Transforming A Digital Workforce As A Practitioner CEO [ARTICLE]

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Seth Adler

Cindy Gallagher digital workforce

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Cindy Gallagher
Liberty Source PBC
In this headlong rush to intelligent automation, there is more opportunity than ever to layer judgment-based, culturally empathetic work on top of process automation. Short-term wins will be achieved in automating those process steps, which are cumbersome, transactional, and error prone. However, the greatest long-term return for any automation endeavor will come from analyzing a process end-to-end and repositioning the human workforce at points where judgment and empathy are required.
Corporate executives are engaging with automation opportunities as a method of controlling cost, improving control and enhancing customer service. The most innovative of these executives are able to harmonize their talent development initiatives with their automation initiatives. They understand the need for a duel transformation strategy; one, which focuses on the digital workforce, and one which cultivates the power of the human mind.

The reality of the digital industrial revolution we’re in right now, isn’t that jobs will be totally lost — it’s that jobs will change. Jobs will change to such a degree that not every individual will be able to adjust on their own. Leaders must take as much care of planning for the future of their human workforce as they are of their digital workforce.

At the most basic level, someone must build and care for the digital workforce. Leveraging automated intelligence, the digital workforce will be able to teach itself to some degree - but only a human can get it to that point. As much as we’d like to believe that the digital workforce never gets sick, it does. When it does get sick, through a virus, a hack, or any other means, the best solution today is for a human to care for it. In a way, the digital workforce needs a healthcare and leadership structure of its own. 

Secondarily, there will always be the need for human-to-human interaction. Cultural, empathetic and judgment-based work still requires human interaction. The digital workforce can’t yet understand empathy. Bots can’t sit across the table from a customer, look in their eyes, understand the customer’s feelings or take note when body language gives clues of something unsaid. And intelligent automation of any kind simply cannot express the level of trust stakeholders demand and deserve. Leaders must help our human workforce understand how to communicate with stakeholders on a new, deeper level.
We have no choice but to embrace the digital transformation happening around us. The changes in our industry are exciting and happening at an exhilarating pace. If leaders slow down, or try to deny it’s happening, they will be left behind. If they try to embrace only the digital transformation and forget about the human transformation that is happening at the same time, they will be left behind.

To truly transform operations, we are required to have both a digital workforce strategy and a human capital strategy. The two must be harmonized with aligned milestones and clear expectations. If done correctly, corporate executives will achieve their goals of cost
reduction, control and customer satisfaction, all while gaining the trust of their team members and their clients.
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