The future’s most valued jobs?

Technology is positioned to reshape the future of work. But without critical components—acceptance and adoption by people—it can never achieve its full impact. How will jobs change in the future? What jobs will organizations value most? How will the workforce change?

Karen Visser is a director in the Korn Ferry Institute.

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Today, freelancers add valuable skills and support on the fringes. But in the future, the “contingent workforce” will be a significant part of organizations: In the United States alone, the number of temporary workers is predicted to hit 6 million in 2020. Some organizations already employ significant numbers of “outside circle” colleagues as part of their strategy. Uber is an extreme example, as “outside circle” labor enables its business model, but more traditional firms are following the trend: ExxonMobil’s UK business consisted of 1,300 contractors and 3,000 employees in 2015.

So who will be left in the organization? Firms will rely on smaller core teams playing bigger roles at higher levels. The nature of these jobs will change: They will be more fluid than stable, with an even greater emphasis on collaboration and managing complexity. And as relationships between jobs become increasingly complicated, job descriptions will become “person” descriptions, influenced more by the talent of the person who fills the role than by traditional business requirements.

Bringing an outsized helping of talent to each role is critical. As jobs grow bigger, they will demand greater cognitive capabilities, because people not only will need greater knowledge and expertise; they must also be able to apply that know-how in unfamiliar situations. This may require greater levels of education, development for employees, or even the creation of new jobs.

So what jobs will these highly skilled, highly intelligent people do to create more value for their organizations? We see new roles in the “inner circle” created at two levels, one reporting to the board and the other reporting to the C-suite.

Reporting to board level, we expect to see these leaders:

  • Chief data officer (CDO): responsible for enterprise-wide governance and deployment of information as a core business asset.
  • Chief information security officer (CISO): responsible for security of personnel, physical assets, and information in both digital and physical form.
  • Chief experience officer (CXO): responsible for the overall experience and impact of an organization’s products and services.

Reporting into the C-suite, we expect to see this talent:

  • Data scientist: responsible, as a strategic rather than support role, for mining data and building models for business forecasting.
  • Digital security master: responsible for ensuring digital security of all organization assets, including information, physical assets and personnel.
  • Experience marketer: responsible for the overall experience of an organization’s products and services.

Future ready: link roles, strategy.

What can firms do now to move faster to more fluid, more capable workforces, capable of performing to higher standards in an uncertain future? They must:

  • Understand which roles can be outsourced and which should remain or be created internally.
  • Grasp the capabilities that the contingent workforce must bring to deliver on the strategy. Evaluate the size and scope of these roles.
  • Evaluate the size of the roles needed within the organization and identify the capabilities people will need to fulfil them. Look for knowledge, problem-solving aptitude, and strong collaboration skills to get the best from the entire workforce.

Authors

  • Karen Visser

    Director, Korn Ferry Institute