Archive: Science & Tech

November 16th, 2013 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy, Innovation, Science & Tech | Comments Off

Future of Work, Talent Management, Knowledge Value

[This recent blog that I wrote originally appeared in the Cornerstone OnDemand "Future of Work" blog section, as I responded to a recent study by Cornerstone on the future of the American Workplace. Re-printed here by permission.]

The Future of Work: How Talent Management is Powering the Knowledge Value Revolution

The cultural, technology and generational shifts taking place in today’s workplace highlight how critically important it is that traditional human resources management continue to move not only toward integrating talent management processes, but also the notion of making these processes – and the technology that facilitates them – more employee-centric. These are not necessarily new developments, as smart human resource operations have been redefining themselves in terms of talent management and talent development quite a bit over the past five years. But the future of work itself makes the identification, management and development of talent ever more primary to the success of companies and organizations.

Helping People Work Smarter

The Japanese writer Taichi Sakaiya was perhaps the first to name the economic era into which we have moved the “knowledge value revolution.” His thesis was simple, and is evident all around us now, every day. He proposed that the traditional elements that gave products and services value – the value of the materials and labor that went into the product or service – were shifting toward a single dominant element. That element is the value of the knowledge contained in a product or service. The best way to understand the idea is to consider the smartphone in your pocket or purse. You chose that phone most likely because you believed that it was made by smarter people using smarter processes, and that the particular smartphone enables you to access knowledge more easily thus making you smarter. You may even believe that just owning that specific phone makes you look smarter when you use it. All of this adds up to “knowledge value.”

What does this mean for human resources? The ability of a company, organization or employee to succeed depends on their ability to acquire new knowledge on a continuous basis and apply that knowledge in an effective way. This insight demands that we think differently about talent management and talent management software. MTV’s “No Collar Worker” survey reveals, for example, that 89 percent of Millennial employees – who will comprise 75 percent of all employees by 2025 – think that it is important to be constantly learning at their job. Some of this learning may look rather traditional, involving classroom training and education. But I expect this style of company education to continue to become a declining percentage of organizational learning as talent management software and tools enable learning to become more social, collaborative and on-demand. Embedding collaboration into corporate learning so that employees seamlessly learn while working and work while learning is as fundamental to the future than ever before, and now possible in ways that were not available until recently.

Beyond a Separate Class of Employees

The concepts of continuous or on-demand learning are critical to the future of work, and obviously the smart application of talent management software can make the difference in meeting this need. We often refer to “knowledge workers” as though they are a separate class of employees, but what I am saying is that all work is becoming knowledge intensive. Thus future tools must provide real-time communication, quick and easy access to information on multiple devices from anywhere anytime, better collaboration through knowledge of who is available and where they are, and access to instant learning in small bites as the need arises.

Let’s play with some possibilities. The Cornerstone’s “The State of Workplace Productivity Report” notes that 58 percent of employees would be willing to use wearable technology if it helps them do their job. Imagine a bartender wearing augmented reality glasses, needing to learn a new drink recipe as an order is placed, and being able to do that simply by repeating the customer’s order out loud. Or imagine a repair technician in an auto shop or on the factory floor needing instant training on a new problem they have not faced personally before. Or imagine a lawyer wanting to brush up on case law or negotiation technique as they walk to a meeting. These kinds of scenarios are applicable to just about any job we can think of. Companies that combine access to learning software tools, cloud databases and access to the wider Internet – and that develop a culture of continuous learning – will gain an advantage in the development of their human talent.

The MTV survey also reveals that 80 percent of Millennials want regular feedback from their supervisors, 89 percent want their workplace to be social and fun, 50 percent would rather have no job than a job they hate, and that 50 percent also believe that “switching jobs helps you climb the corporate ladder faster.” Once again, smart talent management programs and software can contribute to meeting these needs of the future workforce. Providing a way to receive more regular feedback is a no-brainer. Using gamification to make the workplace more social, and also as a means of speeding up learning, should be a priority. As for creating jobs that people do not hate, enabling people to move between jobs (also referred to as talent mobility) is one proven strategy for helping with that. Continuous and on-demand learning systems will enable people to switch jobs more seamlessly without a massive drop off in knowledge and skills.

