The impact that digital transformation will have on our modern workforce cannot be overstated. Some estimate that two-thirds of children entering elementary school today will work in roles that don’t even exist yet.
Meanwhile, experts recently predicted that 7 million jobs will be lost by 2020 due to technology – and only 2 million will be gained. The truth is, none of us can accurately predict what the future of work holds. But it’s clear that ignoring today’s tech advances would be the equivalent of ignoring the development of the assembly line at the start of the Industrial Revolution.
If you’re a manager, you’re likely stressing over the technology you can (or should) be using to help your business run more efficiently. If you’re an employee, you’re likely wondering whether your job will even be here tomorrow. As the saying goes: “The only way out is through.” Employees and executives need to learn to embrace technology, and grasp what it means for the modern business world.
Here are just a few of the advances that hold tremendous promise for the workplace.
Automation and Artificial Intelligence
It used to be that major U.S. corporations outsourced mundane tasks overseas – and even their entire customer-service sector – to keep costs down. Today, they’re using automation and artificial intelligence to complete those tasks.
One report shows that 45% of daily business activities could be automated with technology that already exists. Advancements in machine learning, data mining, and even emotional intelligence have the potential to turn current org structures on their heads – and to save plenty of time and money in the process.
While Boston Consulting Group predicted that up to 25% of jobs will be replaced by smart software or robots by 2025, we don’t need to panic. You could easily use a machine to create a draft of this article – but my editors would still want me to add my own thoughts and perspectives. In that sense, the trend is that automation, robots, and machines will likely function primarily as “partners” to help employees work more efficiently. They’ll take on tasks (ranging from mundane to difficult and dangerous), but not entire job functions.
If you’re not currently using the as-a-Service (aaS) model to simplify your company’s tech, your life is likely more complicated than it needs to be.
Gone are the days of purchasing pricey software packages and managing your company’s network and storage via expensive, in-house data centers. Today’s Everything-as-A-Service (XaaS) model allows companies to outsource their software, infrastructure, and platform management via cloud- and web-based service providers. This frees up your IT team to focus on the next big tech trend instead of the next big software glitch or upgrade. It will also save you lots of money by ensuring that you only pay for the services you need – when you need them.
Mobility and Global Collaboration
I can hear you already: “Yeah, yeah, our team has been using videoconferencing for years.” My response: “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
The promise of mobility tools will grow exponentially as companies begin to realize their true collaborative value through data sharing, cloud management, and 24/7 access. This is especially true because of the concurrent growth of the global contingent workforce. Because of today’s collaborative technology, employees are no longer limited by geographic location, commute time, or childcare schedules – and neither is your company.
Even better news: Remote employees are also more productive. Harvard Business Review recently studied one company that allowed half of its employees to work from home for a 12-month period. The remote group not only saved the company money in terms of overhead, but it also showed 13.5% higher productivity than those who worked from the office. The lesson: Technology is here to make your company stronger. Do not run from it.
The Human Mind
At the end of the day, the human mind is still the most valuable technology we have in today’s business market – and we haven’t even uncovered a fraction of its potential. As Shakespeare wrote, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” In other words, data is nothing without someone to thoughtfully analyze and apply meaning to it.
As business leaders and choice-makers, we need to understand that the onus is still on us to process how technology can best benefit our companies and our lives. No amount of technology can replace human perspective – at least not yet. —Dan Newman, Cofounder of V3*Broadsuite
Image by: Stuart Miles