Tech Talking Points: CWS Summit & Collaboration in the Gig Economy 2018

The pace of change is accelerating, but people remain at the center of the most meaningful tech progress.

By John Healy, VP & Managing Director  |  October 22, 2018

Earlier this month, I spent a fascinating few days here at the CWS Summit North America and Collaboration in the Gig Economy 2018. I was lucky enough to connect with some extremely smart people from across the talent and tech world and I’m hugely excited about the levels of innovation and collaboration we are seeing within our industry. The progress we are making as a collective is amazing, with technologies advancing so fast, it’s easy to blink and miss the next big leap forward. What fills me with optimism for the future, though, is the commitment to collaboration across the board. Not just within companies and organizations, but between tech companies, staffing organizations, and big business. There seems to be a growing understanding that in order to meet the wave of change, we need to work together. Putting human needs at the center of an increasingly tech-focused world.

I’ve brought together my key takeaways from a thought-provoking few days in Dallas, below.

Tech Companies Are Stepping Up

To create the most capable and creative talent technologies, we need expertise from the tech world. But for tech minds to create the most relevant technologies to support the world of work, they need to understand the talent landscape. What I’ve seen at this year’s event is an increasing understanding of the talent world by key players in tech. They are putting time and resources into understanding what we do and why we do it, and we are seeing more focused and specialized tech solutions as a result.

AI Won’t Kill the Worker

One of the most impactful speakers I saw at this year’s event was Dr. Vivienne Ming, founder of Soco Labs and an exceptionally talented theoretical neuroscientist and technologist. She spoke about the most meaningful skills we need to develop in our professional human workforce, a section of society who will be most profoundly hit by advances in AI and technology. I agree that it’s important to look at AI as an augmentation to what humans can achieve rather than as a tool to replace human input. Skills like creativity and social interaction will be vital in any future workforce regardless of the huge advances we are likely to make in technology.    

Progress Built Around People

It’s sometimes easy, in a room full of technological wonders, to forget the human in the digital equation. But people must be at the center of every advance we make. If technology is not based on the needs and strengths of people, it falls flat. One speaker, who brought this fact into clear focus was Allison Robinson, founder and CEO of The Mom Project. She spoke about the emotional, aspirational, and social needs of the workforce, which are just as vital to their contribution to work as the technological tools they use. The gig economy, in particular, talent platforms, have to become more than just talent portals, serving instead as talent communities that address the wider needs of gig workers.

We Need To Stop Fighting Symptoms

In the race to provide technological solutions, we sometimes fall into the trap of simply treating the symptoms of wider problems. This has led to a raft of micro-technologies failing to provide cohesive answers and creating widespread inefficiencies. It’s important that however fast the pace of change, we invest in tech that offers tangible benefits for end users in a smart and meaningful way. This may mean challenging long-held ideas and getting comfortable about being uncomfortable.

The talent world is evolving, and tech is a huge part of that rapid growth. Understanding the ways tech can support the needs of people within talent, challenging our perceptions of what change should look like, and collaborating across industry lines are all ways that we can keep pace with a brave new talent world.  

I’d also like to offer my sincere thanks to all the people who stopped by the KellyOCG hospitality suite for our thought lab session. And who very kindly shared their experiences, ideas, and insights. Your input is incredibly valuable in building solutions that offer real and lasting benefits. Collaboration is key to creating the future of talent.

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