In response to a common question surrounding the advancement of automation making the human workforce redundant, a tech expert explains how these advances can be used to leverage human potential in the digital age.
- Organisations need to embrace the growth mindset.
- Organisations need a robust and real-time workforce skill index framework for assessing their workforce on digital skills.
- The demand for higher cognitive skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, decision making will grow rapidly through the coming decades.
and AI. Connected devices and IoT. Cognitive and Robotics. Blockchain and Cyber Security. VR and 3D printing. 5G and Genomics. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. It is all here, almost at the same time. The meaning of work, the way of work and the workplace are all undergoing a seismic transformation powered by these technologies. As the recent NASSCOM
clearly articulates, digital transformation will contribute a whopping $154 billion to India's GDP by 2021. Make no mistake. While this is a time of great promise, it is also a time that needs us to
think new and act now.' The future is not emerging. It is here.
We all know that automation is real and pervasive, and it will drive reduction in physical and manual skills. Traditional jobs will become redundant, and high-tech
will be the order of the day. From an India perspective, there are a few angles to these dynamics:
(1) Working-age population grows by roughly
annually, so there is a need to continually create jobs.
(2) As per the recent McKinsey '
report, 65 million jobs could be created by 2025 and there is a need to train people for the digital age.
(3) 45 million workers will find their jobs displaced, and they require reskilling and redeployment. The survivors of these highly disruptive times would be people who understand how they work and can innovate, develop, and adapt.
Introspect on this one question -
As machines do more and more, what will humans be left to
The core lies in understanding the 'Humanics' of this context; i.e. the ability to leverage the enhanced 'mechanics' powered by these technological advances to amplify the human potential. One could view the Humanics through four key dimensions.
- Mindset - Culture over crisis. Organisations, large and small, need to embrace the digital and innovation culture, and growth mindset. Think Peter Drucker who said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Think Kubler-Ross' change curve and the movement that each knowledge worker needs to do from denial to acceptance. This digital disruption is rapidly uprooting the old, creating new business models, transforming talent and shaking up industries. The difference between analog and digital is simply this - the pace of change is rapid, and the change never stops. Organisational culture needs to instil lifelong learning, to be in front of this change.
- Magnify - Talent over Technology. Organisations need a robust and real-time workforce skill index framework for assessing their workforce on digital and drive skilling in AI, MI, robotics, blockchain, cyber security, and more. For the organisation, it makes far more common sense to train the current workforce and reduce attrition, instead of hiring more employees. In a similar vein, knowledge worker skills are like code-builds that happen almost every minute - frequent upgrades, multiple careers, diverse roles are the norm. And the individuals need to feverishly pursue skill upgrades to make them credible and, relevant in their industries and domains - Data Scientists, Product Incubation Managers, Journey Mappers, Business Modelers, Emerging Tech Specialists and more. Service providers should also create an environment of experimentation where the employees could unleash their creativity. Global organisations have institutionalised digital transformation centres and labs which provides young minds from universities a conducive environment to explore ideas and transform into business outcomes for their global clients.
- Move - Human over Machine. The human brain is the most sophisticated machine on the planet. Move it to where it belongs. Teach the skills that machines are a long way from mastering. The demand for finely tuned social and emotional skills such as behavioural economics, interpersonal skills and empathy, and the demand for higher cognitive skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, decision making, and complex information processing, will very rapidly grow through the next couple of decades. Organisations need focused programs where they can train digital experts in these important skills. It is not all about tech or the machine. It is about how humans leverage machines, to amplify their own potential.
- Master - Bridge over divide. Skill-based education is at the core of emerging economy like India. This can be successfully accomplished through collaboration between the IT sector and academia. Educational institutions are better off leveraging an industry-verified framework, created by subject matter experts, to help people skill themselves in new and emerging technologies. There are already many examples today of IT-academia collaboration and this needs to be rolled out across every single city and town, rural and urban. The advantage of this approach is that it prepares potential employees who are 'ready to deploy' in these niche technologies for demand-based hiring, a trend that's making big waves in the IT industry.
While the IT industry has taken rapid strides in the last decade, the digital transformation game is still in its infancy. We are at a point of inflection and the possibilities are endless.
Samson David is the Chief Delivery Officer
an American multinational corporation that provides B2B IT services.