the new, immersive technologies of the Experience Economy (namely, AR & VR) might “melt” different sectors: Imagine if Tesla had invented Pokemon Go! instead of Niantic, and with all due consideration given to safety, suggested different routes and streets to take to rack up points, and working with Waze, helped to pick apart the Gordian knot of reducing traffic congestion? Taking this further into a future world suffused with autonomous trucks, on our recent autonomous trucking report (“No Hands”) we proposed a few future jobs that might directly apply this type of thinking to supply and logistics. Specifically a model of long-haul trucking employees we dubbed “The drone jockey”: today, technology companies Starsky and Sweden-based Einride already aim to remove drivers from the cabs for even local routes through remote operation. So almost like a drone pilot does today, such an arrangement would allow drivers to control up to 10 trucks daily from a remote operation center, without waiting for transfers of freight. Overlaying a gamified, “Experience” model could certainly apply to drive outsized performance. Also, outside the Center for the Future of Work, there’s a great discussion from last week here (c. the 15 minute mark) with Elon Musk about the impact of supply and logistics on Tesla’s production lines. All pieces of a part in the future of work…
Q: What was the name of the company that Ben mentioned that provides an AR overlay from your phone?
A: The name of the company Ben talked about was Blippar. For a full picture of some of the promising AR examples we’re seeing across myriad industries, see the “Business Journeys” section in our whitepaper “Augmenting the Reality of Everything” (and also in fun videoformat too! And if you have access to a VR HMD, you can watch it in full 3D immersion…)
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As promised, we wanted to provide answers to some of the ones we couldn’t respond to in our one-hour timebox. In that spirit, hopefully the answers to these questions helps make the webinar a little more human-scale, and less disembodied. And along with Steve and Kate, for those of you who asked such great questions, we thank you!
Let’s keep the conversation going – and go build the future of work… together!