As the clock ticks closer to the long-awaited start of Expo 2020, attention is switching from the monumental construction effort to the exhibits that will be housed within its impressive structures. Almost a decade in the making, it is now just 38 weeks until Dubai welcomes the world to the intricately constructed 4.4 square kilometre site that sits adjacent to Al Maktoum International Airport.
Technology will, of course, be central to the Expo’s main theme of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. And there will be a clear focus on sharing innovative ideas and building partnerships to inspire a more connected and collaborative future.
A legacy to uphold
The World Expo has a long and distinguished history in this regard. From the telegraph in 1851 to the telephone in 1876 and videoconferencing in 1964, the inventions that debuted at these events have played a major role in shaping the way we work and communicate today.
At Expo 2020 Dubai, three sub-themes will explore the areas of opportunity, mobility, and sustainability – and it is the Mobility Pavilion where the major influences on the way we work will be exhibited. Here, we will discover how technology is enabling the smarter movement of knowledge, ideas, and goods, and how digital connectivity and artificial intelligence are opening up a new world of possibilities.
But the future of work is much more than just the implementation of intelligent technologies. These technologies need to be accompanied by something that is much less tangible and far more difficult to effect – a meaningful organizational and cultural change.
Change in nature of work itself
It is important to understand that the transformation is not occurring in the distant future and is not limited to specific job categories. It is happening right now... and will impact every single one of us.
Work is no longer constrained by a physical place or specific time of the day. In today’s increasingly digital world, traditional work models are no longer nimble, adaptive, or scalable enough. Too often, we continue to see organizations that are hamstrung by inflexible work environments, talent limitations, and a leadership structure that is far too rigid.
Built on functions
These traditional organizational structures are function focused rather than outcome focused. They are reactive rather than proactive, and the presence of hierarchical decision-making inevitably hinders the quest for speed and agility.
Collaboration is severely hampered in these organizations, and individual teams are left with very little authority to adapt to the evolving circumstances they face. Innovation cannot possibly hope to flourish in such an environment.
As organizations increasingly realize that today’s organizational models, metrics, and cultures are no longer fit for purpose, they will begin to rethink the concept of work and how it is done. They will embrace human-machine collaboration and create dynamic work models that result in empowered, cross-functional teams that are formed to address specific tasks at hand.
Indeed, IDC predicts that by 2024, two-thirds of employees in high-performing G2000 enterprises will shift from static roles and processes to dynamic, multidisciplinary, outcome-focused reconfigurable teams. Such enterprises will provide flexible and highly connected workspaces that maximize the scope for mobility, innovation, and collaboration.
They will replace key performance indicators (KPIs) with key behavior indicators (KBIs) to actively measure the communication, collaboration, and problem-solving capabilities of their workforce. And they will look to prioritize talent as a critical a source of competitive advantage by developing more agile, adaptable, and AI-driven learning pathways for all employees.
For decades, technology advancements have changed the way we work, and organizations have adapted accordingly. The typewriter, the electrical plug socket, and the submarine cable were all first showcased at world expos, and all went on to revolutionize the way we work.
We can expect to see a raft of similarly disruptive technologies on show later this year in Dubai. While their ability to connect minds will not be in doubt, their ability to drive meaningful innovation will rely on the imposition of real organizational change.