The main force behind the digital disruption of the workforce won’t be technology, as many expect, according to Ben Pring, Director of the Centre for the Future of Work, Cognizant.

The innovative approach required for digital disruption to succeed will instead come from talented people.

“Collaboration will have a huge role to play in enabling an innovation mindset for talented individuals,” Pring told HRD.

“Attracting and managing the people needed to foster a digital shift will differ from the ways of the past.”

“Employers can start encouraging a culture of collaboration through using technology in the right ways.”

One example is to give people the tools they need to free up their time from administrative or mundane tasks, so teams can collaborate on creative initiatives, customer-centric improvements to the business, and experimentation.

Pring said there are many headlines claiming that robots and machines will take over jobs from people in the coming decades.

For the next generation of jobseekers, especially those with qualifications, competition between people and machines will indeed be fiercer than we’ve observed in the past.

“However, what these insights often neglect to consider is that a new cohort of talent will be needed to engage with, manage, and extract insights from new artificially-intelligent platforms, such as robots and other machines,” he said.

“Working collaboratively will not just apply to working with other people, but having the skills to work effectively and efficiently with machines also. This will involve training employees to maximise their uniquely human capabilities to work in tandem with machines.”

Indeed, a recent study by Cognizant revealed a clear imperative for leaders to build a roster of digital skills to accelerate innovation.

Findings showed that 94% of executives believe a “moderate” or “severe” digital skills gap is preventing their organisations from reaching their digital future.

“Organisations who are falling behind in digital adoption are those who still take a rigid approach to organisational management, and operate in siloes, which typically restrict the flow of knowledge,” said Pring.

“If employers don’t address the skills gap soon, they risk losing a competitive edge to those who are adopting digital initiatives.

“We are now observing more and more organisations changing the way they manage people to address this, such as replacing legacy management methods with small, nimble clusters of talent that work collaboratively, and encourage a culture of innovation.

“In order to stay ahead of the curve, workers do not need to be faster or cheaper than machines. Instead, organisations should focus on helping (and hiring) employees to develop, hone and capitalise on the capabilities that are uniquely human-focused and cannot be replicated by machines.”

Source: Humans Resources Director

5th March 2018