The Future of Change Management: 2019, 2020, and Beyond

What does the future of change management look like in 2019, 2020, and the 2020s?

There are a few major trends that define change management today:

  • New change management practices
  • New technology developments
  • The digital skills gap
  • Digital workplaces and cultures
  • Changing roles and responsibilities

Below, we’ll explore these trends in detail, to help you prepare for change management in the next decade.

The Future of Change Management: Top Trends 

Change management is changing.

As change managers know, technology is fueling many of these changes.

But these shifts aren’t restricted to technology adoption.

Technological advances ripple out into many other business areas, from culture to the customer experience.

Here are some of the biggest change management trends to expect in 2019, 2020, and the 2020s.

New Change Management Practices

Change management’s future will be fueled by a combination of changing cultures, technology, and business practices.

Here are a few ways that change management practices will change:

  • Agile Change Management – Agile software development has trickled into many other disciplines, including change management. This approach to change management can help companies stay responsive, reactive, and flexible.
  • Data-Driven Methods – Data offers insights, intelligence, and information. These insights can improve project management, timelines, results, and more.
  • Lean Thinking – Like agile, lean is a way of thinking that has affected many business disciplines. By integrating feedback into incremental iteration cycles, companies can evolve their projects quickly and stay adaptable.
  • Digital Change Management – Digitally-driven change is still human-centric, but it is powered by technology. Today, it is important to take advantage of technology solutions, such as digital adoption platforms, onboarding solutions, and project management tools.
  • Digital AdoptionDigital adoption has become a core driver of many change management projects. This has spawned an entire industry that is adjacent to change management, including developments such as digital adoption managers, digital adoption solutions, and digital adoption strategies.

Today, many change managers have yet to integrate these ideas into their everyday workflows.

However, in the coming years, these trends will continue their upward trend.

During the coming years, they will continue to shape the future of change management.

Technological Advances

The recurring theme in change management today is technology.

Established change management practices will not change – change frameworks, resistance management, risk analysis and management, and so on.

However, the biggest factor impacting the future of change management will be technology.

Here are a few examples of trends to watch for:

  • The Digitizing Workplace – The digital workplace implements modern technology as well as digital workflows. Online collaboration, virtual teams, remote working, and other trends will continue to change the way we work together.
  • AI – Artificial intelligence is already being implemented in today’s largest technology companies, such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon. However, we are just seeing the beginning of a larger wave. Employees will be affected by automation, advancements in digital skills training, improvements to data and analytics applications, and more.
  • Automation – Automation of tasks and job roles will impact the workforce both positively and negatively – by taking over mundane tasks and freeing up worker time. Automation, such as RPA, is powered by AI, but it is only one application of that technology. Change managers should concern themselves with its impact upon the workplace, employees, and their company culture.
  • Data Technology – AI, machine learning, deep learning, and data science will continue to evolve. Advances in this area will improve change management in many areas: better software, deeper insights, and better project results, for starters.
  • New Software Platforms – New software, tools, and platforms are released daily. Each time an organization adopts new tools, they must install, test, and deploy those tools. They must also train users, analyze effectiveness, improve user productivity, and maximize software ROI. 

In the 2020s, new technology is predicted to go mainstream, such as VR and drone technology. 

This emergence will require an even greater commitment to change management.

The Digital Skills Gap

The above trends will have a more specific on change management, thanks to digital transformation.

Technology implementation, digital adoption, and digital transformation are dramatically impacting the workforce.

New technology needs new skills.

But upskilling takes time, energy, and investment.

Fortunately, employee training improves employee productivity, which improves satisfaction, retention, and loyalty.

However, change managers must make provisions for the increasing need for digital skills.

Here’s how today’s trends will impact change management in the future:

  • The establishment of in-house training programs. In-house training has become common for larger enterprises, especially during technology adoption and digital adoption projects. 
  • Hiring digital adoption managers. Digital adoption managers are tasked with the management, adoption, and optimal utilization of new technology.
  • Prioritizing the employee experience. The employee experience is critical – and tenuous – in changing work environments. Change managers will need to maintain and monitor this experience closely as workplaces continue to evolve.

Ultimately, each company will need to define its own training mix. 

That training mixture will depend on the company’s budget, its work culture, its industry, and so on.

Change managers should work closely with business leaders to develop a training strategy for the next decade.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.