We live in a time when talent management tools, the nature of work, and the needs and desires of the future workforce are all converging in a way that enable us to reimagine the ways we hire, train, manage and engage employees. Those that take advantage of this convergence will win the future.

Continue Reading & Comment »

November 15th, 2013 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Art & Society, Business & Economy, Innovation, Science & Tech | Comments Off

The future of Work and BYOD and BYOM

[Last month I had the opportunity to help with the creation of a video for Cisco, in which Cisco futurist David Evans, futurist Stowe Boyd, and I talked about the future of the workplace as the availability of personal communication devices becomes more pervasive, their power greater, and their use more natural and integrated into every day life. The recent workplace phenomenon of a desire to "bring your own device" is a key indicator of this trend. At the same time that I was shooting that video (we hope to post it before too long from now), I was producing a guest blog for Cornerstone OnDemand, the human resources support company, commenting on their recent study on the future of the workplace and the workforce. Here is the blog I wrote for them, re-posted here by permission, which captures some observations where BYOD is going in the future.]

BYOD, BYOM, and the future of work
The other day I was with a team from a large multinational company. The team was preparing a presentation for the executive committee, and one of the team members proposed using a presentation tool he liked and was good with. But the other team members pointed out that the tool was an online application, and not formally approved by IT, and so it would be unwise to use it for the executive briefing.

This incident is something seemingly normal that occurs every day in the workplace – yet it is the perfect example of employees’ desires to bring their own device (BYOD), bring their own applications (BYOA) and bring their own tech (BYOT) to work to help with their productivity. The willingness of employees to do this was confirmed in the recent study of American workers conducted by Cornerstone OnDemand. The survey found that 37 percent of employees who currently use apps for work would be likely to spend their own money on work-related apps in the next twelve months if they felt the app would help them with their job. Even among employees who do not currently use apps for work, 20 percent expected to spend their own money for apps to increase their productivity.

In a world with thousands and thousands of apps available and new ones appearing each day, it is important for organizations to develop a policy on the use of apps and devices by individual employees. Generally, the advice is to make this policy one of openness to employee devices and apps. But the Cornerstone study reveals that many companies have yet to address this pressing issue.

When asked if their employers had policies on using applications for work purposes that are not provided by the employer, 43 percent said no, and 21 percent said they did not know.

When asked about company policies regarding the use of personal devices (smartphones, tablets and the like) for work purposes, 45 percent said their companies had no policies, and 15 percent said they did not know whether any policies were in place.

What kinds of applications are employees interested in? Here are the numbers:

ease-of-use

Now, an IT department could try to provide all of this, but they will never keep up with the flood of apps developed by entrepreneurs. So what is an IT department to do? I’d suggest that they begin the difficult process of redefining their role to providing a basic information access infrastructure, security standards and applications, and then, like the maestro of an orchestra, letting the individual artists show their stuff.

There are, in fact, companies who are allotting each employee a budget to buying technology and then not dictating what the specific tech should be. This is radical I know, but consider the dominant trends shaping the future of work.

BYOD + BYOA + BYOT = BYOM
Internet anthropologist and futurist Stowe Boyd, for example, suggests that first, every job is digital, second that every company is digital, and third that more and more functions can be performed by third parties. But the most important trend that Boyd cites is this: what is really happening with BYOD, BYOA and BYOT is that people want to bring their own mind to work. He calls it BYOM. Think about this. Our personal devices and the apps we favor have become a part of how we live, how we produce, how we think. Perhaps your essential app is one that keeps track of your travel, or tracks your exercise and diet in concert with your wristband, or enables you to conduct your banking anywhere, anytime. And this is not to mention the obvious apps that keep you in touch with your network and up to date, all the time. What the Cornerstone OnDemand study is saying, I believe, is that people want to bring not just their tech to work, but themselves.

