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I Hear a Symphony

In a recent Deloitte report about the year ahead, the authors use music as a metaphor to describe how technology is transforming the nature of work. The report’s theme—the “symphonic enterprise”—is an idea that, according to the authors, “describes strategy, technology and operations working together, in harmony, across domains and boundaries.”

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For example, think about what it takes for an orchestra to play a symphony. Although each instrument group has its own section to play, the orchestra achieves harmony when all groups learn how to play a symphony together.

In business, working in harmony to achieve a set of common goals wasn’t always a priority. But, as we noted earlier in this series, work is changing. Over the past year, companies have begun or continued digital transformations. Business leaders have focused not on technology itself, but on its potential as an enabler—of productivity, collaboration, integration, and innovation.

Looking ahead to 2018, we expect that shift to pick up pace. The evidence is everywhere—the release of collaborative platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack Enterprise, the push toward integrated systems like Microsoft Dynamics 365, the reinvention of corporate learning and development, the availability and accessibility of data, among other factors.

Gartner Research provides further proof. In an article published in October, the firm highlights survey results showing that two-thirds of all business leaders believe that their organizations must pick up pace of digitalization to stay competitive.

Here’s what we see for the coming year:

1. The continued transformation of learning and development. Corporate L&D needs have changed dramatically in recent years. With more distractions, frequent software updates and rapidly changing business goals, it has become increasingly hard for workers to keep up with one-size-fits-all training. In 2018, organizations will continue to tinker with training—they will try out new approaches that deliver continuous learning in a range of formats, they will rethink their legacy systems, and listen more closely to feedback. The contrast between how people learn in their personal lives versus their professional capacities will fade.

2. A focus on data and “upskilling.” Data is nearly ready for its solo. With continued improvements to software like Microsoft Power BI, the increasing availability and accessibility of data, and the current and projected shortage of employees with advanced data skills, organizations will have no choice but to create their own data scientists.

3. Technology adoption—and to some extent, technology mastery—becomes a primary objective and ongoing pursuit. Nearly everything is becoming “as a service”—software, learning, security, and more. As a result, updates will roll out more often and functionality will change more frequently (and perhaps more radically).

These and other efforts are small but significant steps companies will take 2018. To meet the larger objective of digital maturity, organizations will increase their focus on equipping employees with what they need to achieve that goal.

Jen is an award-winning journalist who writes about workplace productivity and technology for Vitalyst. She believes in the power of using plain language, especially when writing about technology, and lists “achieving and enabling clarity” among her life goals.

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