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“It’s 2020 and you arrive at your office for what you think is yet another ordinary day. As you commence your day, the day’s appointments are displayed in front of you and your digital assistant begins to speak, giving you a quick rundown of the many new posts on your personalized social collaboration portal. Your touch screen helps you delegate tasks, cascade priorities, provide approvals to your team in the next ten minutes. You, thereafter, deploy a quick pulse survey to get a feel for (your staff) the mood for the day!

This was your morning as you started from your home! You look at your smart watch, your 20 20 smart Google glasses, and as you walk, crossing downtown shopping towards your office, you observe your favorite Salvatore Ferragamo tie at a window display and your smart glass displays prices, choices, styles and locations to shop. It shows how would it look on you, if you were to wear it with your favorite blue pin striped sit. It also suggests a matching tie pin and cuff links. You know you can place an order as you walk and it will be delivered to you at your office before EOD.

Having reached the subway metro station, you digitally pay your fares, as the biometric screen recognizes you, charges your credit card on your smart phone, thanks you and opens the revolving gate, of course you could have tapped and walked in too. You actually have multiple ways to pay, many ways to enter your train station for that matter. Your EA, who had in parallel monitored your morning on her mirror screen has already sent in your appointments to your digital memory on your eye glasses, which in turn had booked your cab for a customer meeting, and a message has also gone to the restaurant for a table booking. Reports and notes for your meeting have been uploaded on to your DiGiPAD.

Cut to Now! At lunch, coffee and your Fettuccine Alfredo has been prepared by your friendly restauranteur, (happens to be a robot) based on a digital request, your digital assistant had made, to perfection. And your customer grins at how thoughtful you are as she sips a, “tall skinny latte with a double shot, Decaf, Columbian, Black, No Sugar, a slice of lime”.

Declares MIT SMR - “Just whisper the word “disruption” if you want to scare the life out of many business leaders. But contrary to some claims, disruption can be averted, and many businesses find ways of managing through it” in “Keep Calm and Manage Disruption” MIT SMR Spring 2016 writes, Joshua S. Gans.

So? So what is this all about? “Currently, only top managers have human executive assistants, but in the near future, everyone who has a smartphone can have a digital executive assistant. This will be made possible by the “mobile cloud” — technology that integrates the convenience of the mobile phone with the power of cloud computing. The mobile phone interface will shift toward interactive voice communication — just like communicating with a human assistant — but your digital agent will be able to access and search vast amounts of information in the cloud almost instantaneously, enabling quicker and better decisions. Setting up meetings, making appointments, organizing trips, coauthoring documents, and accessing databases and dashboards will all become much simpler, more intuitive, and more convenient. Today, the low-cost communications and computing power available to even small enterprises is dramatically more powerful than what even the largest multinational corporations could afford 20 years ago.

This has led to the growth of “micro-multinationals” — small startup firms that are born global. Real-time machine translation will make global operations even easier. One person can speak English while the other hears a real-time translation into Chinese. This is now possible in the lab but will be available to everyone within the next few years. Management inherently involves organizing groups of people to get things done, and communication is a key piece of organization. In the future, there will not only be more person-to-person and person-to-agent communication, but more agent-to-agent communication. How will this work? Suppose that you want to meet with a colleague. You will ask your digital agent to negotiate with his or her digital agent to schedule a meeting. When the meeting happens — either in person or online — both of your agents will listen in on the meeting and transcribe the results into text that can subsequently be searched and accessed as needed.

The meeting notes can be algorithmically edited and summarized. in, “Executive Assistants for Everyone”, by Hal R. Varian (Chief Economist - Google) in MIT SMR 2016. He continues, Your digital agent will send a note to your friends — really your friends’ agents — suggesting a get-together after work. The agents will pull together a list of suggestions about where to meet, and your friends can indicate their preferences, allowing the agents to find a consensus location. The agents can remind their masters when to leave so as to arrive on time, and if someone is late, his or her agent can notify the others”.

