Carbon-Based Talent in an Automated Future
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Delphine Bernard on the future of your enterprise being based on your best carbon-based talent
In order to talk about the impact humans have on automation, we must first talk about the impact technology has on humans. The speed of the environment we live in today and the volume of information available to us has shaped the way the world—and the workplace—runs.
Information access is abundant and the rapid pace at which that information is available to us brings with it a new era of constant connectivity. A whopping 80% of smartphone users check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up. We check our phones during meals, we are constantly accessible, and overall– we’re okay with that.
Speed and volume are also the two key components that have shifted the workforce into a space that relies on new technology such as robotic process automation (RPA). But running automation with AI doesn’t mean human talent is obsolete. In fact, the right talent is more integral to a business’s success than ever.
Shaping and guiding automation
Gone are the days of education, training, and filling a job description. With how fast systems evolve, an employee must no longer just do their job—they must invent it. They must be able to take a bird’s eye view of the work environment and see where adaptations, changes, and new technology should be deployed. With an increase in data comes an increase in the need to crunch that data. Numbers are only as relevant as the job they do, and those jobs rely on the imagination and creation of humans.
Silos and specialists are being replaced with a workforce that is versatile and fluid. It is expected that an employee be part developer, and employees must be trained in this manner. For example, more financial experts are learning Python to ensure the powerful data analysis that the coding language is capable of follows the right path. The workforce must be trained on Six Sigma, which is a process improvement method that aims for near perfect outputs. In order to see the forest through the trees, an employee must understand and work with the entire ecosystem. In other words, former specialists must speak the coding language to be able to leverage the power it holds. Automation isn’t truly automatic. Humans are still the Oz behind the curtain and must shape and guide the automation.
Resilient change management
Speed and volume explain why there is less and less room for specialists in the workforce today. Before, everyone had their own function. There were program managers, financial advisors, and data scientists. Now, all of those things must exist in one person in order to keep up.
What we are asking of the workforce is to be incredibly resilient through change management– a practice that ensures the evolution of people with the brand. Implementing innovative technologies will never be successful if the human element is left out of the equation. It takes insight as a leader to prepare the workforce for tomorrow in a way where the only constant they expect is change. It is essential, then, to frame a strategy around the people—not the technology. Jennifer Morgan, the president of SAP who offers software solutions to manage business operations and customer relations, says this: “Focus on the people, and the numbers will follow.”
Digital culture, analog talent
Recruiting has evolved to reflect this change. Recruiters are now focused on and testing a person’s flexibility and resilience. These soft skills are more in demand and more necessary than simply having concrete expertise in Excel.
Technology has essentially erased workplace borders, and corporations run as truly global entities. This means the human element must not only be adaptive, but diverse as well. The artistry lies in the ability to take a diverse, global workforce and cultivate a workplace culture of inclusivity and belonging. 'The ask' corporations are making of their respective workforces is higher than ever before, and it must be offset by a corporate culture that centers around the talent that can meet such deliverables. In a day and age where corporations can’t afford to stand still, they must invest in the boots—or running shoes—on the ground who keep moving forward.