By Mark Bernstein, CEO of PARC

Today was my first “Real Business Live” event, where select Xerox customers get together socially to think differently about their business. I always enjoy talking with customers and clients because they have very real business challenges, often linked to the information problems we are working on in research.

My goal for the time I had today was to be provocative about the future of work and to incite broader thinking about information since the nature of the problem is growing faster than the capability for effective solutions. I used a few slides compressed from collaborative research done on “Knowledge Work 2020” by PARC and other researchers from the Xerox Innovation Group centers in Toronto, Ontario in Canada; Grenoble, France; and Webster, New York.

The findings point to more intelligent systems operating on information in support of humans engaged in complex tasks that require knowledge to make decisions; more use of collaborative and social technologies to mediate the time and space problem of distributed and even asynchronous work around the globe; and lots more networked computation operating in the world at large.

A few of the key problems faced by businesses over the next decade will be the social contracts with their employees and partners as the adaptability and flexibility enabled by technology become requirements, not opportunities. How do businesses capture the critical tacit knowledge of their older employees as they retire? How do businesses enable new employees to be productive in different ways with new technologies and the skills that come with them?

Much of what we know about today will not be relevant in 10 years. We will all need to become skilled at learning new things from new sources and working more effectively with more people from different backgrounds. That sounds like an exciting future for all of us!

Jon Fortt, technology & innovation editor for FORTUNE magazine, and Mark Bernstein, CEO of PARC, gather onstage for a Q&A during the Real Business Live! event in Phoenix.

Jon Fortt, technology & innovation editor for FORTUNE magazine, and Mark Bernstein, CEO of PARC, gather onstage for a Q&A during the Real Business Live! event in Phoenix.