In its article, The Wall Street Journal has articulated this increasing pace well by outlining how much time it took different technologies to reach 50 million users:
- Landline phones – 75 years
- Cars – 62 years
- TV – 22 years
- Twitter – 2 Years
- Angry Birds – 35 days
What this shows is that change is on a rapid upward trajectory with social media, AI, robotics and automation drastically outpacing government policy and their ability to regulate. With technology now taking days instead of years to reach millions of people, we as consultants must keep pace. Change is being adopted faster and by larger groups of people. The rapid pace illustrated above will have significant impacts on the workforce including where and how they work, what skills are needed, what technology they will use, the impact is truly all-encompassing. So how can we help our clients with these emerging issues?
The future digital workforce
Digital future workforce planning focuses on this specific issue, helping organisations prepare for change. The subject itself is too large to discuss fully in one article, but at its core, it can help businesses prepare for change brought about by digitalisation. Future digital workforce includes change management and HR transformation, operating models, analytics, psychology and how they all interact with today’s big technology buzz words, it simply cannot be ignored by any organisation.
Key topics organisations need to prepare for, to embrace this change:
- Continuous learning – Learning one trade or skill set at college or university will no longer guarantee a lifetime career in that discipline. Instead, the workforce will continuously train and re-train less formally, smaller and with more regularly as technology automates jobs – as the workforce shifts away from manual labour, data entry and repetitive tasks into roles working with data and artificial intelligence.
- Recruitment – Capgemini’s study on The Digital Talent Gap found 29% of employees believe their skill set is redundant now or will be in the next 1-2 years. The type of person organisation looks for will change, behaviours and attitudes will take president, ahead of qualifications and experience instead recruiting individuals who are able to be successful across an organisation as it changes over time,
- Contracts – Organisations may need to shift away from recruiting specific skill sets on a long-term basis, employing the specific skills for a moment in time on a shorter term contractual basis (gig economy). This ensures the workforce is dynamic and can respond to deal with the new challenge before them.
- Investments – Investments in technology must go hand in hand with investments in people. In a world where the button line and stock prices are king, heavy investments in technology will fail if similar investments are not made in the workforce. With that said, embedding continuous learning in organisations doesn’t have to break the bank, intelligent, targeted investment into effective practices is needed. Encouraging workforces to engage with online learning platforms including MooCs (Massive Open Online Courses), TED talks, podcasts, Open University courses etc… can play a part
Let’s not forget change is scary, we as humans will naturally oppose it but that won’t stop it happening. Planning for the future and having a workforce prepared to re-train and up-skill is key to ensure a business can continue to grow and succeed in this increasingly digitalised world.