"It seems beyond debate: Technology is going to replace jobs or, more precisely, the people holding those jobs. Few industries, if any, will be untouched." So says Joseph Pistrui, professor of Entrepreneurial Management at IE Business School (Spain), writing in a January Harvard Business Review article.
There is no shying away from the fact that technology is becoming increasingly capable of changing both the way businesses are run and the way that we conduct business on a local and global scale. An increased flow of ideas, efficiency, connectivity, and the automation of tactile jobs are just some of the major advantages of incorporating technology into everyday business transactions. Although the benefits of new technological systems and artificial intelligence are prolific, there are drawbacks to this fast evolution of business, particularly in our increasingly global world. One major drawback is the strong possibility of a looming labour shortage; a shortage that could fast become a crisis.
Of course, there are other factors that will contribute to the shift in our labour environment including birth rates, retirement age, and immigration policies. But skill levels and worker productivity are undoubtedly two of the most substantial. Our current business atmosphere has been made possible by the implementation of technical innovations, and despite the fact that companies have strained to navigate our current corporate environment, the future impact and the growing importance of innovative new technologies in the workplace remains unclear and, potentially, highly destabilising with respect to demands for labour. As Deloitte Insights reports, “The growing use of digital technologies, robotics, and artificial intelligence are expected to require a company’s existing workforce to learn different skills as technology advances… About 90 percent of organizations anticipate their industries will be completely disrupted by digital trends. At the same time, 70 percent of organizations believe that their current employees will not be able to manage this disruption.”
This is not new news, of course, but the prospect of a workforce crisis remains nonetheless a serious boardroom discussion and is potentially daunting. Companies and their employees are simply unsure of what to expect. Many employees are curious about the future of the workplace and the potential change in employee responsibilities and job status. A failure of employees to adapt, learn, and actually master new ways of working and new technologies, may mean a company-wide decrease in productivity and competitiveness. Consequently, within many companies the challenge of selecting, training, and preparing talent, which falls upon the Human Resources and Training departments, will require them to spearhead initiatives and become vectors for change within the entire organisation.
In 2019, the MERIT Leadership Community has put this key issue on the agenda for online and live events worldwide, to allow you to engage in a dialogue with peers about these key issues and changes faced by HR and learning directors. How better to help prepare your firm to maintain efficiency and productivity in the wake of crisis than to share knowledge and best practices and discuss the impact of initiatives involving talent management and new technologies openly with peers?
Because MERIT understands learning and HR challenges, we have dedicated several 2019 events to the topic of the impending impacts of technology on people and leadership, such as the shift the workplace will see with the implementation of artificial intelligence. By discussing and planning with other HR directors, you can explore strategic solutions based on new ideas, learning, case studies, and best practices that will help you be a better vector for digital change and a more informed leader in the face of technological and human transition.
Check out: Careers of the Future
Gabrielle Kerins, MERIT Digital Author