Who leads in an automated future?

March 5th 2018

Two of the major trends shaping the workforce of the future are automation and a workforce that no longer retires at 55.

While it's possible to imagine a dystopian future where our entire world is automated, the reality will be much more complex. Leaders of today will set the tone for our automated future.

Here's my six-point plan for avoiding a dystopian disaster.

1. Understand the capabilities of technology: now and in the future

If you don't understand today's technology, you can't possibly hope to understand what's to come. While it's certainly possible to automate some roles, and AI will replace some jobs in knowledge-based sectors, jobs that require real cognition and creative thought will hold out far longer. The challenge for many white collar professionals will be to automate aspects of their jobs that lend themselves to automation (repetitive tasks) and enhance the creative and value-added aspects of their job roles.

2. Examine your organisation for roles that can be automated

One of the most incredible feats Amazon has achieved is the blending of human and machine. While their workplace conditions are not without contention, they've realised that robotic shelves allow more products to be packed into a tighter space, and have made stacking and picking more efficient by automatically bringing empty shelves over to packers or the right products over to pickers. They've arguably developed the most efficient combination of human and robotic skills, but there's no doubt the machines will eventually win here also. Figure out which predictable, repetitive roles (or aspects of job roles) in your organization can be automated… and which areas should be beefed up with human capital.

3. Match skill sets with personality analysis

Some people are born thinking outside of the box. Those are the employees and future leaders who'll shape your organization. Those kinds of personalities will be the most valuable resource in the age of automation. Ensuring they're found and matched with appropriate roles is critical. A key part of preparing for the future is identifying and nurturing your workforce's skill sets and innate personality traits.

4. Understand & define the jobs of the future

What if your traditional workforce could be reduced by 50% in 3-5 years time and you didn't know? What if your competitors did? And, what if there were entirely new job roles such as "AI Trainers" or "Augmented Reality Marketeers", that need be created and staffed for your company to succeed? To truly prepare for tomorrow's leadership roles, you need to start fostering the kinds of people who'll thrive in roles that barely exist today.

5. Matrix today's jobs, skills and personalities with the jobs of the future.

Hit the ground running in your preparations for tomorrow's jobs by figuring out which current roles have transferable skills. Reducing the cost of that skills transfer, both in time and finances will determine whether your business succeeds or fails. To do that, you need to have a grasp on the wide variety of future jobs that are on the near, mid- and longer-term horizon. There are many new jobs that will be enabled by emerging technologies - encompassing a wide range of skills. We'll see new job categories ranging from "Chief Ethics Officers," "Digital Avatar Personality Designers," "Privacy Guardians," "Empathy Trainers," "Robot Repairers," to "Smart Home Handyperson" and many more.

6. Invest in training and reskilling

Now. Automation might feel like it's coming soon, but it's already here and and its adoption is accelerating faster than anyone would have thought. If you invest your time and resources in the people who already know your business the best, then it'll cost you far less in the long term.

It all starts with point #1. Understand what's happening now in technology. Understand the wider implications of tech innovation as a whole and figure out how it can be applied to your industry. What job roles will that require?

Investing in the skills and training required will create a whole new generation of leaders that can navigate the murky waters of automation and AI - and look to you as the visionary who saw it coming.

For further information on Shara Evans or to enquire about making a booking for your next conference or event please contact the friendly ODE team

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