3 top Future-of-Work experts discuss the technologies that will shape the way we work in a post-covid era and their implications.
Wikistrat's CEO, Oren Kesler, hosted a round table on new technologies that will shape the future of work in the year 2025. The panel discussed how the technologies adopted and adapted during COVID-19 are transforming human connection at work and their structural consequences for the workforce as we know it today. This panel is part of a simulation conducted by Wikistrat for Accenture on the future of work in the year 2025. The distinguished panel included three top experts, each offering a unique perspective:
Dr. Kelly Monahan is an organizational behaviorist who studies the future workforce at Accenture Research and author of How Behavioral Economics Influences Management Decision-Making: A New Paradigm (2018, Academic Press/Elsevier Publishers).
Steve Rader is the founder of Crowd Resources Consulting, with 32 years of experience at NASA with the last eight years of those with the agencies' open innovation efforts.
Soumyasanto Sen is a Digital HR, Transformation & People Analytics leader with over 18 years of experience in advisory and author of the book Digital HR Strategy.
Oren Kesler: Welcome everyone to this round table about the future of work in the year 2025, specifically on new technologies that will shape the future of work by the year 2025. This round table is part of our ongoing simulation about the future of work in the year 2025 conducted by Wikistrat and Accenture which is currently ongoing. With me here today, we have three distinguished guests. All of them are experts in fields that are relevant and unique to the future of work. The first one is Dr. Kelly Monahan, who is an organizational behaviorist and she studies the future workforce at Accenture Research. In 2018, Kelly released her first book, How Behavioral Economics Influences Management Decision-Making: A New Paradigm (Academic Press/Elsevier Publishers). The second distinguished guest that we have is Steve Rader, who is the founder of Crowd Resources Consulting, drawing on 32 years of experience at NASA with the last 8 years of those with the agencies' open innovation efforts.
And finally is Soumya Sen, who is a Digital HR, Transformation & People Analytics leader with over 18 years of experience in advisory and he is also the author of the book Digital HR Strategy.
Welcome everyone, it's great to have you on board. Today I want to start with a general question: how did the COVID pandemic impact the adaptation and use of technology in the workplace?
Kelly Monahan: Thank you so much, Oren, it's so great to be here, and I'm very humbled to be amongst this group of panelists today. It's been interesting. Right after the pandemic hit, we started with survey data at Accenture Research trying to understand how ready organizations were for this profound shift to remote work, which I know sounds so silly today. But according to our research, 90% of people before the pandemic were still regularly reporting on-site, whether that was driving a truck, going into an office, a retail location, or a hospital.
The majority of our paradigm around what it means to be a worker was some sort of physical location. I can't underestimate or overestimate the profound shift that we've had just from a human behavior perspective of now trusting people to work from home. And that's only possible because of digital technologies. But what we found when we went a couple of months into the pandemic with our survey data, we looked at over 5,400 global workers, was that companies were able to make this digital acceleration. We talked to CIOs who told us they had 18-month digital transformation roadmaps and executed them over the weekend.
Now, in some cases that meant employees actually taking desktop computers and putting them into their homes. So, not necessarily all emergent technology, but we were able to make it work. But, what we saw happen in our data is that people were struggling to use the technologies at home. About a third of the workforce we surveyed said they were having regular issues with adapting to the new technology, self-servicing themselves, and they missed being able to walk down to the IT department.
What we see today as we talk about this return to work is that the number one reason we're seeing in our survey data that people want to go back to an office or back on site is access to technology. I think we're at this really interesting crossroads. We have all this emerging technology that I know we're going to be talking about today, yet we're still trying to get some of the basics in terms of having a hybrid experience that is as connected and as intelligent as when we're in the office. I still actually think we've got a ways to go for the majority of companies and businesses. Those are some of the profound shifts that we've been seeing here at Accenture.
Oren Kesler: Steve, what are your thoughts about this topic?