So Today! The world has changed for people; organizations are hyper active to bring this new world to their staff to engage them and beat the war for talent. As it changes, expectations of your staff changes and these are not conscious but those that are sublimely making its impact on people and their personalities, their likes, dislikes and the way they begin to engage socially with other colleagues, customers and vendors. “And an average day of a CHRO has changed forever. HR management systems (HRMSs), applicant tracking systems (ATSs), learning management systems (LMSs), and most payroll and benefits applications were created to streamline the work of HR administration, improve record-keeping, and help redesign HR processes. Although employees were considered the “end-users” of these systems, they typically used them as little as possible, and mainly as replacements for the paper forms developed by HR”, says Bersin by Deloitte. “Workers on the factory floor have suddenly gathered at a point along the production line. Some are scratching their heads. Others are gesticulating wildly. Most stand with their hands in their pockets. Something is wrong, and no one has thought to call management. In the near future, scenes like this one will be obsolete. Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI), managers will be alerted to workplace anomalies as soon they occur. Unusual behaviors will be identified in real time by cameras and image-processing software that continuously analyze and comprehend scenes across the enterprise.

The hunch-based bets of the past already are giving way to far more reliable data-informed decisions. But AI will take this further. By analyzing new types of data, including real-time video and a range of other inputs, AI systems will be able to provide managers with insights about what is happening in their businesses at any moment in time and, even more significantly, detect early warnings of bigger problems that have yet to materialize. As a researcher, I learned to appreciate the value of early warnings some years ago, while developing algorithms for analyzing data from hospital emergency rooms and drugstores. We discovered that we could alert public health officials to potential epidemics and even the possibility of biological warfare attacks, giving them time to take countermeasures to slow the spread of disease, in “Predicting a Future Where the Future Is Routinely Predicted”, Andrew W. Moore MIT SMR 2016. He continues, “Executives wouldn’t need to wait weeks or even days for a survey to be completed; these systems could tell you the emotional state of your customers right now”.

A 1900s Retrospective - Compare this with a retrospective from a legendary thought leader Alfred D Chandler in, “Organizational capabilities and the economic history of the industrial enterprise” published in Journal of Economic Perspectives, Summer 92,. “A new type of industrial enterprise appeared suddenly in the last two decades of the 19th century. Throughout the 20th century, these firms were created and continued to grow in much the same manner, and they continued to cluster in industries with the same characteristics. These industrial firms first appeared as modern transportation and communication networks were completed--networks that themselves were built, operated, enlarged and coordinated by large hierarchical firms. By the 1880s, the new railroad, telegraph, steamship and cable systems made possible the steady and regularly scheduled flow of goods and information, at unprecedented high volume, through the national and international economies.

Never before could manufacturers order large amounts of supplies and expect their delivery within, say, a week; nor could they promise their customers comparable large-scale deliveries on some specific date. The potential for greatly increased speed and volume of production of goods generated a wave of technological innovations that swept through western Europe and the United States during the last decades of the 19th century, creating what historians have properly called the Second Industrial Revolution (to differentiate it from the "first" that occurred in Britain at the end of the 18th century, through the application of coal produced steam-powered machinery to mining and the production of textiles, metals and metal products). Old industries were transformed, including the making of steel, copper and aluminum; the refining of oil and sugar; the processing of grain and other agricultural products; and the canning and bottling of the products thus processed. New industries were created. In chemicals, new processes produced man-made dyes, medicines, fibers and fertilizers. New mass-produced office, agricultural and sewing machines quickly came on the market, as did heavy machinery for a wide variety of industrial uses. The most revolutionary of the new technologies were those that generated and transmitted electricity for lighting, urban traction and industrial power. These new industries drove economic growth and played a critical role in the rapid reshaping of commercial, agrarian, and rural economies into modern, urban industrial ones. The newly formed enterprises that created and expanded these industries almost immediately began to compete in international markets. Firms in these transformed or new industries differed from older ones, like textiles, apparel, furniture, lumber, leather, publishing and printing, shipbuilding and mining.

The new firms were far more capital-intensive, and able to exploit the potential of economies of scale and scope made possible by the new technologies of production far more effectively. These potential cost advantages could not be fully realized unless a constant flow of materials through the plant or factory was maintained to assure effective capacity utilization. If the realized volume of flow fell below capacity, then actual costs per unit rose rapidly. They did so because fixed costs remained much higher and "sunk costs" (the original capital investment) were also much higher than in the more labor-intensive industries. Thus, the two decisive figures in determining costs and profits were (and still are) rated capacity and throughput, or the amount actually processed within a specified time period. (The economies of scale theoretically incorporate the economies of speed, as I use that term in The Visible Hand, because the economies of scale depend on both size--rated capacity--and speed--the intensity of which the capacity is utilized.)

