I don’t know about you, but I love predictions — both those grounded in data, analysis and forecasting, as well as those based on gut feel and intuition.
Part of it may be because years ago I learned my No. 2 strength, according to the CliftonStrengths assessment, is Futuristic. According to my assessment findings, my Futuristic strength means I “need to know what the future holds before concentrating on today’s activities” and that my “vivid mental images of the coming months, years, or decades often impel me to take action.” You can only imagine the internal conflict I find myself in daily!
But another reason is because I am acutely fascinated by the speed our world is advancing. What is emerging one day becomes mainstream the next. What we are sure of one moment flips on its head the next. What got us here — as business owners, leaders, professionals, and individuals — will without question not get us there.
So, you can imagine the debates I am having internally as I ponder “future of work.” Questions are swirling through my mind such as…
Which workforce model will leapfrog the rest — digital-first, hybrid or in-office?
What technologies have not yet been invented that will become the new Zoom?
How will companies continue to shift their models and service offerings to attract, retain and grow their customer base?
What will digital upskilling look like 6 months from now?
How will emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, Internet of Things, etc., enable and propel business forward?
Do similar questions wake you up in the middle night? Do you vacillate between unbridled excitement and unease for what future of work will mean for your business, team, and industry? Do you obsessively think about the decisions you need to make today to prepare for what comes next?
Related Reading: Web 3.0, The Next Industrial Wave
As leaders, we are diving headfirst into the mega trends that will forever shape the business landscape — big data, cloud, hybrid, automation, cybersecurity, etc. — at a greater velocity than ever before. We face added pressure to be the Early Adopters, or the pioneers embracing new-age innovation before others. And we spend a great deal of time challenging old assumptions and accepting new workplace paradigms to ensure we flex agility and ingenuity in a world that now demands it.
One macro trend that will undoubtedly have huge impact on the future of work is a term Gartner introduced in late 2020 when it released its 2021 strategic technology trends predictions:
Total experience (TX), the No. 2 trend predicted, is described by Gartner as the following:
“Total experience combines multiexperience, customer experience, employee experience and user experience to transform the business outcome. The goal is to improve the overall experience where all of these pieces intersect, from technology to employees to customers and users. Tightly linking all of these experiences — as opposed to individually improving each one in a silo — differentiates a business from competitors in a way that is difficult to replicate, creating sustainable competitive advantage.”
Experience pillars have long been siloed within business. For example, sales and delivery might focus on delivering “wow” customer experiences, while marketing and technology teams center in on product experience, while HR focuses on employee experience… and so on and so forth. As a result, the efficacy of experience has also typically been measured in a vacuum without accounting for the cross-dependencies each pillar has on the rest (e.g., product renewals are at an all-time high, bug reports are down, new features are being rolled out within weeks, but employee attrition is at an all-time high).
TX challenges leaders to start to think whole-experience and build strategy, technology capability, and innovation frameworks holistically, particularly at the points at which all the pillars intersect. A TX approach accounts for and correlates the cause and effect among experience pillars, allowing leaders to unify departments around a strong shared vision.
So how do we begin applying a concept like TX that is still very much in its infancy? How can we begin TX-ing our firms? Here are three suggestions as you look to jump-start your TX initiative:
- Think TX Strategy: Consider all your experience pillars — customer, product, user, employee, etc. — and start by asking one simple question, “Where am I most at risk today?” Your answer will provide clues as to how you want to begin shaping your overall TX strategy, and which part of your business is most in need of TX-ing. As you build out your strategy, also consider where you want to be on the TX adoption curve. Will you be an Early Adopter, unifying your business at a speed that far outpaces your competitors? Or do you want to dip a toe more cautiously? Remember though that if you are too late, your ability to regain market share may be to steep to overcome if your competitors outpace you with TX!
- Data as a Compass: Today, data is the single-most valuable asset for any organization, serving as the directional compass for innovation and transformation. As you start to TX your firm, begin by elevating your existing data: pay attention to what’s broken in your existing experience paradigm, consolidate real-time insights to understand where and how improvements can be made and, most importantly, leverage data to gain a whole-experience view on where you can head. When we start looking at KPIs or OKRs through an aggregate view, we can uncover newfound analytics about true organization health and vitality.
- Technology as an Accelerator: As you zero in on your definitions, goals and focus for TX, and lean on your data to set the direction, now comes the exciting part: introduce emerging technologies to accelerate momentum. From artificial intelligence to cloud to hyperautomation, powerful technologies can be leveraged to drive velocity with your TX initiatives. For example, AI may allow you to better personalize and customize your customer and employee experiences. Hyperautomation enables you to gain efficiencies across your process and workflows (from customer and employee onboarding to user focus groups to backend administrative support) and drive organizational waste out the door.
What will TX look like at your company this year? How can you jump-start a TX initiative? Who will own the TX-ing of your firm? More questions that you can ponder late night!
I’m curious… have you started exploring the notion of total experience with your company? Where do you want to be on the TX adoption curve? Drop me a note here; I would love to talk the future of work with you!