The rise of ride-share apps enables frictionless movement. When there’s a task to do at home, there’s an app for that—booking a cinema ticket, a restaurant, an airline ticket can be done, instantly.
In work, we’ll see a mentality shift toward “there’s an app for that” tasks, dividing everyday process-driven work into seamless digital work that flows and more focus toward experiential engagements.
A process-driven task like getting from A to B (for a person or a report) is being outsourced to a digital world that tracks, traces, and then delivers a seamless and predictable outcome. The experiential world requires a personal interaction like, say, the process of buying a fashion item.
I will point out that it was the rise of email that killed off the fax machine because, well, pressing the Send button is easier than feeding a report into a fax machine.
Sitting behind all this isn’t so much a conspiracy of machines to take over our lives. Rather, it’s a deep-seated yearning by humanity to be ever more productive, to outsource the mundane, to free up time for purpose-filled pursuits deemed far more important.
And it is achieved by digitising and/or by automating a series of tasks known as a workflow, a term first used in a railway journal a century ago.
In the early days, simple workflow improvement came about via innovations like the assembly line and the specialisation of labour. Today, assembly line work is increasingly done by robots programmed to complete a sequence of tasks delivering a known outcome.
Workflow improvement never stops. And in the process it frees humanity from the drudgery of repetitive work.
In the post-COVID world, the great challenge isn’t so much managing and learning to navigate the digital world (although that is part of the future). Rather, it’s the issue of building trust in a very different world.