Steve Rader: Well, first thanks for having me on, this is great. I love this conversation. The World Economic Forum came out with a report last fall which said 84% of companies were accelerating their digitization, because of what's going on with COVID. 83% were scaling remote work and 50% were accelerating their automation.
I think what we're seeing is that a lot of work behind the digital transformation were trends already facing companies that were amplified to respond to the resilience needed for COVID. Every one of those programs suddenly got front and center as companies scrambled to not only use their remote workers but a lot of companies now needed digital ways to talk to their customers.
Restaurants all went digital almost overnight and integrated with delivery companies. A lot of that happened because of COVID, but I would say all of those trends were already there. On top of that, a lot of things I talk about are the shift in the workforce that's been happening now for several years where full-time workers are migrating for some reason into the gig economy and a freelance economy. There are lots of reasons for that.
This obviously was a big boost to that because a lot of companies had to lay off workers and have fewer hours for folks. About a third of workers already had side gigs and there was suddenly this need to make some extra money and to get on these platforms. Not all of those people are going to go back to full-time work.
It accelerated the migration that's happening as well. I think all of those kinds of trends together resonate with everything Kelly said that this is happening and it's speeding everything up.
Oren Kesler: Now, Soumya, you're a digital HR and transformation expert. How do you see the impact that the pandemic had on the adaptation and use of technology in the workplace?
Soumya Sen: I think that first of all Kelly and Steve mentioned really good insights from the research and what's happening. I can tell you from my experience, I have been involved with a lot of big organizations in their transformation for many years, that especially with the pandemic we have seen many of those organizations feel really challenged because most of us and most of those organizations were not ready for the pandemic.
This is really uncertain in terms of digitalization because the infrastructure is not appropriate, they're heterogeneous, and they do not have a culture of working remotely, which are really big challenges. Some companies have spent a huge amount of money and are done with making the communication platform so that it is ready for employees in the workforce. But in most cases, I think the research doesn't fit. The reason is that implementing or using new technology is useless to the users until they embrace a new digital culture. That's missing somewhere. We have seen in many of these organizations behaviors of the employees in the workforce and the leaders questioning how the other works.
All of these things are continuously impacting the organization's overall leaders and workforce. That's where we have seen there is a need or a demand for creating or a hybrid culture. People don't want to work fully remotely or full-time in the office.
That's definitely impacting the organization in different forms and that's where new models are coming around. I see that successful digital adoption, which we actually used for many transformation projects before the pandemic, is the reform of internal process practices and behaviors to adapt to the changes coming from the technologies. That's very important. It's not only that we implement technology and train the workforce, that’s not very efficient and doesn't work. So it’s very important and adoption is definitely key for today.
Oren Kesler: And Soumya, I think a follow-up question that naturally fits into what you were describing, which technologies do you think will gain prominence in future work? What technologies should we pay attention to?
Soumya Sen: They're many. Many of the technologies we are using currently. We are using automation for the workforce and on a personal front. But if you see the trends and the users, I think the cloud platforms and especially the platform as a service or software as a service have had a huge increase. Most organizations are moving towards the cloud and moving their on-premise systems out.
I mainly mean their systems which are used by employees or managers to communicate, those are relatively changing towards a new platform. This also includes the platforms related to collaboration tools. We have seen a huge transformation happening towards Microsoft Team. What they are offering today is not only a platform to just have a video call or chat.
It's integrated into the whole environment, to email, to your connection to others, and to how you collaborate between different teams. It gives you a network chart about how you collaborate between different teams. What's your efficiency in terms of communication and managing different subjects and topics?
This is definitely an important technology, which is already in place, but we have also seen that there are a lot of adoptions of AI-based technologies, including robotic process automation in AVR recruitment or learning and even for very small productivity tools. We have seen them continuously improving. The main target is not actually to replace someone or replace a job, but rather how we can increase productivity. That's an important aspect to consider when we talk about AI technologies.
