We all know that businesses have changed a lot in the last few decades. From switching over to digital records to open office plans, trends have shown that technology and new attitudes about work have changed many aspects of the 9-5.
Tech touches nearly every industry and it has even enabled small businesses to compete with corporation.
But is tech really changing the fundamentals of how businesses are run?
Is tech really replacing the need for strong organizational leadership that motivates their team and develops the next generation of leaders? Let’s take a look at some of the biggest trends in business to find out.
1. Remote Workers
Technology has enabled an increasing number of workers to skip their commute and work from home—or anywhere they’d like. In ten years, a large number of the hiring managers surveyed by Upwork noted that they expect .
Not only does using remote workers allow companies to cut costs on office expenses, but it allows them to scout talent from a much larger pool than ever before.
Remote work is possible in many different positions including customer service, web development, and marketing, but some companies do note drawbacks: namely the communication difficulties that are inherent when the team does not work in the same office.
2. Machine Learning & Automation
Ever since machines started taking over jobs in the Industrial Revolution, people have been concerned about automation making them unable to make a living. During the Industrial Revolution, factory machines dramatically reduced the number of workers needed to keep the factories going.
Today, machine learning and automation have the possibility of taking over another type of job: knowledge work. Artificial intelligence, particularly combined with robotics, is stoking some of the familiar fears: that jobs will disappear as the technology becomes more sophisticated.
It’s true that automation is being used to take over some of the duties of workers in the business sector, such as market intelligence and chatbots.
But it will also open up the opportunity for new positions. As digital marketing expert Alexis Sanders notes in a recent round-up on the , “machine learning offers the potential to better understand multimedia content better.” As a result, machine learning and automation could lead to new industries where humans can thrive alongside tech to produce better software, content and overall customer experience.
And also keep in mind that many of these solutions are designed to help take over some of the most mundane and time-consuming tasks on a busy professional’s plate—leaving them with the more challenging (and satisfying) tasks that require a human’s unique skills.
3. Cross-Functional Integration
Having different departments that don’t communicate with each other is quickly becoming a thing of the past, thanks to cross-functional integration, a new business structure that encourages transparency.
In a cross-functional structure, different hierarchies may be uses, including , with a leader at the center. However, the team is organized, however, the impetus behind cross-functional integration is keeping teams on the same page and preventing communication breakdown that slows down progress and makes teams less agile. Technology has made this kind of structure more accessible, since chat programs, email, and other digital tools help to keep team members on the same page.
4. Virtual Assistants
Humans are prone to error, to forgetting, and to missing patterns. That’s what artificial intelligence does best—“remembering” and pulling out insights that humans can use to create new strategies. AI-powered “virtual assistants” are becoming tailored to the needs of individual workers, helping them to find the most relevant insights to meet their needs. Adobe Analytics’ Intelligent Alerts is a good example of technology being harnessed to serve the needs of workers, saving them time and frustration.
Most of us are used to AI-powered assistants like Siri or Alexa, or the complex algorithms that give us Netflix recommendations. Gmail has even recently introduced a feature that reminds users to follow up or reply to important emails.
However, most of these assistants have been tailored to the consumer, not to enterprise workers. As the modern workplace begins to demand personalization, as the consumer market has, we’re likely to see more virtual assistants like Adobe’s in the workplace.
Tech’s Role in the Evolution of Business
As we can clearly see from these trends, business strategy and everyday operations are changing, and technology has played a pivotal role in those changes. Companies are doing their best to leverage technology in order to compete, save money, and maximize revenue. Is technology changing how businesses are run? Absolutely. Will that be a good or a bad thing for workers and consumers? That remains to be seen.
About the author
Ryan Ayers has consulted numerous Fortune 500 companies within multiple industries including information technology and big data. After earning his MBA in 2010, Ayers also began working with start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs, with a keen focus on professional development, data collection and analysis.