Future of Work...shall we stop trying to predict it?

Like Comment

This article is part of the Forum Network series on Digitalisation

We’d all like to know this week’s lottery numbers but that shouldn’t make predicting the future priority #1. This is particularly true in modern business. Let me explain why.

At Ricoh, we’ve spent many years investigating what the future of work will look like. As a leading printing and technology company it would be strange if we didn’t! Yet our priority here is not on predicting the future per se but perfecting the role we play in helping businesses to transition and succeed on their digital journeys.

Looking to the future, one thing’s for sure: digital will change everything – and I mean everything.

I was recently invited to join the OECD Forum in Paris to discuss how we’ll all be working in the not too distant future. This was a truly inspiring event that got me thinking. A lot. Not about the gadgets and gizmos we’ll be using in the years ahead but the skills and mindsets we’ll need to thrive in what is sure to be an even faster, better connected and more demanding world of work.

I left the event convinced about a number of things.

  • Thanks to factors such as automation, a company’s reputation will be more important than ever before. Think how buying behaviours have changed in the last decade. This is set to evolve at an unprecedented rate. But what does this mean for businesses? I believe those that flourish will be the ones that humanise technology and offer that personal touch. Key to this is agility and not being afraid to deviate from the agreed plan as required. Underpinning this with robust processes is essential.
  • In the next decade, digitisation will dissolve the tired notion of the traditional ‘office environment’ and the very concept of work as we know it.
  • I also think we’ll need to be more creative and social. This is because the growing use and sophistication of automation will lead to a scramble for workers with the most creativity and broadest range of social skills. We all expect robotics and artificial intelligence to pick up the more repetitive tasks. And that’s a good thing, as it will make us a more collaborative and engaged workforce.

But, most of all, I am convinced that man and machine will continue to co-exist and complement one another. For me, these aren’t predictions – they’re certainties.

Related Topics

Future of Education & Skills

Javier Diez-Aguirre

Vice President, Corporate Marketing, CSR & Environment, EMEA, Ricoh Europe

Javier is a world-class and award-winning (fully deserved) international marketer on a mission to get marketing better represented in the boardroom. He is a self-confessed vessel of charisma who believes that marketers need to stop moaning, ditch the jargon and become more business-minded if they want to get the recognition they crave from the almighty board. Fluent in three European languages, he’s studied and worked in various countries around the world. This makes him a master of cultural nuance, a great travel guide, worldly beyond his youthful looks but a nightmare for his accountant. His truly global approach was recognised by Inter-National-Ist Magazine when he was named an ‘Internationalist of the Year’ in 2007. During his two decades in marketing, he’s specialised in helping businesses thrive in times of change, whether they’re growing rapidly, repositioning themselves or going through M&As. And while his work has sometimes given him a few grey hairs, helping to achieve big transformations always puts a huge smile on his face. Holding a PhD in Microbial Biochemistry (that’s genetics to you and me), Javier brings a keenly scientific approach to everything that he does. He’s regularly called on by the marketing press to share his views on how to tame data overwhelm and the role of AI in marketing. He’s also a valued speaker at the International Advertising Association, the CMO Network and the Global Digital Marketing Summit as well as at the IESE Business School in London. Today, Javier is Vice President, Corporate Marketing for Ricoh Europe where he leads a large internal team and a wide range of global agencies covering branding, sponsorship, digital and PR. Before that, he was International Brand Director for Genworth Financial, a $110 billion leading insurance holding company in the United States and formerly a division of General Electric. As a die-hard sailor, Javier tries not to think too much about the beautiful warm winds of his native Spain while he slowly freezes each weekend off the coast of Southampton.