People analytics is also a field that has tremendously grown over the last 10 years. This area, analytics, is not new but most organizations have seen tremendous growth because data is key today. They call data the new oil. In particular, data related to the workforce and how it can impact businesses in terms of talent acquisitions, retention, or the development of the whole talent cycle is really impacting our organizations and businesses today.
The people analytics capabilities with the advanced use of machine learning and predictive models is really growing. Another aspiring tool coming out of people analytics is organizational network analysis. This is also growing hugely because we have seen a large number of success cases from organizations using these types of tools in terms of finding bottlenecks, why collaboration is not working, where are the best change agents in our network, where are we lacking innovation, how can we build an agile team. These questions can be answered for organizations when we use these tools. We definitely need proper data and governance, but these are some tools that are already impacting organizations and there are definitely more.
Oren Kesler: Steve, what kind of technologies should we be paying attention to? What do you think will be the technologies that will gain prominence in the future of work?
Steve Rader: Well, I just want to echo what you said on AI and digital platforms. I think those are hugely impressive technologies that are really going to make a difference. In fact, Competing in the Age of AI is a book that Karim Lakhani and Marco Iansiti just put out from Harvard and it really lays out the case studies of Ant Financial, Ocado, and other companies that have taken that digital native, ground-up approach for gathering data that we talked about, to integrating with the Internet of Things, to recording digital exhaust, and really turning that into a factory of producing and improving algorithms that start to make the business process way more efficient.
The thing I think is really interesting on that topic is going to be matching platforms. Those platforms that, for instance, match workers to work and do that much, much better than HR systems have ever done. So really capturing that digital exhaust, upskilling people, working out the digital trust and privacy mechanisms with blockchain and new technologies there.
We need to start creating platforms that really are good stewards of workers, but are also really good at bringing the right talent to bear for a problem, including high-performing teams and the ability to assemble those really quickly all while building an ecosystem of trust and relationship which is that personal layer that people think that AI can't really help you with, but it really can. I think some of the examples of early work there is the nudge AI, that Humu and Nume have come up with that work in the background to nudge your behaviors, and I think those will become prominent.
Some really interesting technologies that I am watching because I think they have some super capability but are also pretty out there are the distributed autonomous organizations, the DAOs, which are blockchain-based organizations that have a shared value concept behind them. There are now templates out there, people are building those, and it's kind of related to the NFT work that people have seen a high profile of.
Blockchain could also start to redefine the value compensation models, where we're still stuck in paying people by the hour and putting value in their hour. There's a lot of false value there and some of these newer models start to really get behind a much more integrated data-driven system there. In fact, in the music industry, there are already some native platforms for producing music that starts to build in that compensation model of smart contracts and the rest. I think IP is about to go through a big transformation here.
Oren Kesler: Kelly, you heard both Soumya and Steve, it's very interesting in terms of the technologies that they have pointed at, which ones will be gaining prominence, and which ones we should be paying attention to. What are your thoughts about this?
Kelly Monahan: I think what Soumya and Steve pointed out are just great insights and something to think about. The way that I'm looking at this again, with my background being a bit more from a human behavior side, is what technologies are making us more intelligent, which both Soumya and Steve have pointed to, and then also what makes us connected, especially in a hybrid environment.
Again, what we've already talked about from an intelligence perspective, it's an AI plus cloud that is allowing us to have these nudges to make us smarter. We know from behavioral economics, that we're not great at managing our time, we're not going to be these great people who optimize productivity on our own. So the more that we can use technology in a way that actually makes us smarter about who we are and who we are at work and how many people we interact with, are we experiencing collaboration overload?
I think those technologies are certainly mainstream today and will continue to grow in importance, especially for office-type workers. The one technology I would say that we're watching closely too, from a connected side that I'm not sure I heard mentioned yet is augmented virtual reality. A lot of this is being driven by a sense of equality and inclusion, especially in a hybrid workplace.
How do we make sure people feel seen and heard when they're physically not in the room? How do we make sure that as people return back to work, and some people continue at home or remotely, that we are able to actually have productive conversations and collaborate and innovate? We've all been in the conference call with one person on the phone and everyone else is in person, and that just becomes awkward and frustrating. So how do we make that more seamless?
