We’re on the verge of a defining moment in the evolution of work. Our core assumptions about how we spend a third of our lives and what it means for professionals are changing as we speak driven by a workforce that expects convenient, relevant, and responsive experiences. What impact will the future workflow have on professionals and how will organizations create them?
In 1965, email was invented as a way of leaving messages among different users on the same computer. The medium proved so useful, it not only predates the internet by a wide margin, it spawned the advent of the internet itself. The impact electronic mail would have on the way we work and communicate, was, at the time, unimaginable.
Today, we’re on the verge of another defining moment in the evolution of work. Our core assumptions about how we spend a third of our lives and what it means for professionals are changing as we speak, driven by a workforce that expects convenient, relevant, and responsive experiences. While we’ve all become connected customers in our personal lives – with mobile phone and tablet apps taking the pain out of life admin tasks – as professionals, we have come to expect the same advanced technology in our work-life. Organizations are currently engineering an overhaul of the workflow as we know it to create these convenient, relevant, and responsive experiences in the workplace; and their use of advanced technologies is set to radically alter our notions of work.
The workflow revolution
According to Cal Newport, author of Deep Work, the role of multi-tasking in the future is not in removing technology but in developing new workflows. In his book, the Georgetown University Professor suggests that our hyperactive hive-mind is responsible for draining us at work and focus, not multitasking, will be the new IQ in the modern workplace. The Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi argues that working in flow leads to enjoyment and higher levels of satisfaction, in his seminal book Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. In other words, the future workplace is poised to surrender us to a positive state, leading to more innovation and job satisfaction, should we let advanced technology put an end to mundane multitasking.
A simple glance at the software-as-a-service market shows an apparent upsurge in companies that have made new and improved workflows center to their franchise. The likes of Salesforce, Workday, and IBM use cloud, mobility, data analytics, and social business, or what International Data Corporation (IDC) identifies as 3rd platform technologies, to craft new workflows for professionals. These technologies are also proving critical in improving customer experiences in the workplace and individual industries. As Nancy McKinstry, CEO at Wolters Kluwer, recently noted, “We’re experiencing an evolution from static information to dynamic information. At Wolters Kluwer, we are in the professionals’ workflow, which is imperative for us to provide them with expert solutions that demonstrate a measurable impact, whether it be saving the individual’s productivity or getting a better outcome.”
What exactly constitutes this workflow revolution? According to a recent IDC study, advanced technologies account for a 30 percent reduction in the time professionals spend on document-intensive processes and a 30 to 40 percent reduction in errors. In terms of improving the productivity flow, advanced technologies have led to a 25 to 30 percent increase in productivity. Another study estimates that business executives and managers stand to create a 36 percent increase in revenue and a 30 percent cost reduction, thanks to advanced technology.
At Wolters Kluwer, we believe creating the future of optimal workflow relies on four interdependent pillars: