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Knowledge Work 2020
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Knowledge Work 2020



The nature of the knowledge work problem is growing faster than the capabilities of effective solutions for it. A few of the key problems faced by businesses over the next decade will involve the ...

The nature of the knowledge work problem is growing faster than the capabilities of effective solutions for it. A few of the key problems faced by businesses over the next decade will involve the social contracts with their employees and partners as the adaptability and flexibility enabled by technology become requirements, not opportunities. How do businesses capture the critical tacit knowledge of their older employees as they retire? How do businesses enable new employees to be productive in different ways with new technologies and the skills that come with them? Much of what we know about today will not be relevant in 10 years.

In this presentation, Mark Bernstein shares research done on the Knowledge Work 2020 topic in a collaboration between PARC and Xerox Innovation Group researchers (in Canada, France, and New York). Findings point to more intelligent systems operating on information supporting humans engaged in complex tasks that require knowledge to make decisions; more use of collaborative and social technologies to mediate the time and space problem of distributed and even asynchronous work around the globe; and much more networked computation operating in the world at large.



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  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
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  • Harold, thanks for that suggestion...
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  • information-in-use requires a person to use it. No person, no knowledge. I think Dave Weinberger covered the problems with DIKW fairly well:
    I know you folks understand the subtle differences, but too many people (especially in business) still grab onto this DIKW stuff and use it as gospel truth. I would suggest that PARC abandon the term.
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  • Harold, Thank you for taking the time to comment! RE your points, here is a response shared by Markus Fromherz, head of PARC's Intelligent Systems research organization:

    -- Conceptually, knowledge can be seen as 'information in use', or the application of information. In systems theory, we often have a hierarchy from data to information to knowledge.

    -- 'The knowledge component of DIKW 'is generally agreed to be an elusive concept which is difficult to define. Knowledge is typically defined with reference to information.' Definitions may refer to information having been processed, organized or structured in some way, or else as being applied or put into action.' (from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DIKW) ... Other similar points of view are shared at http://www.systems-thinking.org/dikw/dikw.htm ; http://searchdatamanagement.techtarget.com/feature/Defining-data-information-and-knowledge ; and more...
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  • ... There is no procedural method to go from data to wisdom. Data does not create information; information does not create knowledge and knowledge does not create wisdom. People use their knowledge to make sense of data and information. People create information that represents their knowledge, which can then be more widely shared.

    Data + Knowledge = Information
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  • Slide #13: How does info evolve into knowledge? It does not and cannot.
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Knowledge Work 2020 Knowledge Work 2020 Presentation Transcript

  • Knowledge Work 2020The future of knowledge workand what it might mean to each of you
    Mark Bernstein
  • "The most important contribution management needs to make in the 21st century is to increase the productivity of the knowledge worker." [Peter Drucker, 1999]
    Why think about the future of knowledge work?
    “Knowledge worker: one who works primarily with information or one who develops and uses knowledge in the workplace”(Peter Drucker, 1959)
    “The most important contribution management needs to make in the 21st century is to increase the productivity of the knowledge worker.” (Peter Drucker, 1999)
    • traditional documents are becoming peripheral,
    • work processes are mediated via digital information flows, View slide
    • knowledge tasks are becoming automated, View slide
    • all forms of communication are being digitally integrated.
  • Let’s explore further …
    What is knowledge work?
    What are the key trends?
    What do they mean for you?
  • evaluating …
    retrieving …
    securing …
    The future of work is knowledge work
    Core knowledge work activities
    … information
    with the goal of making decisions and delivering services
  • More knowledge work concepts
    Tools and applications that support orautomate knowledge work activities:
    Information/document management systems
    Search, analysis, sensemaking, recommendation, planning, and decision support tools
    Communication, collaboration, andknowledge sharing tools
    Education and training tools
    Knowledge domains of amanufacturing organization:
  • Knowledge work components
    Knowledge Work
    Knowledge work is an interaction between:
    • Technology
    • Information
    • Humans
    • Organizations
    Technology is driving the productivity of knowledge work.
    Information is the basis for knowledge and decision making.
    Humans are performing the work.
    Organizationsprovide the structure and networks for knowledge work.
  • Knowledge work 2020 scenarios
    To explore Knowledge Work 2020, we developed
    a baseline scenario,
    key uncertainties
    The following slides highlight the major trends that will impact knowledge work toward 2020, organized around the four components:
    1. Technology
    2. Information
    3. Human
    4. Organization
  • 1. Technology
    The real and the digitalare intimately connected …
    … in virtual worlds
    and augmented realities.
    Any information or experience, real or virtual, can be recorded …
    … and distributed at high bandwidth world-wide
    … meaning anytime anywhere access to intelligence and expertise.
    Reality online and navigation systems for work and life!
  • 1. Technology
    Computers understand some human expression,
    automate simple workflow tasks,
    make specified autonomous decisions,
    … but most knowledge in intelligent agents is still crafted by human experts.
    We continue to deal with informationoverload and complex tasks …
    … while productivity tools give us unprecedented insight and control.
    Imagine TurboTask for all your complex jobs!
  • 1. Technology - reflection
    Fast, embedded, networked computers everywhere
    Virtual worlds and augmented realities
    Workflow automation and knowledge-based support tools
    Autonomous machines for dedicated tasks
    How does the virtual exist in your company?
    Where does digital support exist? What form?
    Do workers’ technologies play? integrate?
    What role does tech play in decision-making?
  • 2. Information
    In 2020, most information is widely available, free, …
    … but still largely authored for human consumption (text, images, video, audio, …)
    Human conversations easily span space, time …
    … but much B2B information is unstructured.
    All information is available in digital form …
    … with embedded provenance and DPRM.
    And, paper will largely disappear fromcompany-internal business processes.
    Wikipedia and YouTube are only the beginning…
  • 2. Information
    What we know is captured in knowledge bases …
    … and can be applied by others in our network.
    There is tremendous value in domain knowledge …
    … but knowledge for intelligent agents is still costly.
    To understand, believe, and control thereasoning of automated agents …
    … we rely on sophisticated security and explanation technologies.
    Knowledge sharing systems & tools for all your enterprise knowledge!
  • 2. Information - reflection
    Huge amounts of dynamic information across many media
    Much communication relying on unstructured information
    Pervasive knowledge bases and knowledge sharing
    Printing is no longer needed in the office
    What ‘jobs’ for digital media in a company?
    Is there structured-unstructured permeability?
    How do your skills become business assets?
    When does info evolve into knowledge? So?
  • 3. Human
    In 2020, knowledge work automation …
    … follows the evolution of factory automation.
    We have automated …
    … what is routine or laborious and of value.
    We have not automated …
    … what is custom,
    needs significant commonsense, tacit, or contextual knowledge, or
    builds on human relationship skills.
    Even many of those jobs are supported by intelligent tools …
    … so novices and people with generic skills are able to do them.
    Automated transactions and self-service everywhere!
  • 3. Human
    Unlike manufacturing, many knowledge work jobs …
    … can be done anywhere by anybody.
    Here or overseas; at home or on the road; part-time or by free agents.
    And if they require a person on site …
    … a lower-skilled worker with remote coaching is often sufficient.
    This increasingly divides knowledge workers …
    … into experts and “librarians”.
    Your experts can be everywhere … and your workers can be anywhere!
  • 3. Human
    The workforce is graying, experts in short supply …
    … further forcing companies to rely on:
    • generic and lower-skilled workers,
    • foreign workers,
    • on-demand education,
    • easy-to-learn knowledge tools, and
    • automation.
    With intelligent tutoring agents andwidely available information …
    … anybody has access to personalized education.
    A majority of novices supported by experts and knowledge-based tools!
  • 3. Human - reflection
    Automation of routine knowledge work
    Intelligent tools supporting non-experts
    Remote work and remote coaching
    Global sourcing and personalized education
    What is the social contract with employees?
    Who owns the distributed knowledge? How?
    What support tools guide optimal outcomes?
    When do tasks get identified and addressed?
  • Free agents as apercentage of workforce
    4. Organization
    In 2020, most work is done by small companies and independent workers …
    … spread across the globe.
    Large companies consist of a small, stable core …
    … and a large “cloud” of independent, temporary, local, mobile employees and contractors.
    Most knowledge workers work in distributed teams …
    … collaborating remotely in virtual environments.
    Small companies are global, large companies feel local…
  • 4. Organization
    Companies need to continuously and rapidly adapt …
    … relying on decentralization, outsourcing, and open innovation.
    Many products are designed, assembled,and sold by temporary alliances …
    … formed on-demand from a global pool, tailored to each need.
    Insufficient regulation and security concerns may impede such alliances …
    … but standardization and on-line markets are removing these concerns.
    Behind the scenes, a continuously evolving value chain!
  • 4. Organization - reflection
    A majority of small companies and independent workers
    Core + cloud enterprises
    Global organizations, remote collaboration
    Market places for dynamic alliances and open innovation
    Where are the resources that distinguish you?
    What are the value chains that now matter?
    Is sustainable advantage only in the “how”?
    Are there models that you can’t consider?
  • The key trends - summary
    Automated knowledge work
    … many workflows automated
    … handcrafted knowledge-based systems
    … the real and digital intimately linked
    … widely accessible, much of it free
    … structured and proprietary in narrow domains
    … majority still authored for human consumption
    … all information available in digital form
    … paper removed from business processes
    … many fewer printed pages
    Human knowledge work
    … nonstandard business communication
    … commonsense reasoning, tacit/contextual knowledge
    … high-value custom work,emotional intelligence
    Web and embedded computing
    … ubiquitous Web devices, connectivity
    … ubiquitous embedded networked computers
    … 1000s of computers per user
    Remote/distributed work
    … many knowledge work jobs done remotely
    … globally standardized work components
    … teams predominantly distributed
  • Further key trends…
    Computer processing
    … exponential increase in power, storage, networking,
    Rights & trust
    … content with embedded provenance
    … including digital property rights, security
    … information will have embedded explanation
    Flexible employment
    … work increasingly at home or on the road
    … graying workforce, expert skills shortage
    … the affordances
    Computer interaction
    … natural, with cameras projectors, touch, gestures..
    … effective voice interaction will still require training
    … high-value custom work,emotional intelligence
    Education & training
    … lifelong learning w/ on-demand mentors
    … intelligent tutoring agents widely available
    … web-based information is broadly linked
    … work done by small companies & free agents
    … large companies are small stable cores w/ clouds
    … products will be sold globally, on-demand alliances
  • Knowledge work 2020 scenarios
    We developed a world contextscenario, a knowledge work baseline scenario, and key uncertainties that can drive extreme outcomes against the indicated scenarios.
    The focus is on the baseline scenario,organized around the four components:
    As an aside, these are key uncertainties:
    driving the productivityof knowledge work
    Free-form and diverse information or structured and standardized?
    basis for knowledgeand decision making
    Humans or intelligent agents performing the work?
    performing the work
    Mix of paper and digital orall digital all the time?
    structure within which knowledge work gets done
    Free and open informationor knowledge monopolies?
    Scarce and expensive orplenty and cheap?
  • Consider the uncertainties – act differently
    • Independent technology investments that enable what’s needed
    • Information tools that span the structured & unstructured
    • Responsibility to enable smarter workers & working decisions
    • Leverage the strengths of the organization to address the weaknesses (don’t break what’s working)
  • Thank you!