This reminds me of a book that Lynda Gratton wrote back in 2011 on the future of work. She had a scenario of a doctor being able to come in through an avatar in a patient's room. I think one of the things that were missing to actually make that scenario real during that time was 5G technologies and connections. That's just the other thing that we're watching is how much that's going to enable more precise connectedness amongst both technologies, but more importantly, amongst us as humans as we continue to work in this distributed environment. Those would be the two things I would add.
Oren Kesler: Steve, did you want to say something?
Steve Rader: I was just going to add one thing because I totally agree with Kelly there. There is also this underlying increase in capacity in computing and communication that a lot of people don't realize is starting to thread together to create a massive amount of computing capability along with the quantum computing stuff. All of this AI is coming online just at the time the underlying technologies are going to allow for a lot more capability, so the possibility of a surge there in the next five to 10 years is really underrated when you consider all the forces at play.
Oren Kesler: Now, Kelly, Steve, and you, and Soumya, you all mentioned some of those great technologies that are being used for different purposes. If it's between communicating between people if it's to organize the best team using data analytics, et cetera. One of the hardest topics today that we have, and it's definitely been discussed quite a lot, also in the simulation, is the whole idea about or the whole clash between working from home and working from the office. The question here is, how are organizations using technology to help to bring people back into the office or on-site and what can be done to help strengthen the human connection in a virtual environment?
Kelly Monahan: That's a great question, and a big question too. We are looking forward to hearing the panelists’ perspectives on this. It's interesting, again, from a human behavior perspective and how much this will persist. We've really adopted this touchless technology in a way that I think as Steve mentioned before, was emergent, we were having the hoteling apps and being able to have sensors in the office to start tracking mobility and movement.
Obviously, Amazon has been a leader in that within their warehouses and really embracing the Internet of Things. I think we're going to see much more of that in our offices again, to make people feel safe. I think there's going to be, as Soumya has mentioned, a really big trust factor here in making sure that people don't feel monitored or that it will be used against them in any sort of way.
I think we're going to continue to see the emergence of this touchless technology, this ability to use a QR code to actually scan into the building as opposed to talking to someone or having an admin let you in. We're seeing that very much on the rise. Will that persist after people feel safe and the pandemic is well behind us in the rearview mirror? I'm not 100% sure yet. I think it probably will persist to some degree.
We're continuing to watch that. As I mentioned before, we're continuing to also look for remote individuals. How do we make them feel comfortable and how do we actually create this environment that even if people are in the office, that it becomes more digitized. One of the experiments that we're doing right now is using everyone, whether you're in the office or at home, to actually come together on platforms, in some cases VR and other cases just through the computer and webcam, through avatars.
We’re trying to figure out if it's an onboarding experience, does it actually help normalize the experience so it's more shared? That everyone's having the same lobby experience as they come in. Again, as a person who likes to put humanity at the forefront, it makes me a little nervous that we're giving some of that up. But, we're really curious to see the results of this to determine whether meeting everyone together in a digital environment and being able to have those "Water cooler chats through avatars" actually creates a more successful onboarding experience for new hires.
Oren Kesler: Now, Soumya, following up on what Kelly just said, how do you see the organization using technology to help bring people back into the office in terms of strengthening the human connection in a virtual environment?
Soumya Sen: Kelly, you made fantastic points here. How can we make it a similar experience? Especially as I mentioned, most organizations are going towards a hybrid model where some people work remotely and others work in a physical space. We definitely need a type of culture where we can provide a similar experience to all employees.
Kelly gave a very fantastic experience. Here, I would mention that apart from technology, I think it is also important how the people and workforce adjust their behaviors, especially leaders, with this culture. That's a very important point because I've seen, as I mentioned, working with large firms, when you try to create such an environment it's not easy. There are different reasons for that.
