The future of knowledge work
online reputation through these rating systems,helping to guide employers in their choice o whom to engage. Millions o workers romaround the world participate in online talentmarketplaces, providing ready access to talentat a range o prices. oDesk reported that hoursworked in its network increased 60 percent in2012 over 2011, to 35 million hours.
oday, talent clouds are commonly used toexecute projects in inormation technology,design, marketing, and market research. Butthe range o skills available through these plat-orms is expanding; among the workers oer-ing their services through such marketplacesare also translators, business analysts, andnancial modelers. Some online talent market-places are supermarkets that represent talentacross the proessional spectrum. Others ocuson a narrow set o specialties. ExpertBids.com, or instance, is a marketplace or legal,accounting, and consulting talent, with taxpreparers and human resources consultantsrecently in high demand.
Some rms are experimenting with creat-ing private talent clouds. IBM is piloting thecreation o a network o soware developerswho can execute discrete soware engineeringtasks. Te initiative, the Liquid Challenge, wasintroduced in Germany around the time therm announced a workorce reduction there,drawing negative commentary rom the media.Nonetheless, IBM is a big believer in virtualorganizations enabled by talent clouds. As IBMCEO Ginni Rometty recently put it, “Te socialnetwork will be the new production line.”
Automating knowledge work
Another major trend is the growing use o technology to automate tasks typically per-ormed by knowledge workers. Organizationsare adopting a variety o technologies, col-lectively labeled articial intelligence (AI),to automate knowledge work. As these tech-nologies improve, increasingly sophisticatedtasks can be automated. One AI technology,machine learning, can discover patterns andcorrelations in data; it can be used to guide thedevelopment o predictive models and analyt-ics. Among the current applications o predic-tive analytics are:•
to accelerate the process o identiying relevant documents, improvecompleteness, and reduce litigation supportcosts by up to 90 percent
to discover the attributes o jobcandidates that predict good perormance
Venture capital investing:
to speed theinvestment decision process and, it ishoped, nudge investment returns higher
Another AI technology helping to automateknowledge work is natural language process-ing. Siri, the automated assistant on iPhonesthat appears to understand and respond tospoken requests, is perhaps the most widely known example o this technology. IBM’sWatson, which combines technologies ornatural language processing, hypothesis gen-eration, and evidence-based learning—all AItechnologies—may have a greater impact onautomating knowledge-intensive tasks rang-ing rom medical diagnosis to responding tocall center inquiries. In pilots with call centers,IBM ound that it could reduce the amount o time operators spend looking or inormationto answer inquiries by hal.
Te US military has long conductedresearch and development on AI and contin-ues to nd new applications or it. Te Navy,or instance, is spending over $10 millionto acquire and deploy AI technologies to“enhance, automate, and improve businessprocesses, resource utilization, decision mak-ing, and interoperability” o some o its key systems, weapons, and activities.