On the Horizon
What is next? On the horizon and just coming into the marketplace are wearable devices. Google Glass is perhaps best known, as an example of augmented reality in which you wear a device that keeps you constantly imbedded in the virtual world even as you interact with the physical world. Joining Glass will be smartwatches that connect you to the Web, clothing, and, before long, smart jewelry and buttons that enable you to live in a world where the virtual and the physical are fully merged. The recent hiring of Burberry’s CEO by Apple is further demonstration of the intersection of fashion and tech. Why would you use such things? To see company information on demand, to access repair manuals, to connect to team members, to do things we do now with the devices we carry. The Cornerstone OnDemand study found that 66 percent of Millennial workers and 58 percent of all employees would use wearable technology if it enabled them to do their job better. If they saw a co-worker using wearable technology, 67 percent would feel curious and 12 percent would feel at a disadvantage.

I remember being at a conference this year of companies in a service-providing industry. A member of the Millennial generation gave a short presentation showing how he imagined their service professionals would use wearable technology in the near future, and he challenged the more traditional thinkers to open their minds to a new way of working. He was living proof of someone who wanted to BYOM to work. Smart companies will be moving in this direction.

Continue Reading & Comment »

November 15th, 2013 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Media, Science & Tech | Comments Off

The future is not all technology

I had a very interesting experience this week as I gave the closing keynote to the annual meeting of the Virginia Cable Television Association, in Williamsburg, VA. My topic was the events, trends and developments shaping the industry looking out over the next decade. You can view my slide deck below, with some of the imbedded video that I used, now available at SlideShare. Before too long we will have a video of my full presentation from the Association.

But back to the experience. In the program, as I usually do, I discussed the Millennial generation, who comprise all the new workforce now age 18-31, and their oft-cited moniker as the “digital native generation.” They are the generation most deeply imbedded in what I call the full-on network society. They are, currently, unplugging from Cable and going “over the top” as the industry likes to call it. When I was finished, among the people who gather around to chat was one young woman, one of about a half-dozen Millennials in this audience of mostly cable executives. She put a challenge to me, expressing frustration with being, essentially, stereotyped as technology obsessed. Instead, she asserted, Millennials are as likely to become less enamored of and imbedded in technology as the other way around.

Her comment immediately reminded me of the article I wrote the week before for FastCoExist.com, on the future of collaboration. They titled my piece “The Future of Collaboration is About Looking Backwards.” Check out the full think piece here, but using some stats from a study of the American workforce by Cornerstone OnDemand, in this article I was pointing out that while Millennials and other workers wish there was more collaboration in their workplaces, only 6% of Millennials and 5% overall would prefer to collaborate via phone of video conference. 60% of Millennials and 72% of all workers would prefer to collaborate in person. The remaining numbers would prefer to collaborate online. But, here were some numbers supporting my young Millennial questioner at the Virginia Cable TV show – don’t pigeon hole them as technophiles only, as they just might lead a move back to the future, in person.

See the Fast Company article here, and the SlideShare of the keynote below.

Continue Reading & Comment »

November 13th, 2013 | By Contributing Writer | Posted in Art & Society, Business & Economy, Environment & Energy, Science & Tech | 1 Comment

A Greener Future With Self Driving Cars

DJ006-Driverless-Car-Infographic

Infographic by http://www.360financial.com.au/

By Mary Ann Keeling

In case you aren’t yet familiar with self-driving cars, the name pretty much says it all. Imagine phoning a taxi, the car pulls up, but there’s no driver inside. It’s just an empty car, ready to take you to where you need to go. Aside from that example, there are countless benefits to self-driving cars and they’ve actually proven, thus far, to be a lot safer than one might think. Not only that, but this trend has huge potential to help the environment and to take away some of the strain we’re putting on Mother Nature through our automobiles.

Google’s Self Driving Car
Over the past couple of years, Google has had self-driving cars driving around California. Even on the busy streets of Los Angeles, it’s absolutely incredible how safe this car has proven to be, even though it’s an early model. In all the time this Google car spent on the road in LA, a place notorious for gutsy drivers and terrible traffic, the car has only been in one accident. Guess what? When that accident happened, it was one of the rare times when there was a human driving the car. So, the car’s self-driving feature has proven to be safer than when the car has a human driving it. Now, this is just one piece of anecdotal evidence, but with the amount of automobile accidents and injuries that occur each year, even a small % reduction is welcome.

