I have a new article that I put together with my frequent collaborator Chris Carbone of Innovaro on the Future of Knowledge Work published in Employment Relations Today. It explores how knowledge work is being reshaped by a variety of social and technological forces that together will alter how it is distributed, organized, and performed in coming years. It is based on a research project by Innovaro (then Social Technologies) that used scenario planning to explore four possible futures for knowledge work and was conducted on behalf of 17 sponsors. The domain map below shows how we framed the research.
The scenarios suggest a range of plausible outcomes for knowledge work out to 2020. Virtual Teams Collaborating suggests a future most similar to today, where present trends continue and strengthen and enable a quite manageable transition to a greater reliance on knowledge work. Back to Basics, on the other hand, presents a plausible picture of how a greater reliance on knowledge work is not a given, as tough economic times and security concerns compel a retreat to a world of work more like the past than the present. Socially Centric Work also presents a series of challenges to knowledge work, but in this scenario they are successfully resolved, relying on a much greater integration of social networking tools to manage the transition to the world of knowledge work that goes deeper than Virtual Teams Collaborating. Finally, Personalized Professions presents a more provocative view of knowledge work that has a transformative effect on how work is done, leading to a future in which all workers are thought of as knowledge workers.
It is interesting to note that the trend to more of the 5 “izations” — digitization, collaboration, globalization, virtualization, and personalization — is present in three of the four scenarios, varying in timing and the extent of penetration. Only in Back to Basics, where I/T security concerns are front and center, are the “izations” stalled. Andy Hines