ARE YOU PREPARED
Many may be aware of the digital age and all the groundbreaking innovative products, processes and services that are being introduced around us. We have seen the way they impact our lives, changed the way we shop, we bank as well as to communicate with others.
The ‘digital economy’ it is called. It is the changing the way business interacts with consumers, the way brands position themselves, and most importantly, the kind of skills and competencies firms source. It is an exciting age indeed, but how many workers have thought of the impact this will have on their current occupations?
We may be aware that roles involving repetitive tasks such as bookkeepers, cashiers and tellers are being replaced by automated machines. How about the structure of organizations? How about other skills required in organizations? How about contracting and reporting lines? Are we fully aware of the might of these changes?
Leading consulting firms have conducted extensive research on these topics and give some highlights of the future of work and how we can be better prepared for it:
To be relevant in the future, qualifications alone will no longer suffice. Employees will have to embark on life long training and learning. This requires a shift in mindset from both employers and employees.
Agile structures and collaborations
Organizations will surrender the traditional hierarchy system and adopt a collaborative team of networks consisting of freelancers and contractors. Employee contracts will shift away from permanent employ to a more ad-hoc type of contracting, with flexible work hours.
A large part of today’s workforce will have to be re-trained, and their tasks re-designed.
Human- machine interface
Some scholars believe that computer systems, machines and robots will dehumanize human beings. These innovations assist in achieving organizational efficiencies but cannot provide the much-needed creativity required in the workplace. Therefore, the two will be required to work together to achieve organizational goals.
Rising life expectancy
In the future, more humans are expected to live beyond the age of a 100 years. Further, more professionals are opting to retire later than 65 or not at all. This will call for an understanding from all generations to understand and empathize with one another in the workplace.
The executives’ role of tomorrow will require more adaptive, creative problem-solving skills, while at the same time maintaining the right skills set required in the organisation. Executives of tomorrow will have to be skilled in change management to effectively manage the above.
Further, the emergence of AI and machine learning have given rise to cyber-security threats and new compliance regulations. The leadership of tomorrow will be compelled to keep up to date with all laws governing block chain, the internet of things, so on and so forth. Similar to employees, leaders will also have to undergo continuous learning and training.
Data driven and automated Finance department
All transactional finance processes will be fully automated, thus significantly reducing the head count in this department. For example, the finance department will be integrated with smart contracts, and automatically bill at pre-determined milestones. Finance will continue to play a major role in strategic thinking, but with a more emphasis on risk management. Finance will use predictive analytics to investigate the implications of strategic decisions, to plan for possible shocks and to manage the growing threat of cyber risk.
These new advances in technology have given birth to new occupations and roles within an organisation. Human Resources (HR) is one such department. Today, most firms have talent acquisition managers, to take care of employees. But, as mentioned earlier, contractors are on the rise, and what is therefore required is a ‘Total Workforce Expert’ to align, engage and connect the entire workforce. A Data Analysist would be required for large organizations with hundreds of employees. These analytics would give insight into trends and behavior and subsequently inform company strategy.
With more organizations doing their marketing and branding via social media, there will be a need for ‘Social Media Managers’. This individual would be responsible for designing a social media strategy that is in line with the brand identity, the company’s audience and goals. They also design a plan to tackle a social media reputation crisis. This role of course is greatly supported by a ‘Community Manager’ – who’s role is to actively engage the online community; to connect with potential customers and boost awareness for the brand.
Similarly, the financial sector will also see the formation of new roles such crypto product manager, crowd fund broker as more disruption takes place in the industry. Drone pilots, space logistics planner and drone delivery network managers will be required in the transport and freight industry.
So, what does this mean for workers of today? Do we wait for the change to happen or prepare in advance for this change.? We may not have control over how fast robots take over our jobs and possibly leave us obsolete, but we surely have a choice to start upskilling ourselves now, today. Should that day come, when our roles are automated, we should be possessing the relevant skills to advance to futuristic roles within the organisation or industry at large.
By Bophelo Kanetsi