Most people understand the concept of Web 2.0 — it is the integration of innovative, online technologies, user interactivity and collaboration, pervasive network connectivity, multimedia, and open-source solutions.
The term emerged during the early 1990s, when enhanced broadband frequencies enabled more and more people to connect to the internet. Web 2.0 soon became a platform where people could connect, communicate, share, and create in a unified space. Web 2.0 is the driver of 21st century communication, collaboration, and productivity, affording us collaborative tools, mobility, and video presence.
While the grounding pillars of Workplace 2.0 are valid, they are no longer compelling considering the technological and human potential in the 21st century. Modern-day business leaders and top organizations seek a new approach to business management, innovation, and overseeing employees.
The era of the internet has caused a widespread focus on processing networks, bandwidth, big data, and collaborative platforms, but as our technologies and online communication continue to evolve and become increasingly sophisticated, the workplace is afforded an array of tools and platforms with which to enhance and facilitate collaboration, productivity and efficiency. Considering today’ cutting-edge developments and tomorrow’s possibilities, Workforce 2.0 is a more progressive approach for the 21st century.
Workforce 2.0 centers not only on technology, interactivity, and collaboration, but concentrates on employees, their unique contributions, and integration.
Integration ensures business applications, customer management tools, and third-party services can connect with one another and seamlessly transmit data and perform functions. The expression of integration in Workforce 2.0, however, also means the integration of people and shared services. Organizations must operate with total transparency so that all employees understand the business goals and work together to achieve them. However, the foundation of Workforce 2.0 extends beyond any individual workplace or organization; it comprises the entire global workforce as digital channels have enabled us to interact across space and time and has constructed a sharing society.
Business leaders must foster workplace integration and encourage collaboration and shared services. That said, the shift of focus has also turned to the integration of the entire workforce through communicative interfaces, meeting tools, and collaborative platforms — colleagues from similar disciplines can come together to share knowledge and ideas, discuss challenges and solutions, and contribute to a body of knowledge from which all have access.
Deciding which management applications, customer data tools, integrated benefits administration systems, and communication platforms to implement into one’s business operations is one of the most confusing and exciting decisions a CEO can make — and justifiably.
With Web 2.0 technologies, we now have the ability to use digital tools to extend human inquiry, perspective, insight and expressions. Powerful new developments have afforded greater memory, astonishingly real graphical interfaces, real-time transactions and communication, greater mobility and data transmission, intelligent data analytics, enhanced user experiences, robotics, automation and artificial intelligence.
With all that said, organizations must adopt technologies that focus on the end user. The most important participant in the conversation of implementing new technology are the actual employees — the users — who will be using the technology to execute, manage and control their major tasks.
Your employees are experts in their field and hold the longest tape measure to the technologies you provide them. Today’s Workforce 2.0 technologies are purposeful, flexible, scalable, and robust enough to perform the critical business operations that your employees need them to do.
Furthermore, while it is becoming increasingly evident that transferable technological skills are a must-have in Workforce 2.0, in reality, much of the population is less than tech savvy. Instead of deploying a technology that is so complex and confusing that your employees cannot use it, much less extract data in a meaningful way, it is beneficial to partner with a technology vendor that provides easy-to-use, intelligent, customizable applications and outstanding customer service to back it up.
Lastly, the cost and adaptability of any technology or third-party service is of concern. Not only should all of your business applications and tools integrate, but Web 2.0 technologies are easily deployable, secure, and can adapt to changes in the market and industry in order be a long-term solution.
The core of Workforce 2.0 is employees, and enhancing their talents and skills. You can be the best business manager and produce a sound product, but if you do not have talented, motivated, and dedicated employees working for you, your business — the organization — will not be successful. You will not be able to move the business forward and continue to innovate.
People are your most important asset because knowledge work is what enables organizations to continue to innovate. Your knowledge workers are irreplaceable because each holds a uniqueness composed of talents, skills, and personality that cannot be replicated with technology or software. The dynamic character of an organization is expressed through its people — not digital artifacts.
A focus on employee engagement and recognition of individuation contributions will ensure your employees know their value and worth. After many years of “disconnection,” “the year of the robot,” and “automation,” more and more employees want to work for a company that values its people and allows them to utilize their skills and abilities to help grow the company and move the company forward into the future.
Technology can pump out comprehensive, ample data analytics about customers, consumer purchasing power, and the market landscape in general, but it is the powerful minds of the people that will launch an organization into success.
Encouraging collaboration and employee enrichment increases individual performance and confidence, and as a result, intellectual integrity. This is the highest level of corporate integration: when trust develops among collaborations and compels them to bring their best work and contribute their best thinking to the organization’s efforts.
The Future of Workforce 2.0
What underlies the malaise of so many organizations worldwide is that their theory of business management no longer works in our (digital) corporate landscape.
Business leaders and top organizations today must get on the bandwagon of a new, mixed methodology incorporating integration, technology, and people.
By integrating flexible technologies and embracing knowledge work, organizations will be able to continue to innovate and showcase their unique product or service in the competitive market.
Certainly, the concept of Workforce 2.0 is not without imperfections, but just as our past successful leaders and advances in technology have taught us — our world is shaped by technology, innovation, and people. Thus, Workforce 2.0 merely defines the contours of a successful, effective workforce as we grow and mature as a working society.
This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Workflow.