The days of the knowledge worker are coming to an end. As businesses are gearing up to handle a mind-blowing amount of information, the sheer amount of data, the speed at which we need to process it, and the way we need to act on it to stay competitive is vastly surpassing the ability of traditional knowledge workers.
For years, they have gathered information, analyzed it, disseminated it, and enabled organizational decision making, but the future of work is rapidly evolving as new technology emerges. And the job roles that cannot fully embrace and adapt to these changes are quickly becoming obsolete.
When Peter Drucker established the concept of the knowledge worker, his foresight that information-driven employees would be the key to the future development of successful and innovative companies was spot on. In fact, it still holds true today when you consider that relevant, actionable information will remain the essential competitive parameter for businesses of the future.
What has changed since Drucker first formulated this concept is the growth of data, which exceeds a volume that any given group of employees can possibly analyze on their own. At the same, global businesses need to consistently react in real time. So while the underlying construct of the knowledge worker has been exceptionally important and valuable, companies now demand a new type of employee that can replace the knowledge worker and enable business decisions in the moment.
Enter the Digital Worker
The digital worker assumes a role enabled and driven by technology. With anytime, anywhere access to actionable, live data in a hyperconnected economy, the benefit of running a Live Businesses can be realized, where internal and external factors and influences are acted on exactly when needed for maximum competitive advantage.
Digital workers can bring a new level of operational speed, flexibility, and insight, which, in turn, frees up time to take on new responsibilities in the organization and to become a critical resource for decision making, learning, productivity, and management. From an executive perspective, this also provides an opportunity to delegate strategic decision making throughout the organization; reduce organizational bottlenecks, and complexity; and increase time spent on innovation.
Whether you are a knowledge worker and run an organization that employs a few, now is the time to consider their impact on overall goals and transition them into digital workers. If not, your competition surely will.
To read more on the major trends affecting the future of work and the impact of the digital worker, see my white paper on “Live Business: The Rise of the Digital Workforce.”
Michael Rander is the global program director for Future Of Work at SAP.