By Steve Hoover

The Future of Work. Digital Transformation. Digitization. Workplace of the Future.

We’ve all heard the buzzwords, but what does this actually mean? And how does this translate to the organizations we lead or support?

I hosted a panel on this exact topic at the Gartner Symposium on Monday, accompanied by my colleague, Victoria Bellotti, a research fellow and social scientist at PARC; Gytis Barzdukas, head of product management for Predix at GE Digital; and Gillis Jonk a partner alumnus and independent strategy consultant for A.T. Kearney.

The future of our organizations and a growing percentage of our customer bases are considered digital natives – those born or brought up during the age of digital technology, individuals who are comfortable with technology and who expect businesses to evolve with technology capabilities and trends. And these digital natives expect businesses to be natively digital, where services are mobile first, always connected, context-aware and personalized.

“Many legacy companies that have been around for decades are now standing still amidst new competition from natively digital startups that seem more relevant to digital natives – but you don’t have to.” – Steve Hoover, CEO, PARC – a Xerox Company

However, creating a natively digital experience for your company isn’t about taking an old process and digitizing it. It’s about observing your business, evaluating it and looking at the whole thing differently. CIOs need to look at technology through a different lens and adapt a new mindset.

Think back to the days before Uber. This company completely shifted the approach to transportation. They started by taking a look at the whole problem of mobility and completely restructured it. Businesses that are born natively digital – like Airbnb, Netflix, Amazon and Square – have been able to completely revolutionize the industries they play in. That’s because they encourage interaction with customers in a way that’s easy to understand and navigate, personal, and in tune with their needs and interests.

But how do legacy companies approach digitization? Gytis discussed how GE, a company with a stake in the ground for a variety of industries — including oil and gas — is using sensor technology to turn information from industrial machines into actionable insight. This then improves business operations and allows the company to adjust, innovate and predict.

Xerox researchers create the future today. Learn more about innovation at Xerox.

Many legacy companies that have been around for decades are now standing still amidst new competition from natively digital startups that seem more relevant to digital natives – but you don’t have to.

Ford, for example, is a company in transformation from auto manufacturer to urban mobility supplier. While Ford is still trying to make the best cars in the world, they are not just selling cars, but also offering mobility as a service. This is a new frontier for Ford. They are running experiments in lease-sharing, autonomous vehicles and apps to learn about mobility and transportation needs. They also recognize they need new talent, so they are hiring people from outside the auto industry, and they recently opened an innovation center in Palo Alto, just down the street from us at PARC.

When we think about digital natives as employees in our businesses, they expect to work with natively digital tools, which have the same capabilities as the tools in their personal lives. They bring their own devices to work, and use instant message tools like Facebook Messenger and Slack to communicate instead of picking up the phone. Touchpoints and experiences outside of work are now expected by these digital natives inside the four walls of the office.

Gillis chimed in with one of the most important discussions in our whole panel: When building a digital plan, leaders should build this plan with their people, not for their people.

We’re at the cusp of a set of radical changes in how technology can make a huge difference in how work gets done. And our job is to envision what’s possible in the future and create it, enabling organizations to get the job done in the easiest, most seamless way.