One of the biggest reasons is that the behaviors are not easy to change. When people are used to their own way of working before, a new way of working is not easy for them. That's an important point. I would mention one of the aspects here, whatever technology we choose, we should really focus on the human-centric experience. That's very important.
What makes sense for the employees, the workforce, and also the organization in terms of their performance? That's very important. I totally see that digitalization is a key factor that will continually grow for most organizations, and we already mentioned a lot of technologies. I can see a lot of organizations already putting them into place, whether it's touchless devices or use of the IoT sensors, use of analytics to generate insights, taking visualizations. In the future, we can definitely see more and more such technologies taking place.
But the important point here is how we can also entrust a culture that is set up for the organizations so employees feel comfortable because that's an important point. That's why, again, trust is a big challenge I've seen for the leaders in the workforce. Empathy is something that is also very much important at this point in time, especially considering the pandemic and also the future in terms of how work is changing.
These are not technical things, but they’re very much integrated into the technical and if we don't take it together, it will be very difficult. Even implementing the very latest technologies, and high-end technologies will actually be a failure for the organization if we don't take care of those parts.
Oren Kesler: Steve, do you have something to share about that before I move into the next question about learning?
Steve Rader: I think that the COVID really brought people together in distributed ways that were surprising and emphasized some of the need for that personal interaction that's going to make its way back as people go back. Just the meetings, the way people meet and collaborate really stepped up. You now have virtual whiteboard capability, the ability to have kind of online meeting chats going on during meetings. All of those made a much richer meeting fabric where you can have meetings persist over time and bring up the digital whiteboard where you left off.
I think if you look back to where we were before, it was scheduling meeting rooms, having to erase everything and start from scratch every time you met, trying to get everyone in one room, finding the right conference room. All of those things showed people a different way of doing business. I think you'll see some more leveraging of that, as well as more meetings outside the workplace in other common spaces where people have discovered they can actually work more effectively.
Oren Kesler: Steve, during the simulation, you provided some interesting trends analysis and scenarios on the issue of training and learning. One of them was about the lifelong and endless cycle of learning and training.
My question for you is how will learning and development shift as people become more and more connected to the information? Will workers who fail to take on these extracurricular lifelong learning activities fall behind? Are we going to see some adjustments being made by workplaces in order to allow the worker to gain more information? How do you see this process moving forward?
Steve Rader: Well, I think we're at a point of crisis here, because the rate of change has now broken the traditional education and the way it works with the workforce. Companies don't actually have enough resources to upskill people fast enough and you can't simply onboard more people indefinitely, not without laying people off.
They need people with new skills at a much higher rate than they ever did before. There is this idea of upskilling within an organization, but that's actually really hard to do. I think that's one of the reasons we're seeing such a surge in the freelance economy because it more naturally invests in lifelong learning. I think we're going to start to see the education systems, and we already are seeing this, catch up to that with incentivized learning, much smaller packages of learning, and free learning, Google and Amazon have both data science programs that are for free that you can do in six months rather than in five years. Those kinds of efforts are really starting to get integrated into some of these labor platforms. Paro.io is an accounting firm and every time they assign a task to a freelancer they actually don't assign the best person, but they assign the person who actually will have to stretch a little to do that work. Then they support them to make sure it gets done well.
The result of that for their workforce is that every task results in the workforce being up-skilled. I think we really have to start looking at that kind of mindset where everyone is learning all the time as part of their structured work. A huge part of this that's important for social stability, is that we somehow pull everyone who's at the lowest skill level and pull them up, because automation really is taking low skill jobs at a much higher rate, and we're generating those high skill jobs at a higher rate.
We've got this weird problem right now, we have lots of unemployment starting to grow at the low skill level, a bunch of unfilled positions, and a shortage of workers at the high end. We have to make it a priority to not just upskill smart people, but to upskill people who haven't had those advantages and to try to get them to a level where they can participate in the knowledge economy. I don't think that's going to relent, the rate of change is going to keep increasing, and so we have to find ways to structurally make that work.
Oren Kesler: Kelly, what do you think about what Steve just said thinking about the shift to more connectivity of people and helping them with learning and development?
