The robot overlords you’ve been promised haven’t arrived yet. It’s understandable that you might think they were coming soon since so much of the media coverage of technology in the workplace has focused on what we are told is an inevitable conflict between human jobs and robotic automation, between people and technology. This gloom-and-doom scenario isn’t coming to pass, however, and won’t. That’s because people are the most important technology asset that companies have.
Here’s an example: Back in 2011, when McDonald’s announced it would install 800 self-serve kiosks across France to take orders and payment, the company was criticized for scheming to cut out thousands of low-wage jobs that people sorely needed. Since then, McDonald’s has increased self-serve kiosks across the country, the continent, and now the world. What happened to hiring? By 2017, McDonald’s France was hiring 20% more people per year than before the kiosks were installed. So much for the prophesied conflict between people and technology.
At Forrester, we understand what’s really happening. Yes, robots, automation, and technologies of all kinds — from Microsoft Teams to Salesforce to Zoom — are showing up in more people’s work lives, taking more time, requiring more of our effort to learn and use. But the outcome of so much technology, when it’s done right, is that it removes from humans the burden of repetitive, often mind-numbing tasks and frees them up to do what humans do best: Be creative, insightful, and collaborative.
In November, as part of Forrester’s Technology & Innovation North America event, I’ll present a keynote entitled, Make Your People The Key To Your Creativity. This session will kick off a track at the forum designed to highlight the role of employees in what we call a future fit enterprise. In the track, we’ll talk about employee experience, burnout, performance management, inclusive leadership, and where we are on hybrid work plans. To support these sessions, we’ll be pulling from new data we acquired in surveys of thousands of workers in the US and five other countries around the world.
A sneak peek: Will it surprise you to know that just 24% of US workers believe that the company they work for is very creative? Wait until I share the data that shows what effect that belief has on the way someone brings their best self to work, affecting how they feel about management, process, and even the technology strategy of the organization.
All of this should help put the title of this blog post into context. If you invest in technology that frees up your people to be creative, they turn around and use the technology you gave them to be smarter, more inventive, more collaborative. They change the processes of your organization and generate more customer-obsessed products and experiences. This then stimulates the organization to provide even better technology to support their ambitions, and before you know it, you’re turning a flywheel that will run as long as you want it to.
You just have to see your people as your most important technology asset. Hope to see you at the event in November.