Humanity is undergoing a new period of tremendous technological advances. The next five to 20 years should bring incredible challenges as well as opportunities. Entrepreneurs, academics, and the government are all looking for ways to navigate these changes in terms of how they impact the workplace. A roadmap is needed that all stakeholders in the organization agree to and one that benefits all.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
An industrial revolution involves technological advances that people can apply to improve various production processes. The reality is much messier.
The first three industrial revolutions introduced the power of steam, electricity, and digitization. Each of them required a shift in environmental, social, economic, and political practices. Many of these shifts occur behind the scenes, and some of them were completely unexpected.
So, what is the so-called fourth industrial revolution? It's the effort required to bring together technologies that blur boundary lines between digital, biological, and physical states, specifically their impact on business. Artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, nanotechnology, robotics, and synthetic biology go far beyond the dramatic progress in digital technology over the last six decades. The new science has a profound impact on how we view reality itself. To say this a disruptive impetus is an understatement. Instead, prepare to redefine the basic construct of a business model.
The new economy will prove disruptive and force businesses to rearrange their decision-making processes.
The Future of Work
Automation is one of the areas to expect a sea-level change in the way work is done. More and more manual processes are falling by the wayside every day, and the pace is expected to accelerate in the near future.
One of the important outcomes of the technology revolution is the rise in automation. Every day, more manual processes are automated, and the technology will continue to apply pressure for further automation.
What CEOs and Boards Should Consider
The global labor market will experience this as a shift in supply and demand. Kinsey states that as many as 375 million workers will see a change in job duty or classification by 2030, and digital-based work may account for $2.7 trillion to the global GDP even earlier. In the face of these seemingly unstoppable shifts in demand, employers and recruiters have to face the challenges that accompany workforce transformation. This has to begin with a close look at the effect this will have on the workplace.
Four key areas must be addressed:
Most industries (aerospace, logistics, manufacturing, financial), use 3D printing, robotics, AI, and the internet of things. This places a lot of pressure on other industries to automate their operations to remain relevant in a global landscape. In order to do so, companies must have a solid foundation in the new technologies, and they also have to understand how it impacts their businesses. This is needed to make sure their organization has the agility to change quickly when needed.
Global competition will increase cost pressures, and this may lead to widespread downsizing. As a large portion of the workforce is reassigned, McKinsey estimates around 800 million individuals could be replaced by automation by 2030.
From an economic standpoint, there are four main factors the fuel growth: labor, capital, growth, and enterprise. It’s estimated that today’s world attains just 52 percent of its “entrepreneurial” capability. Surprisingly, studies show that this number is declining each year. Large companies have a big head start when it comes to the future of the workplace. Large enterprises can adapt more quickly to changes in technology. For a sustainable economy, the world has to put energy into supporting entrepreneurs, since small and midsize business drive much of today’s economies.
Technology has a way of changing social values as well. Today, about 36 percent of U.S. workers freelance for flexibility, autonomy, and extra income. Co-working spaces are becoming more common and are typically fully rented before the facilities open their doors. People can work anytime, anywhere. By 2027, half of American workers will become freelancers.
Independent training available online has largely replaced instructor-led training for employment purposes. Students are no longer satisfied with a canned curriculum. Instead, short, skills-based training is paving the way to tomorrow’s orientation and training procedures. Employers are already focusing on the specific skills needed to obtain business objectives. This means that workers need to develop skills on the fly to continue meeting their job responsibilities.
The Future of Work
Despite the challenges that come with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there is also an untold possibility that comes with adopting a mindset of abundance. The new era provides ample opportunities to pick up new skills and obtain one of the many new jobs needed to move the technology forward.
Workers will open up to the idea of new possibilities too, and this will allow them to acquire new talents. Stagnation and complacency can become a thing of the past. But, how do we get there? Collaborations in academia, the private sector, and among policymakers is needed to pave the way for this brave new future.
Schools and universities can work hand-in-hand with business and public interest to adapt flexible course material that focuses on skills rather than route learning. Governments need to become much more dynamic to leverage sound policies, budgets and even laws that do not hinder technological progress.
Every walk of life must become used to a new status quo, were lifelong learning gives everyone an opportunity to impact their roles and responsibilities.
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