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The (near) future of work: Dynamic, adaptive... and with fewer staff

The (near) future of work: Dynamic, adaptive... and with fewer staff

Forrester shares a pragmatic view of the impact of intelligent automation - and why you should start building your 'robotics quotient' now

Intelligent automation will mean job losses — 29 per cent by 2030 with only 13 per cent job creation to compensate

Forrester report on ‘The Future of Work’

Intelligent automation - the tools including AI and robotics - is the next multiplying force that will shape how consumers and workers accomplish daily tasks, reports Forrester.

Forrester says automation will have implications in four main areas related to the future of work:

Jobs: Human-touch workers, cross-domain knowledge workers, teachers/explainers, and digital elite jobs will grow, but single-domain knowledge workers, physical workers, function-specific knowledge workers, location-based workers, coordinators, and cubicle jobs will shrink. 

Forrester says this will mean job losses — 29 per cent by 2030 with only 13 per cent job creation to compensate.

Economic opportunity and disparity: Automation will worsen income disparity, as dividends shift to digital-savvy leaders and negatively impact non-digital workers unable to skill up fast enough, says Forrester.

Global markets: Outsourcing and evolving supply chains have favoured low income economies able to match skill level and capacity to global needs. Forrester notes automation disrupts offshoring and applies additional pressure on economies to build domestic demand that is able to counterbalance changing global demand.

How work is done: Work, says Forrester, will depend on a symbiotic relationship between humans and machine. “This is not a man-led, machine-do structure; instead, it will match leadership, decisioning, and execution tasks across robots and humans that best deliver the desired outcome.”

Source: Forrester
Source: Forrester

In the not so distant future

Automation’s impact to the future of work will be both sweeping and sensible, but these changes can place unprepared leaders on their heels or put companies in peril. 

“Move too slow, and risk acute competitive risk; move too fast, and create operational complexity that weighs down the organization and confuses (or disenfranchises) customers,” notes Forrester.

Whatever happens, Forrester says automation gaps will create the next level of technical debt, where companies can’t or are slow to reap the expected benefits.

In its report on The Future of Work, Forrester shares some steps organisations can do today to prepare for the changes ahead.

First is for organisations to start managing their automation portfolio. 

Forrester says most organisations are already managing a portfolio of intelligent technologies that affect the way the enterprise works, “albeit in small, surgical ways”.

“Automation will be placed in different parts of the operation with different risk/reward profiles,” it states. “Those in the back office will pay margin expansion dividends with moderate market risk; those in the front end can pay significant customer experience gains but with acute risk.”

Build your robotics quotient - how well you can work with and sometimes for, robots

Leaders must manage the growing portfolio holistically and to balance the risks and rewards, says Forrester. Special attention should be given to automation that touches customers and can lead to  unintentional and uncontrollable customer and brand risk. 

Another approach is to build robotics quotient (RQ). This refers to how well humans can work with and sometimes for, robots that will play a more sizeable impact in daily work life.

Leaders are also urged to build a “learning organisation”.

“We are past the days of classic change management where the goal was to move a human or team from point A to point B,” says Forrester. “Going forward, change will be constant, meaning there is no point B. 

“An employee’s ability (and, in some ways, desire) to learn will be a differentiating competency for firms — moving learning from a tactical hygiene to an economic engine.”

Individual employees also need to be proactive in responding to these changes.

“As much as companies must become learning institutions, so must employees become learners,” advises Forrester. 

This means they must learn core skills, adapt to new working models and understand what it means to be ready and fit for the future, as they maximise their robotics quotient.

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Tags skills shortageproductivityroboticsAIfuture of workdigital disruptiondigital inclusionlifelong learningRPAinclusioncontinuous learningleadershipdiversityjobs loss

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