When faced with a choice between working with someone with the best digital tools on hand, or someone without, the vast majority of us will choose to work with the former. This could be the nurse, teacher, marketer, or sales assistant who is equipped with a sophisticated system of intelligence—be that personalised digital health history, or data insights into a complex customer journey. These are the people whose capabilities have been enhanced by technology.
People the world over are choosing to work with people and technology, and the best employees will want to work for businesses who can provide them with the tools they need to do the best job possible. Businesses who haven’t fully embraced technologies such as artificial intelligence or data analytics not only do themselves a disservice by spending time on inefficient tasks or incorrectly allocating resources, but also risk not attracting the best talent—those at the top of their field only want to work where they have the tools to do great work.
When you have working professionals who use technology to help them, they will do a better job. This enhanced job capability is powered by algorithms, mobile technology, and automated features that allow work to be done faster and more accurately. As the business world occupies itself with talks of job losses due to automation, it neglects to acknowledge the positive effects of technology on jobs: that a job enhanced, not replaced by technology, will be a protected job in the new world order.
What then, does a technology-enhanced workplace look like? There are a number of ways business leaders can begin implementing workplace planning to transform their businesses, which will ensure they are not forced to look at redundancies as costs spiral, customers leave, and the world moves on without them.
Technology will save your job, not replace it
At the core of enhancement is a simple idea that nearly every individual’s abilities can be improved by technology. Enhanced jobs are about improving work, not replacing it. Underlying technologies that empower employees achieve a number of measures: they decrease inefficiencies, provide greater accuracies, and lead to greater productivity.
Job enhancement isn’t just about efficiencies though. Creative thinking and cultural change are what will move your business forward, and people need time and freedom to focus on these tasks. Technology gives people the freedom to deprioritise tedious work to focus on big picture, creative thinking and customer service ― all hallmarks of an innovative company.
A culture of innovation is only achieved from the top-down. Buy-in from executive teams and the ability to effectively deal with change management will be crucial as jobs become more enhanced. At commercial, societal and economic levels, understanding the power of digital tools and how they can enhance human performance will be the difference between a company of yesterday and a company of tomorrow.
The winners will be those whose digital transformation is led from the top. These crucial decision-makers will also need to possess the capability to recognise how everyday processes can enhance jobs, not replace them—otherwise we’re in a race to the bottom where everything is automated, and only low prices will tempt customers to choose someone over a competitor.
Retraining is key to retaining in the knowledge economy
Business leaders as well as employees need to face the challenge of enhanced jobs as a collective. This challenge involves company-wide upskilling initiatives. Through these retraining strategies, existing employee talents are enhanced with the application of technology. Such retraining can include leadership skills, reasoning and interpreting with logic, applying judgement, and being creative—things that are uniquely human.
A recent Cognizant Centre for the Future of Work study found that 2,000 senior business leaders believe that analytical thinking is the top area in which employees need to upskill (21 per cent).
Upskilling and retraining will become a cornerstone of the enhanced job, which is a far more effective means of integrating technology into your processes, instead of replacing your workforce with robots — an approach, which, for many, is simply not feasible or desirable.
Across industry sectors ― healthcare, financial services, education — the key to future success is finding a specific business process and applying a system of intelligence to work in a way that both enhances business outcomes and protects jobs. Any panic around job losses is largely unfounded, because ultimately an enhanced job is a protected job. Such intelligence through enhancement will not only lead to improved human capabilities in jobs, but will also lead to unprecedented levels of profitability and productivity for businesses.
Benjamin Pring is Co-Director at Centre for the Future of Work, Cognizant, and Co-Author of “What to Do When Machines Do Everything: How to Get Ahead in a World of AI, Algorithms, Bots, and Big Data”
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