In the capital-intensive industries the throughput needed to maintain minimum efficient scale required careful coordination not only of the flow through the processes of production but also the flow of inputs from suppliers and the flow of outputs through intermediaries to final users. In the new and transformed capital-intensive, oligopolistic industries, the first movers and challengers competed vigorously for market share in national and international markets. Although product pricing remained a significant competitive weapon, these firms competed even more forcefully through functional and strategic efficiency: that is, by carrying out processes of production and distribution more capably; by improving both product and process through systematic research and development; by locating more suitable sources of supply; by providing more effective marketing services; by product differentiation (in branded packaged products primarily through advertising); and by moving more quickly into expanding markets and out of declining ones. In this climate of oligopolistic competition, market share and profits changed constantly”.

The Millennial Emergence

The 21st century, however, presupposes an organizational systemic preparedness for gaining and retaining competitiveness in a global and native business scenario. Digital HR organizations bring in challenges significantly different from what has been so far experienced. The early 20th century predominantly focused on the manufacturing or the production priorities of the firm. The firm was treated as a mechanical outfit created to maximize products with labor as an important factor in the process. Thereafter, the sciences espoused manufacturing excellence with speed, automation of the human systems, socio-technical variables for efficiencies, scientific management, mass production, assembly line advantages, single product dominance and worker productivity.

What followed was the consumer era with the corporations prioritizing its energies towards creating and sustaining brands, products and life style interventions for the consumer. Sales and distribution networks were expanded to ensure reach, effective market penetration, identifying the consumer in the common person and ensuring product availability at his/her point of purchase. Supply chain efficiencies were dealt with as a single largest independent variable for ensuring customer satisfaction. The last two decades and the last quarter of the century realized the potential of the computer systems, electronic data processing, information management tools and techniques to help organizational data analysis, synthesis, decision support and primarily consolidation and retrieval. The systems were available through a process of aggregating the experience of users and technicians for corporate use and effectiveness. But an override was talent, in a learning organizational context.

Figure - Millennials Arrive

Figure – Millennials Arrive

Cut to 2023 - Why would Intellect dominate?

We are now at the threshold of the knowledge era – 2016, not way back in 1800, yet, there are so many aspects of transformation we seen the notes from Chandler that resonate even today; where intellect would dominate organizational processes; make information, data and learning only as a fundamental and necessary condition for knowledge creation and management. The analysis, synthesis, and enveloping variables would be people, process, technology and environment for making things happen. The knowledge organization environment, at least, in the first few decades appears to be quite predictable for organizational scientists. The emergence and happening of the tech knowledge era is for sure. Machine learning for example, cloud as a hosting solution or analytics as a driver for challenging thinking, or the power of social strata (read media) of the society making a corporate influence through glass door, tumblr and face book, In the knowledge economy corporate performance is measured by the return on the knowledge invested. In fact knowledge is a personal wealth when it is achieved and is a corporate asset when it is shared and institutionalized.

More than a quarter of the petrol we but owe its existence to an idea and late night scribbles in the notebooks of two Mobil scientists. They discovered that a synthetic catalyst could make crude oil yield far more petrol than ever. Their breakthrough led to a process that is now being used in nearly every major refinery in the world.

Resource Dependence will come down

Capital resources and asset management turn into “not so critical management parameters” for creation of shareholder wealth. While investing resources continues to be an essential ingredient for corporate competitiveness and retaining innovative advantages, money by itself would mean precious little to make or break a deal. Knowledge brought in and grown by the corporate determines organizational competitiveness and successes seen as fundamental for business survival. The premium for managerial actions is on the ability to attract, hold, and maximize the intellectual equity available within the corporate. Interestingly the cycle of maximization, optimization and minimization is inevitable in human capital management too. People bring in to their organizational settings a core set of knowledge, experience, competencies, skills, learning, training, demonstrated performance and potential. The summation of this set of parameters is the organizational intellectual equity. The environment necessitates global networks, connected business portfolios, functional linkages across geographies, resources grouping and sharing in a seamless, boundary less organizational space. It is an opportunity to invent anywhere and share in all necessary places as may be deemed appropriate.

Concurrently corporate environment and people manifested boundaries are seemingly disappearing. Corporate creation and management is no longer asset dependent and myopic in term. There is a distinctive alignment of objectives on what constitutes corporate wealth and should be nurtured and grown in value.