There are, however, some legal issues standing in the way of Google’s self-driving cars. First of all, they’re not getting much help from automakers, who are reluctant. Automakers are more focused on assisted driving, rather than full-on self-driving cars. Other downfalls are that these cars have trouble recognizing traffic cops and their hand gestures, or knowing where the lane markers are on the road when there is snow. If construction is going on, and the routes are different than on their maps, that also poses a set of risks. Needless to say, there are some kinks that need to be ironed out before self-driven automobiles are ready for the mainstream.

When Will These Cars Be Ready?
Currently there are about a dozen self-driving cars on US roads according to Google. Together, they’ve traveled 500.000 miles or more in beta tests. In the next five years they will be available on the market. In new Navigant research it is stated that by 2035 sales of autonomous vehicles will reach more than 95 milion worldwide (per year!). That’s about 75% of all light duty vehicles sold. Nissan has recently stated that they see 2020 as a target for self-driving cars to hit the roads in a major way. Assisted driving cars are already available, for example cars that have features to automatically parallel park for you, making an easy task out of of one of the most dreaded driving maneuvers. A more-optimistic Google has set 2018 as a realistic target, staring they are aiming to have some form of self-driving cars on the roads by 2018, and with their prototype in Los Angeles they’re well on the way.

How Does This Make The World Greener?
Cars driving around still need to be fueled, but the ways in which self-driving cars can pave the road to a greener tomorrow go beyond that. First of all, with fewer accidents there is less of a need for people to buy new cars to replace ones that are beyond repair, therefore less parts going into the scrapyards and landfills. Some parts from wrecked cars are recycled, but for the most part they’re just wasted.

Thanks to vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication systems, autonomous cars and trucks could significantly reduce traffic congestion and traffic accidents. And it’s about time, as no new car safety feature has been introduced since early 2000s and the use of airbags in vehicles.

In the introduction of this article, we talked about the idea of self-driving taxi cabs. If you can fit 5 people into a car, rather than 4, this will mean that in some cases people will only need to order one cab for their group of friends rather than 2, which cuts the emissions for the trip in half. This isn’t a huge deal, but every little bit helps when it comes to making the world a greener place for future generations, right? Also, that’s just one example.

Tesla Throws Their Hat Into The Ring
Finally, here’s the big one. Are you familiar with Tesla Motors? They make, arguably, the coolest electric cars out today. They started off with a luxury roadster, now their current model is a high-end sedan, but in the coming years Tesla will be releasing a car at a price point that’s much more accessible to the average consumer, thus bringing electric cars into the mainstream. That covers the green side of things, but what about self-driving? Well, recently Tesla Motors has announced plans for extensive research to put themselves at the front of the pack in terms of self-driving cars, so the logical conclusion is that the next breed of self-driving cars will also be powered by electricity and take a much smaller toll on the environment. It’s a double-whammy of green!

Final Thoughts On Self-Driving Cars
There are many advantages to self-driving cars, especially when you consider that someone could drive themselves and their friends out for a night on the town, and have the car take them home safely. Also, it should help a great deal for truckers who have to drive long shifts and worry about falling asleep at the wheel. Assisted driving is almost certainly the next step, we expect to see some degree of self-driving vehicles that still require some form of human interaction, but completely self-driving cars don’t seem to be too far away!

Continue Reading & Comment »

October 18th, 2013 | By Mallory Smith | Posted in Art & Society, Science & Tech | Comments Off

Next Up: District 9

FINAL sci-fi_movie_email_v1As you heard last month, we are sponsoring an educated sci-fi film series at  Henry & Oscar’s  in Seattle. Last month we had the pleasure of hearing Brenda Cooper talk about Blade Runner and next week we’re meeting up again to learn more!

On Wednesday, October 23rd listen and learn while acclaimed author and futurist Ramez Naam explains current scientific research and technological applications behind the ideas in the award-winning film District 9.

Click the image on the left to enlarge and read more details about these events. And note, if you RSVP by the day before the film, admission is free!

Continue Reading & Comment »

Page 3 of 2412345...1020...Last »