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Do you know which asset is your organization's greatest value creator?

A trillion-dollar blind spot is distorting leaders' perceptions of the future of work

THE FUTURE OF WORK IS HUMAN >>

 

Technology is shaking the foundations of labor. But which asset will really create the greatest value in the future of work?

WHY THE FUTURE OF WORK IS HUMAN >>

 

We're living in a digital revolution as significant as the Industrial Age. Computers already surpass the human brain at sheer processing, and the true era of AI lies just beyond the horizon. So where do humans fit in?


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Why the future of work is human

Blog post by Tania Lennon

[Originally published on LinkedIn: Join the conversation. Full reprint below]
 
We’re living in the digital revolution, as significant for humanity as the discovery of electricity or the Industrial Age. Computers already surpass the human brain at sheer processing capability. Artificial intelligence is developing intuition. Robots and drones are becoming as common as cars – which will soon all drive themselves. 

Yet a key aspect is missing from the picture. People, and their contributions to business, are being painted out. But we shouldn’t be so quick to erase them.

It’s true that technology is positioned to reshape the future. But it’s people who will either accelerate or limit its impact. People are inventors, champions – and customers. There is no value to be created from technology unless people embrace it. 

The concept of value itself is shifting. The emergence of the sharing economy, with its flagship examples of Airbnb and WeWork, heralds a new era of access, not ownership. Tangible assets like power plants and machinery may decline in worth. In contrast, intellectual property, innovation, and old-fashioned human creativity will forge value for customers and firms, fuelling growth. Some analysts already insist that talent should become a financial metric, explicitly linking the value people bring with the performance they create.  


"People are inventors, champions – and customers. There is no value to be created from technology unless people embrace it."


And people do create value, simply, because to work is human. People work for organizations that reflect their personal values and that allow them to release their innate, human potential. Companies see the benefit in personal heroics and discretionary effort; effort a machine will never make. 

This isn’t a debate about man against machine. The purpose of advancing technology – always – is to boost the performance of and well-being of people. The greatest value to societies, organizations, and individuals will be realized when people partner with technology to release their and its full potential. 

But this poses huge challenges. Leaders must ask: What technology is right for my organization, and how will my people partner with it? Who will create the greatest value, how can I identify them, and how can I enable their best performance? What jobs do I need to release this value for my firm and shareholders? And what happens to the people left behind? This last question is important, from a business as well as moral perspective. Will they affect your business through political channels?  


"This isn’t a debate about man against machine. The purpose of advancing technology – always – is to boost the performance and well-being of human beings." 


Korn Ferry’s clients are already asking these questions, and it’s the firm’s mission to answer them. Over the next seven weeks we’ll share insight from experts, helping companies prepare for, and to even outperform in the future of work.

The digital revolution won’t render people obsolete and the algorithm all-powerful. But it is a paradigm shift. And organizations that engage with the hard questions now, embrace the new reality, and enable their people will see superior performance and release greater value. 

-Tania Lennon, Senior Client Partner, Korn Ferry Hay Group, London 
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VALUING THE CREATORS >>

 

How are people the driving force for technology, and why are skills, which only people can bring, essential to creating the future of work?

When an innovation strikes gold, the connection between the value that’s created and the team behind the technology is often lost.

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Valuing the creators

Blog post by Jean-Marc Laouchez

[Originally published on LinkedIn: Join the conversation. Full reprint below]
 
Although technology is positioned to reshape the future of work, without a critical component—acceptance and adoption by people—it can never fully achieve its promise. How are people the driving force for technology, and why are skills, which only people can bring, essential to creating the future of work? 


Do you recognize the names Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu and Jaan Tallinn? Tony Fadell? Tim Berners-Lee? What about Skype, iTunes, the iPhone, the World Wide Web?
 

When an exciting new technology arrives, it’s often forgotten that a big breakthrough starts as a big idea, the brainchild of a person or team.
 

"Firms should view high-performing, high-potential people—those capable of creating great value for them—as high-value assets. That’s because, in the future, these innovators and achievers—not real estate, machinery, or inventory—will drive growth"

Like any product, technology creates value and gains market share by solving real people’s problems. When an innovation strikes gold, the connection between the value that’s created and the team behind the technology is often lost. But without these exceptional individuals, the value could not be realized.


Firms should view high-performing, high-potential people—those capable of creating great value for them—as high-value assets. That’s because, in the future, these innovators and achievers—not real estate, machinery, or inventory—will drive growth. Consider that the economic value Berners-Lee, Fadell, Heinla, Kasesalu and Tallinn have released amounts to trillions of dollars.
 

After Berners-Lee conceived hypertext mark-up language, he famously refused to put a price tag on the first Web page. Although he noted in his 1989 proposal that the United States military and librarians worldwide would find value in the World Wide Web, he could not have predicted the commercial impact of his advance. In 2015, the US online retail market alone was worth an estimated $342.9 billion and is expected to reach nearly $700 billion by 2020. Google, today almost a synonym for the Internet, enjoys a brand worth estimated at $82.5 billion. With the number of online transactions projected to pass eight trillion globally by 2020, plus revenues from advertising, and the nascent Internet of Things (which by itself is projected to inject $200 billion into the UK economy alone by 2020), the true commercial value of Berners-Lee’s innovation is still unfolding.


"When an innovation strikes gold, the connection between the value that’s created and the team behind the technology is often lost. But without these exceptional individuals, the value could not be realized" 

The coders who created Skype, the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software that gained a million users within its first month, are almost national heroes in their native Estonia. VoIP technology had been on the market for 10 years when programmers Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu and Jaan Tallinn pioneered their key innovation as Skype, bypassing a central server or telecommunication providers’ lines to connect people via their PCs and home lines. Originally designed for the consumer market, it’s now firmly part of the business landscape. Microsoft bought the company for $8.5 billion in 2011, replacing its native Lync product with Skype for Business in April 2015.

 

Many see Steve Jobs as the mastermind behind iTunes. It was the brainchild of entrepreneur Tony Fadell, who saw the opportunity to connect an MP3 player with a digital music store. Apple hired him and gave him a team of 30, and the iPod’s release in 2001 helped to disrupt the music industry. In the first three quarters of 2016, Apple made $18.03 billion from iTunes sales alone, and although the iPod has quietly slipped into the tech dust bins of history, its creation was a key milestone in developing the iPhone, which hit 231.2 million unit sales worldwide in 2015. Presumably Apple is glad it made such a smart hire.
 

Apple’s experiences with Fadell prove the rule: Although technology clearly releases great value for people, whether it enhances people’s lives or enlarges shareholder’s dividends, it cannot (yet) create itself. Now and for the foreseeable future, innovations require people to conceive them, create them, and drive them to productive use. So companies seeking success should focus on their talent by looking within the organization or bringing smart people in. It’s how they will find their unique—human—catalysts for growth.
 

-Jean-Marc Laouchez, Solutions Managing Director, Korn Ferry 
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THE TRILLION-DOLLAR DIFFERENCE >>

  

Are you investing in your greatest value creator? Human capital is valued at $1,215 trillion in the future of work, 2.33 times more than technology and other physical capital

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THE FUTURE OF WORK IS HUMAN >>

 

  

Technology is shaking the foundations of labor. But which asset will really create the greatest value in the future of work?

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The $1,215 trillion blind spot: Humans in the future of work

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THE TECH-PEOPLE PARTNERSHIP

People are central to the future of work, but only when partnering with technology. What should this people-tech partnership look like, and what will make it work?

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