Discerning Client Needs

At the external influence scenario there is a critical focus on value imperative and making marginal improvement appear inconsequential. The customer does not pay for corporate inefficiencies and poor management. The opportunity to transfer in the short and medium term organizational handicaps to the customer or in some situations where environmental protection was available the inefficiencies continued and was shared with the customer indefinitely. Nevertheless, value and service imperative become fundamental, unarguably. The customer truly has limitless options to determine alternatives, evaluate concurrent advantages, make choices on a time frame that is open, transparent and easy to administer. In other words, the customer is under no compulsion to buy what is available at the first distribution location or be governed by ad factors that profile the products more attractively than what it delivers. Options have not emerged because corporate turned efficient in the consumer environment, but the environment in which the consumer shopped turned turtle. Products that were far and wide in reach and purchase-ability were now available at the current consumer environment for added value at an affordable price.

21st Century Implies Digital Tech

The knowledge organizational business is likely to cope with a dramatic managerial change given the advent of information technology and knowledge emphasis in the basics of management actions. The service trade-on meant more value at lower cost and the organizational product offering reflected choice, value, service and shopping advantage to the average consumer. The new order business necessitates aggressive IT investment, basically to remain competitive and cope with the changing environment. Service to the consumer necessitates core and purposeful IT investments meant to dramatically make the winning product difference.

Figure – Digital Tech Evolution

Why, because technology will substitute infrastructure

Technology should substitute infrastructure in any form. In the organization form of the firm structures turn wide and spread out across product, geography and functional boundaries. Forms could mean multiple business units connected by the value adding staff and a core corporate group. Functions and businesses need to integrate for effecting customer service. Yet functional and specialist compromises for depth of the intellect is counterproductive. Pyramids no longer should be repeated for each of the product segment with the SBU as a method for design effectiveness. The alternate forms of MBU (Multiple Business Units) with brand - market and product - manufacturing focus would turn more effective for the digital driven organization. All other services are available electronically. IT effectively connects people than otherwise through a traditional channel of HR.

"The HR technology market, which is now more than $15 billion in software alone, is exploding with growth and innovation," said Josh Bersin, principal, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP. "One of the most disruptive changes is the trend toward automating HR practices and integrating systems, making them so easy to use that people think of them as part of their daily life. By embedding and automating HR practices into applications employees use every day, HR 'systems of record' are becoming 'systems of engagement.' At the same time, these systems give leaders the real-time information they need to adapt to changing business and labor conditions."

Why, Because, technology will co-opt competition

The knowledge organization business presupposes cooperation and collaboration for effective competition. Market strategies to demonstrate dominance without value but by consumer influencers would turn counterproductive for corporate. Competition would but find inevitable to collaborate and cooperate to make the product offering aggressive to draw the customer towards it. The current trend in mergers of mega corporate that are successful with larger corporate is an indicator of the inevitable trend of large corporate cooperation. Yet the corporate need to bring in boutique products to suit the frills and thrills of a discerning consumer, make the manufacturing process mass customized; demonstrate manufacturing flexibility all make a satisfied customer. Wealth from manufacturing is being created by ideas, brainpower – design, logistics, marketing, sales and information systems.

Why, Because, technology will build the human society

Human society is infinitely complex and difficult to interpret and manage. Rarely do rational choices become the fundamental orientation for managing the human issues. Technology has only added to its complication. For companies to maintain and enhance its competitiveness a broad spectrum of understanding is essential to differentiate between compelling and not so compelling parameters in human management and technology interface. Large corporations derive a world view as they see the coexistence of human factors and technology imperatives that make organizations viable and growing. Now, thanks to cloud-based technology and a more commodity-like nature to many of the features, talent management providers can chose to build talent features and buyers are often willing to give up leading unique functionality for the promise of a single vendor talent management solution. It is not possible for integrated talent management vendors to include every innovation in the filed into their product road map, but can very well provide sufficient integrators and accelerators to bring them all together. While many of the standalone talent management companies will continue to specialize and excel, Talent Management Solution, for example, is growing aggressively year on year, on the same premise of excellence at employee experience level, when compared to launches by smaller institutions who may find it tougher to compete with large software solution providers such as Fusion. Infor, NetSuite, Cornerstone on Demand, Workday or Success Factors.

Why because - Performance Orientation will no longer be about the Rate (Ratings) Race

Organizations are created with some expectations. The stakeholder that includes the shareholders, customers, regulators have a variety of expectations from the organizations. The sum total of these expectations from the organization becomes the benchmark against which the organization is measured. Memorandum of Understanding, Expectation Agreements are some examples of such expectations. 360 degree feedback, yearlong feedback and coaching processes, on line, real time performance improvement conversation and so on.

Ganesh Shermon

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