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What is the future of work and are you ready for it? And how does digital transformation tie into this? These are questions being asked by top business leaders around the world.

Clearly, digital transformation in the business world is happening at an increasing rapid pace.  Leaders are leveraging technology to re-invent and transform their businesses into the digital age – an age where data and information have never been more prevalent and more accessible, particularly with mobile devices.

While technology impacts a variety of facets of business, one of the main ways it is doing so is through its workforce. The digital economy we live in today is creating an incredibly dynamic, interconnected workforce that is impacting the way that leaders work with and manage their people. In the future, an even more hyper-connected world is inevitable. A recent study with Oxford University revealed that there are specific principles of a strong leader in a digital era. These principles include: technology informing operations, management being technologically literate, a focus on developing employee skills, decisions that are data-driven, and the desire to reduce complexity. Of note, this study interviewed more than 2,000+ executives, and 2,000+ employees – and 20% of the executives were millennials. In linking digital transformation to the workforce, the study further supported the notion that top leaders are embracing digital transformation and seeing the results of doing so. For example, leaders of digital transformation are 38% more likely to report strong financial performance and boost 38% higher employee retention.

So, if these findings are conclusive, why is it that only 16% of leaders say that they are successfully digitally transforming their companies? You could answer this with the typical response: lack of resources, or budget. However, I would like to suggest an alternate point-of-view. Perhaps, it is because many companies need simply fail to that investment in people is essential to this transformation. You need to take your workforce along with you on this transformational journey. Your workforce has to be enabled with the latest technology and tools to be successful. This week at SAPPHIRE, SAP’s annual customer and partner event, I was able to see demos of some exciting new workforce tools including: a business suitcase tracking with Concur; Outlook instant approvals for contingent workforce procurement; and the intelligent HR services offered through SuccessFactors such as an automatic recommended to-do list. Collectively, these and other similar tools can make a difference in the work lives of employees!

Let’s conclude with this—leaders must invest in people AND technology to successfully move their businesses into the digital age and to successfully transform themselves. Companies that are able to successfully do this will see more engaged employees, stronger financial performance, and more diversity in the workforce. Let’s start realizing these benefits now. The future is now. The #futureofwork starts now.

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