What impact will the fourth industrial revolution have on talent?
The desire to use technology to achieve innovation and genuine change, rather than incremental improvements, will need to be embedded within organisations. Innovation is key here. The use of technology in sectors such as education and healthcare will hopefully make high-quality learning and medical services available to everyone at affordable prices. That will be the best impact of technology – achieving a greater good.
How do we ensure data works for us, rather than against us?
The biggest risk we face is errors in how data is analysed and the subsequent insights drawn from it. Machines can do analysis better than humans can, but we need to be very clear about what we are programming them to do, since one erroneous analysis or mistake can influence decisions that turn out to be poor.
Currently, proficiency in data analytics is a specialised skill that few employees have; however, very soon we will need all employees to have the skills to work with data. Putting data analysis into context will still require a strong human intervention.
How can we ensure our employees continue to grow?
Some skills will become less important, such as the manual crunching of complex data (machines can do it better, faster, cheaper) and many other labour intensive skills; essentially this means any repetitive task around data and information. However, there are multiple skills that will need to evolve. Decision-making skills will continue to be important, but the ability to make decisions as a result of trusting data analytics provided via artificial intelligence will become vital.
Likewise, communication and collaboration skills will continue to be important, but communicating in a virtual environment, liaising with a short-duration project team, will be a new skill that is required.
Who is already doing this successfully?
One thing that caught my attention was some firms have made it mandatory to have 30% of attendees in any brainstorming or planning meeting aged under 30. It adds a tech-savvy perspective to challenge new thinking. If key meetings do not have people who think and breathe technology, firms will struggle to develop products and solutions for tomorrow.
In future, work will be more modular, and more networked, diverse teams will come together for a short period to do a task and then move on. The positive part is that they will be doing more ‘meaningful’ work.
How is the region placed to deal with this?
The Middle East can be at the forefront of the future of work. It has been a talent magnet and can emerge as a hub, building a futuristic way of working, involving meaningful use of artificial intelligence and developing best-in-class talent. The key enabler of this may be making futuristic technology a part of education. In most parts of the world, education systems still lag behind on this.
What excites you most about the future of work?
A constant need for learning. My advice is to stop hiring people who cannot work with technology and data. It will be a fundamental skill everyone must possess. If you have employees without this skill, identify them and train them.