Just a few weeks ago I received a text message ordering a small bouquet of flowers. The message instructed that the flowers used in the bouquet should be white, green and black, matching with the colours of the sender’s wedding dress. It made me realise that the wedding season is getting close again.
I think many can agree that it is easy to be joyful about the happiness of others, like watching newly wedded couples committing their love to each other and looking towards a shared future.
Working in the business-to-business environment, I have to admit I haven’t received all that many messages concerning such life-changing moments or feelings of true love and joy. But I do believe long-term commitment is getting all the more important in business-to-business relationships as well.
Just the other day I met a potential customer who wanted to develop the efficiency of their purchase-to-pay process. We had a thorough discussion involving everything from sourcing strategies and matching of invoices to robotics and artificial intelligence.
One of the thoughts that stayed with me after the meeting was what ultimately defines a world-class workflow system? Is it a system that saves time and effort making it easy for users to manage their invoices, or is it a system that doesn’t actually require users to manage the invoices themselves at all anymore?
Reading the day-to-day reports on the on-going change in our society can make you a little philosophical. The new wave of automation is expected to atomize up to 50 percent of jobs today in the fields of accounting, sales and even modelling, for example. It is easy to realize that the old truths are no longer valid and that the predicted future is already the reality in many occupations.
So, I came to the conclusion that maybe what defines a true world-class system is automated user-friendliness. Just think of the benefits! You could have more time to invest in your strategic alliances or even to spend outside the office with your spouse. Does it sound like science fiction to be able to get more time off from work? Well, it doesn’t have to. Just take a look at Sweden, where the working hours were successfully reduced from the 45-hour weekly standard to the current 40-hour working week from the 1950s to the 1970s. And now there are occasional discussions about the possibility of introducing a six-hour workday.
By the way, the message ordering the small wedding bouquet was not meant for me but to my wife, who is working as a florist. Florists need both social skills and creativity in their line of work, so it is one of the jobs that are not threatened by automation in the future.
Personally, I will most probably never be a florist, as I don’t have the skills needed to create pretty bouquets. But who knows, maybe someday I will be doing something totally different. The nature of my work may very well evolve in the future, too. When the world is changing, why not change with it?