Wednesday, January 2, 2019

3 Moving-Target Issues Every Leader Must Be Following

Guest post from Alexandra Levit:


As a futurist, it’s my job to track the evolution of the 21st century organization, and as of late

we’ve come upon new challenges in reputation management, intellectual property, and digital transformation and disruption. Your challenge as a leader? Strive to fit these pieces together as the realities of our future workforce become ever more salient.

Reputation Management

As we approach 2030, the importance of online reputation will only increase. Now, reputation management exercises are largely undertaken in response to a crisis, once damaging information has gone viral. In the next decade, though, most organizations will become more proactive. Artificial intelligence and tracking software will help companies crack down on fake reviews and employment experiences, counteract negative commentaries with positive ones, and spot and address problematic situations more quickly.

By the same token, analytics advances will amplify consumer power, as reviews will be quantified to produce a master rating that can change by the second. Applying for a new job? Your phone might flash a warning that a company has dropped below the average in terms of employee desirability. You might decide to eschew your choice of restaurant when you suddenly receive an alert about health department citations. In other words, we will live in a Rateocracy.

To operate effectively in this climate, planning and investment is essential. Leaders must hire staff with specific oversight and responsibility for online reputation management. They must establish protocols for generating positive reviews and responding to negative ones. Using the most sophisticated tools available, reputation teams will track social media channels and other relevant forums to understand current sentiment about their organization, their competitors and their industry.

Intellectual Property

According to futurist Thomas Frey, author of Epiphany Z: Eight radical visions for transforming your future, future intellectual property (IP) issues will be focused on ownership, privacy and freedoms as new technologies will fit poorly into the existing legal frameworks.

Potential (and thorny) IP issues include: Will companies have the right to automatically control and use data that comes in from employees while they are at work? How can organizations prevent sensor networks from being hacked, monitored or stolen by outside forces? When the seamless interface of Internet of Things devices allows companies to search and learn all kinds of details about their customers and employees, who owns this information?

Besides answering these complex questions, which can’t happen overnight or in a vacuum, there are steps you can take to protect current and future IP that’s specific to your organization: Emphasize data security and protection, educating your employees and stakeholders about how proprietary data should be stored and shared. Use a single technology platform for all your IP so it’s easier to manage and update, and so you can eliminate redundancies. And finally, seek to grow your IP by developing employee skills and soliciting feedback from customers.


Digital Transformation and Disruption

Technology’s impact on the workplace has been discussed ad nauseum. However, most overlook how a company gets from here to there. That path is known as digital transformation, or the process of converting all or most of an organization’s operations to online or otherwise computerized mediums.

In most companies, total digital transformation is a long and at least somewhat disruptive process. Some colleagues will inevitably fight against change in favor of the status quo, and future-minded leaders require strategies to bring them into the fold.

Before you attempt to persuade colleagues to jump right into a specific initiative, provide a safe space to discuss disruption in general. Ask questions like: What technology-based disruptions are you seeing in your business? What concerns you about implementing new technologies for existing processes?

Go out of your way to attend forward-thinking industry events. The sessions and conversations you and your colleagues will have at conferences centered on digital transformation and disruption will take your thinking to another level. Encourage your colleagues and employees to see for themselves what digital transformation and disruption mean and what they can do for growth and profit.

Sometimes an internal leader can repeat the same message dozens of times, but no one really hears it until it comes from the mouth of an external consultant who is perceived as an expert. When it comes to embracing disruption, you might make greater headway by bringing on a single or team of advisers who can offer an objective picture of your organization’s digital transformation status compared to the larger market and can provide direction and next steps.

Alexandra Levit is the author of the new book Humanity Works: Merging Technologies and People for the Workforce of the Future (Kogan Page). A partner at People Results, she helps Fortune 500 and government organizations and their leaders prepare for the future of work through proprietary research, consulting, and program development. For more information, please visit  www.koganpage.com/humanityworks

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