Industry 4.0: Future of workforce and rise of HumBots at workplace

Published: July 30, 2019 5:47:03 PM

Intelligent machines have forced organizations to ask fundamental questions about the workplace like where the work is getting done, and how can we maximize collaboration, productivity and consistency across the workforce experience.

Hinrich Foundation, AIMA, ReportCurbs on free flow of data will severely impact India’s digital trade potential.

By Rakesh Barik

We are seeing major shifts impacting the future of the workforce. The gig economy, niche start-ups, robotics and cognitive technologies are changing the structure of how talent/labour/skill is accessed by companies, and organizations are moving to include sources of talent beyond those on the balance sheet. The nature of jobs and work itself is changing at the same time robotics and cognitive technology are creating a world where organizations will be defined by their ecosystem of employees on payroll collaborating with robots and learning machines, research scholars of universities, niche start-ups as partners and open-talent market etc. The future is about co-existence and interplay of all these forces in harmony.

It’s important to note that the augmented workforce isn’t necessarily displacing the human workforce—virtual workers are taking on tasks that free up humans to focus on higher-level work that requires more critical thinking and empathic problem-solving abilities, social skills, and emotional intelligence.

How the age of intelligent machines is impacting workplace

Intelligent machines have forced organizations to ask fundamental questions about the workplace like where the work is getting done, and how can we maximize collaboration, productivity and consistency across the workforce experience.

The age of the intelligent machine has opened up a plethora of opportunities for business. Lots of unexplored territories and huge domain of application is now a reality due to revolution of technology, strategy and cognitive ability creating a demand for digital workforce.

Currently many CEOs believe that their company is facing disruptive change driven by intelligent machines and digital technologies while their organization may not have the skill to adapt. Currently huge increase of adoption of bots have increased the efficiency and helped the current organization to take a leap towards the age of digital workforce.

An augmented workforce is the future of work, where human and machine collaborate together. This will have many implications to consider; how does this impact the talent model? And, what is the future of HR when there’s no H in HR (e.g., machines, virtual agents, virtual engineers doing work for us); for the silicon-based workforce: how do we manage performance, benefits, and incentives of virtual workers? And, how do we hire, fire, and promote them? For the carbon-based workforce: How do we manage cultural challenges to prepare the workforce, retrain people to work in those environments, etc.?

Is workforce ready for Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is a revolution of digital and physical technologies giving rise to vast possibilities and executives and organization are bracing the challenge of workforce readiness for Industry 4.0 by creating a culture of learning and collaboration and creating training opportunities-both within the organization as well as in underserved communities.

We believe executives around the world are in the early stages of readying their organizations to harness the full potential of Industry 4.0. As organizations adapt to Industry 4.0, there are opportunities to strengthen key connections that will benefit their clients, their people, their organizations, their communities and society more broadly along social impact, strategy, technology and talent.

Transforming leadership in a digital world with the help of new-age technology

Digital is our future, but it is also our present. The explosion of connectivity, data, ease of use, computing power, accessibility, and rapid innovation have made technology as important as food, water, and shelter in society.

Business leaders are grappling with this unprecedented change. Growing connectivity, competition and consumer power, “disrupt others before you are disrupted” – means new engagements, new products, new business models, organizations, and ecosystems. It’s imperative that business leaders shape their organization ambition through insights, innovation and strategy, plus most importantly there is a need for activating digital mindsets.

Today, many organizations need a completely different kind of leader: a “digital leader” who can build teams, keep people connected and engaged, and drive a culture of innovation, risk tolerance, and continuous improvement. Research on digital leadership shows a shift in leadership capabilities in three areas: how leaders must think, how leaders must act, and how leaders must react to succeed in the digital world.

Most organizations will need a combination of digital iInvestors who will invest in talent and ideas, digital pioneers who can reimagine the future, shape new and different business models, along with digital transformers who can manage people through radical change and transform the business.

In this world “FAIL FIRST” is the mantra. Be ready to unlearn and challenge, don’t hesitate to experiment and innovate, be real, involved and reflect, take ownership of your journey, question the current assumption, test and iterate until you prove it right (or wrong).

Growing importance of Artificial Intelligence, cognitive technologies, and Block-chain in organizations

Our world today is being driven by few key foundational forces like digital, social, mobile, cloud and analytics. Many companies competing in markets that are being turned upside down by technology innovation. Today, digital reality, artificial intelligence, cognitive, and blockchain—stars of the enterprise technology realm—are redefining IT, business, and society in general. Business climate driven by powerful digital forces, disruption, and rapid-fire innovation now transform organizations to be a technology company. Technology is pervasive, and it will be correct to say that every company is now a technology company.

With people, machines, data and processes becoming increasingly connected, these emerging technologies are fundamentally transforming the way we interact with the world. Businesses are trying to harness the power of data through these to understand and service customer needs better – both external as well as internal. Leaders have realized that the importance of these technologies is not just in exploring new opportunities, but it also has the power to disrupt business and industry.

We are in an era of disruption and simplification. Enterprises are becoming lean, focused around innovation and willing to disrupt their business. The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. Leading organizations are using enabling technologies like cloud, artificial intelligence, IOT, VR and robotics to disrupt their thinking and transform operations. Government agencies and commercial enterprises those are able to harness the possibilities of these technologies will be better positioned to shape the future of their organizations.

How AI is revolutionizing businesses

AI has begun to have transformational impact on various industries such as finance, health care, transportation, and smart cities that have altered decision making, business models, risk mitigation, and system performance.

AI can increase productivity, strengthen regulatory compliance through automation, and help organizations derive meaning from ever-larger data sets. AI today is the core engine for many organizations for enhancing current products, optimizing internal and external operations, bringing efficiency and reduce error, make informed and better decisions and free up workers for more value-added creative work and increase productivity. For some organizations, harnessing AI’s full potential begins tentatively with explorations of select enterprise opportunities and a few potential use cases. While testing the waters this way may deliver valuable insights, it likely won’t be enough to make the company a market maker.

To become a true AI-fueled organization, a company may need to fundamentally rethink the way humans and machines interact within working environments. Executives should also consider deploying machine learning and other cognitive tools systematically across every core business process and enterprise operation to support data driven decision-making. Likewise, AI could drive new offerings and business models. These are not minor steps, but as AI technologies standardize rapidly across industries, becoming an AI-fueled organization will likely be more than a strategy for success—it could be table stakes for survival.

The author is Partner, Deloitte India

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