Kelly Monahan: I think what Steve said is both very human and profound because that is something that I'm thinking about a lot right now. A lot of this is absolutely a technology problem and skilling issue that we have. It's funny when we talk to a lot of organizations even knowing what skill sets they need in the future is still pretty fuzzy at times, maybe surprisingly so.
I think we need to really identify what are those skills you actually need to generate value. We still have an efficiency mindset so we're still using technologies in many of our organizations to drive efficiencies as opposed to figuring out how they actually can be used to create new value. So I think we absolutely have to figure out, as Steve mentioned, how to do that internally. You already have people who are wearing their badge of business and putting out fire drills day in and day out which makes learning on the job very difficult, especially without clear visibility into what skills they actually need and the clear pathways.
I'm sure, Soumya would tell us of all the new HR platforms that are coming out that are actually making this much easier for companies. But, the second thing that Steve said that I really want to pick up on is that part of this is a societal narrative. One of the words I like to talk about a lot when we talk about the future of work is a sense of dignity. How do we make sure that people in those low-skilled jobs, especially those that we need as you think about Maslow's hierarchy of needs, food, shelter, and clothing such as the people who are building our houses, paving our roads, at grocery store stocking shelves and farmers providing food, how do we bring back a sense of dignity? Maybe they're not going to be fully part of the knowledge economy and partake in it from a digital perspective, but how do we make sure that we value those jobs?
Those are the jobs that keep our society humming and allows us as knowledge workers to go and participate in different types of work. That is something that, I think Steve said, we do have to watch out for especially in terms of a crisis is the social unrest this may cause. If we continue to see what I'm seeing in the data, the digital divide because wages are going to those high-skilled jobs and it's creating more and more of this elite group of workers and companies who are going to have a lot more control. They're going to own the platforms and the data, which does cause me a lot of concern.
How do we rebalance this? We are at a critical time to do that and making sure that as a society we value all sorts of people and all sorts of jobs. Just because we're working behind a technology doesn't necessarily make us more valuable as a human. So I think those are again, probably a bit more philosophical than we maybe wanted to talk about from a technology perspective, but that is very much top of mind with this conversation.
The last thing I'll say is, as Steve says, we can't leave anyone behind. We've got to go all the way down the value chain and lift up those low-skilled workers to give them the option if they still choose to participate in higher-skilled work, as that is where the future of work is certainly going.
Oren Kesler: Now, Soumya, you heard Kelly, you heard Steve, what’re your two cents on the topic?
Soumya Sen: First of all, both Kelly and Steve mentioned all the crucial parts here. I will say what is broken, actually, Steve mentioned this, learning is broken to some extent, especially for the organization to manage the demand of how the learning is changing. We have seen the facts. Actually, the thinking is that, if you see from the old learning management system concept, how the learning used to be done in the past, now the demand is totally different.
The previous learning mechanism for the organization doesn't work today. The reason for this is that learning is not separate like a topic or asset for an organization, rather it is becoming an ecosystem. Organizations need to dig into that. That's very important today, it's not just about the learning but it's also about managing the skills in terms of recognizing or understanding skill demand, embracing the career development together with that, and then providing an environment where the employees can learn continuously.
These three, skill management, career development, and learning need to be incorporated together. Otherwise, it's very difficult for an employee and workforce to really follow, especially considering how fast we are changing. It is important for them to follow what is going to be done with their current skills and what new skills could be learned. What does it mean for their career? How can they actually learn? Actually, there are very few organizations in the world that can really provide such platforms or infrastructure, or such an environment to all the employees.
That's why it's very important to create an ecosystem. Let me say, the ecosystem is not that organizations depend on their own learning capabilities but rather expand outside in their approach. A very good example is LinkedIn. In the last few years, they started their talent solutions where all the LinkedIn data can be used and they also started the LinkedIn Learning platform.
