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Future of workforce: A tech driven roadmap

July 31, 2018

Aadesh Goyal   

Chief Human Resources Officer, Tata Communications

While many organisations have all the ingredients to grow smartly in the digital era, are they doing enough to nurture their biggest asset – their people?

The global business landscape is undergoing a rapid paradigm shift. We’re living and operating in an era marked by new technologies such as Big Data & Analytics, Cloud, AI, IoT, Machine Learning, etc. which are disrupting markets and businesses, with a constant demand to innovate.

In this new context, the success of an organisation’s digital transformation journey is not limited to technology adoption and innovation. A huge part of digital transformation is the people who enable this very change. A winning digital strategy requires employees to have the right skill set to be agile and adaptive to ride the technology wave and ensure organisations are future ready.

One of the key reasons digital success eludes most organisations is a failure to recognise that employees are at the heart of this digital transformation. Smarter enterprises, on the other hand, relentlessly innovate by investing in talent through various learning and development programmes, embracing and encouraging diversity and ensuring all employees are digitally savvy.

It is important to recognise that the approach to talent management and retention cannot be the same as it was in the past. The nature of work is rapidly changing. These new digital technologies aren’t just disrupting markets and organisations, they’re creating new roles, augmenting existing ones and rendering others redundant.

There’s been a lot of debate around this but I subscribe to the technology as an enabler school of thought even it comes to people strategy and jobs. For example, consider AI. As per Gartner, while AI is predicted to impact 1.8 million jobs, it will also create 2.3 million jobs by 2020. This makes it all the more critical for organisations to train employees in new skills to not only avoid redundancy, but also to be able use AI or any other technologies for that matter, to their advantage and bring in a new layer of productivity and efficiency.

Technology isn’t the evil super villain we should be afraid of – we should leverage it to the best of our ability. AI augmentation, a combination of human and artificial intelligence, where both complement each other, is the new way forward.

Embracing innovation and risk taking, leaders of organisations need to be the change agents, fostering a culture of continual learning and improvement. It’s all about creating the right culture where employees can function as an empowered unit working in sync with the organisation to make the most of information systems, talent, cross functional partnerships and changing career definitions. This needs to be balanced through employee wellness programmes, inclusiveness and flexibility at the workplace. This isn’t just a millennial wish-list anymore. They’re critical business imperatives that provide employees a healthy work-life balance with direct impact on organisational productivity.

Organisations that are willing to enable this journey to learn will be empowered to anticipate future demands along with addressing current skill shortages. Having said that, it is equally important to acknowledge that the responsibility for upskilling rests as much on the employees as it does on the organisations.

The occupational shifts in the years ahead will be critical to augment digital transformation across industries. By one popular estimate, 65% of children entering primary school today will be working in job roles that don’t yet exist. Therefore, it is imperative to anticipate and prepare for future skills, such that man and machine can work side-by-side to stay relevant through this transformative journey.


Read more about the digital-first workforce here.