The 2020 Digital Employee: 10 Characteristics

Whilst this blog is focused at the characteristics that millennials (and others) functioning in the technology sector will need to have in the coming years, it could be associated to other industries also. Some of these features are already in play, however they are not seen currently as a full set. Happy reading.

1: Collaborator

Internal company perspectives will no longer be enough. With the lines between various technologies and industries blurring, to truly understand the necessary trends to keep up, both the person and the company will require one to forge strong active links with external companies, startups and universities. The tools required to achieve this will also evolve, with social media collaboration tools to come into the mainstream, along with the continued influence of smart devices and wearables for managing our workload.

2: Applies Relational Technology

A positive from active collaboration is the potential to see other technology methods across various industries. The wide lens approach will provide plenty of food for thought when the technologist looks to solve their immediate challenges. A  good example of this is applying classical file compression algorithms to bioinformatic problems in genome sequence analysis for disease susceptibility patterns. There will be huge advances on the adage “Think outside the box”, where people will build algorithms to find best fit algorithms to solve a related challenge. Seriously.

3: Brand.me

Personal brand is going to continue to grow in influence for future technologists. There are a few aspects to brand to consider. First, your internal brand within your immediate company – how your colleagues view you, how you ensure you remain visible in the right areas within your company. Next, your external brand is how you are viewed in immediate applicable technology areas, both geographically and in parallel companies. Lastly, the social brand of a technologist will require a suitable online social media strategy, to compliment the first two, and ensure that you are visible in areas that may very well blur into yours in the coming years.

4: People Person/ Personality

For years, technologists had an interesting reputation! Most people believed them to sit in dark rooms, writing code, and building circuits, with “geek” and “nerd” aimed in their general direction. Not so now. Its now “cool” to be in technology, given that the technology we work on is impacting everyone’s lives. We can see it, feel it, touch it. Its real. And thus, the impression that technologists can make in various circles has increased. We are now in boardrooms (see my previous blog on trends), becoming online influencers, some are even getting celebrity status (Elon Musk). Also, there is going to be a continued evolution in the number of generations that we will have to work with, which will mean more youthful employees will have to lead the aging generations.

5: Employee Skills as a Service

OK this may sound controversial. But think about it. As the lines between companies blur, with collaboration having a magnetic effect in pulling them exceptionally close to one another, it is predicted here that employees may begin to work in different organisations, with companies contracting their core employees into other partner companies that may need a particular skill set for a fixed period of time. It is predicted here that it may go a step further, with employees interviewing companies, rather than the other way round. The shift in power will happen, and employees will maintain their time bandwidth per week/year, and will give their services on a consultancy basis to multiple companies. Also there is a trend that the “one company employee” is a thing of the past, with employees more free to move quicker between jobs.

6: Self Managing

The next generation of technologists will have independence in their DNA, and will possess the required soft skills to be able to self manage their time and tasks. Point 5 above will demand this, but this is not to say that upper management will not be required. What is being said is that the hierarchical org charts will be a thing of the past, with flat structures work best in evolving technology companies.

7: Mobility

The walls of companies will be well and truly knocked, with advances in technology ensuring that “work from anywhere” is a distinct reality. Augment reality will play a part in this, when renderings of colleagues will solve the lack of contact/visibility challenge that currently exists. Enabled by technology, an entirely new work environment is on the horizon. According to Wakefield research, 91 percent of C-level executives and IT decision-makers believe that today’s teenagers will be working in roles that do not exist today. 72% agree that the traditional office as we know it will become obsolete within four years. Think about it. How are the generation in school now communicating? There were born into technology.

8: Educational Diversity

With online education companies such as Coursera becoming hugely disruptive in the education sector, it is predicted that the classical – Degree – Post Grad – Work (with training) model will change greatly. Numerous people have been quoted as saying “I don’t use a huge amount of my primary degree”. This will mean that certain individuals (think of the 16 year old kid who became a millionaire) will be hired quicker by companies, and then incrementally receive their education throughout their company. This is quite common in Japanese companies, with kids being given apprenticeships at 16, and mix college with work over the next 6 years. Now if the employment laws would catch up! Whilst incremental training is happening now within companies, colleges/companies don’t recognize it as a sum of the parts.

9: Startup(s) as a Hobby

Currently, having external commitments in technology areas, such as startup involvement is seen as a bad thing by most companies. There are trends to suggest that companies are actively opening the door to employees who use their spare time to engage in other opportunities. And rightly so. The skill set that can be gained from contributing in different company and academic structures are incredibly valuable, and there is the added bonus for the company in that they have a viewpoint into more early stage alpha and beta companies.

10: Mass Parallel Processors of Information

Yep. Its happening. And we don’t even know it. The way education is being delivered these days demands huge levels of multitasking. The ability to respond to several different stimuli at the same time is called continuous partial attention. We used to teach in a way that demanded a tremendous amount of memorization, but now it’s more about cognitive agility and multi-tasking. The part of the brain, called the hippo-campus, that’s involved in memory is a little different than the multitasking part at the front of the brain.

We see it currently in technology. To every Splunk there is a Hunk. Hadoop was barely alive when Spark came along. Java now has over 50 different varieties. Argh! Do we need to be expert at all of them? No, but we need to be able to switch between them seamlessly. Or at least know what gets used where to meet the challenge we are working on.

 

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