Their content is used in most organizations and they are integrating those LinkedIn Learning and the talent together, they provide a good solution. This is one example, there are many such vendors which are working today in the learning ecosystem. I think that the target market is over a billion, which is growing very fast.
I think the target here is mainly how they can form an ecosystem where organizations can provide an environment where the workforce can happily and also safely learn and grow in a continuous manner. Because one organization cannot sustain the demand today, especially in the continuous learning environment.
Oren Kesler: Thank you, Soumya. We are reaching the end of this panel and I want to have closing remarks. Steve, I know I would like to hear your closing remarks. What are your thoughts about the future of work and the new technologies that will emerge and are emerging that will shape it. How do you think that kind of dynamic will evolve over the next few years?
Steve Rader: Well, I think that the two biggest trends are this worker shift away from full-time employment because that's going to affect organizations regardless of which kind of labor you use. It's going to affect who you can get to, it's going to affect what training model workers expect, and the passion that they can pursue. I think it's a bigger trend than most organizations realize. We're so steeped in the full-time employment model that people don't seem to be ready for it. Their workers are moving out quickly on that, much faster than anyone's really adjusting. I think the other part is the digital work that's going on. That transformation is going to create a lot of new capabilities and AI. Where those two intersect, you're going to start to see these platforms where digital trust is really becoming an important topic.
I always tell people to remember the first time you heard about Uber, and you probably said to yourself there's no way I'm ever getting in a stranger's car. Now, everyone gets into an Uber. I think that kind of thing for freelance work is, "Oh, I would never hire a freelancer to do X work," but that's going to evaporate as trust mechanisms are worked and digital trust is built. I think there's some really interesting stuff there and I also think the hybrid between AI and people is really key. This isn't going to be the sterile remote work environment, but rather this cooperation of AI systems and people to actually bring a richer human experience, which is going to be really interesting to watch.
Oren Kesler: Kelly, what are your thoughts to conclude the topic and the discussion that we had today?
Kelly Monahan: I appreciate it. This has been a great conversation, thank you for having us. As Steve mentioned, I do think there's a shift that's going to continue to happen as organizations and as people, in general, give up more and more control to participate in the knowledge economy. In order to actually access our customers or access people, as Steve has mentioned, we're going to have to become dependent on these platforms and give up data in order to do that.
I think that's a really big leadership shift that we have to think about. The other thing is that all of these platforms and the ability of AI to help us have these richer human experiences, does in part depend on us as employees or freelancers to opt-in and give up some privacy to actually allow the system to have the rich insights in order to make us more intelligent. I do think an important trend to continue to watch is how companies can make sure their people are opting in, giving the system the data it needs so that the whole collective can become smarter. I do think we're still not quite there yet. I think some companies are doing it very ethically and in getting ahead of this and others are probably collecting a lot more data on people than maybe their employees realize.
I know Soumya has talked a lot about trust. I think that's going to be a key theme as we think about the future of work. How do we get our systems as intelligent as possible, and then on the flip side, how do we make sure that they're safe? I read a book recently, Meltdown, and that opened my eyes to, as we connect more and more of our systems, how do we make sure that there are some redundancies put in place, which is kind of an evil word in the business world because we need to have some safety guards as we become more dependent and connected through these platforms.
Oren Kesler: Soumya, what are your thoughts as we conclude the discussion with you?
Soumya Sen: I will add to one of Steve's points about how we can integrate AI functions with humans. I definitely see that this is the future for sure where humans and machines collaborate together, which is already happening to some extent but will be definitely coming more. This is definitely going to leverage more human potential because we all can focus on the skills which are more important today, like critical thinking, which we are not doing, because today we are stuck with work that is very repetitive.
This is actually demonizing the productivity of our work. Productivity is definitely the key for organizations. We're going to see this more and more and it will definitely influence the topic of reskilling and upskilling people in a continuous learning environment because without learning there is no future for work. That's going to definitely be the key point I would add, apart from what Kelly and Steve said.
Oren Kesler: Perfect. I want to thank everybody who participated in this panel. Thank you very much.