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Over the past few weeks, we’ve celebrated our company’s 25th anniversary in many ways—with cake, contests, comedy shows, lunches, and giveaways—and with blog posts that take a look at our early days, how we have evolved and what we have accomplished over the years.

Future Shock by Alvin Toffler

Marking a milestone also means thinking about the future. Heeding the wisdom of Alvin Toffler, futurist and author of the groundbreaking book “Future Shock,” who said that “serious” futurists deal in possibilities, not predictions1, we do not offer detailed forecasts about the days ahead. We do have some ideas about direction, however—we see a future that’s people-centric and full of possibilities.

It will be more human-centered

Businesses are beginning to understand that people, not technology, drive success. Consider the ideological and cultural changes that organizations are making as they initiate digital transformation efforts. They are letting go of the “old way” of doing things—one-way communication, aversion to risk, and little or no cross-departmental interaction, for example—and starting to adopt approaches that encourage communication throughout an organization, prioritize technology adoption and mastery, and inspire innovation.

In Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report, the authors assert that there’s a direct correlation between employee happiness and improved business outcomes.

“For employees to be highly productive, they require clear role expectations, the ability to do what they do best, communication about their organization’s mission and purpose, and learning and development opportunities, among others,” according to the report.

Looking toward the future, it will become even more critical for organizations to adopt human-centric approaches—to build, not retrofit, systems that are designed for modern workers.

It will be learning-intensive

Organizational learning and development will undergo perhaps the most radical change in the coming years. Almost 50 years ago, Toffler said knowledge, more so than labor or materials, would create and sustain powerful societies. He forecasted the spread of information via computers and the internet.

What Toffler and others didn’t quite predict was how much the pace would change. In its 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, Deloitte notes that skills are becoming obsolete at an accelerating rate. Software engineers must now redevelop skills every 12-18 months, the report states, and people working in marketing, sales, manufacturing, law, accounting, and finance report similar demands.

To keep up, organizations must implement new models and new tools that promise rich, relevant, always-available, and continuous learning experiences. We’re already seeing a glimpse of how things are changing with tools like YouTube, and companies like Khan Academy.

Work will be always-on, time-sensitive, and ever-changing

We’ve already begun to inch closer to some of Toffler’s ideas about the future. Globalization and technology have created an always-on workforce, and corporate time already moves at a much faster pace than it did a decade ago. Organizations and employees seem to be stuck when it comes to accepting a new pace of change. As more companies embark on digital transformation initiatives, however, risk aversion and fear of change are fading. Each transformation effort—big or small, success or failure—brings us closer to a future mindset.

We’re looking forward to the future and the possibilities it will bring.

SIDEBAR

Survey Says…

We asked Vitalyst employees which technology or concept will have the greatest impact on the future. Here are some of their responses:

    • Regarding the creation of formulas in Excel, it might be that advances in speech recognition software combined with AI might enable someone without technical expertise to emulate or create a complex formula, or even possibly write a macro.
    • HoloLens for training in the medical field and other industries. 3-D simulation will change learning in a big way.
    • Smaller, smarter devices.
    • I’m holding out for a Star Trek Transporter.
    • The continued shift towards cloud computing. As mobile technology reaches ubiquity, cloud computing will become the way business is done. Period.
    • Quantum computing, because it will completely change how password complexity is rated.
    • Robots. They will end humanity.

1. See: “Future Shock,” by Alvin Toffler, Bantam Books (1970); and NPR’s All Things Considered, July 26, 2010.

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