Fujitsu’s EMEIA & Americas CEO, Duncan Tait, outlines the actions business can take to ensure the future is prosperous for everyone.
Rapid technological change is causing shockwaves; we’ve already seen the early implications in business, with industries such as retail disrupted by digital technologies and new market entrants. ]
But critically, there’s a human side to this story, with faith in traditional institutions undermined and skills becoming outdated.
We risk upsetting the balance of people and technology, with serious consequences for business and society. However, there are actions that business and political leaders can take to ensure that technology benefits us all.
We commissioned the report Timeline 2030: Finding our path to prosperity to explore what these developments might look like over the next decade and the interventions required to ensure the future is prosperous for everyone.
Automation presents huge potential for businesses and staff, who can be freed from dull, repetitive tasks to focus on valuable, engaging work. But moving too fast and replacing workers at scale, will see high unemployment and labour unrest.
By taking a responsible approach to automation, with gradual adoption and investment in upskilling, we can protect jobs and create more vibrant working lives.
At Fujitsu, our guiding principle is human-centric innovation: using technology to enhance people’s lives.
We believe in impacting positively on the communities and societies in which we work and addressing the challenges technology presents. This starts with understanding the impact of these technologies on businesses, including our own.
Continuing with the example of automation, we have founded our own European Centre of Excellence for Robotic Process Automation (RPA), applying automation to some of our own services, such as managing IT incidents for our customers. This is freeing staff to focus on more complex and challenging work.
By undergoing the process of automation in our own business, we are gaining insights that we can then share with customers.
Upskilling our employees is also a priority in our company, via schemes such as reverse mentoring, where younger, tech-savvy staff share their skills with older workers.
We want perpetual learning to become central to our company culture, so that all our workers maintain relevant skills as technology progresses.
Through the Timeline 2030 research, we have explored actions needed to ensure positive outcomes over the next decade, and what we, as a responsible business, can do to ensure technology does not leave people behind.
Businesses must recognise their role in this process, and decide to act responsibly, looking ahead to the impact of their decisions over the next decade and seeking to put people first.
Action must be coordinated across businesses, governments and the public sector: while 84% of business leaders would welcome a global response to the challenges of technology, according to our research, three-quarters do not feel international governments are doing enough to plan effectively.
It is only through open collaboration that we can hope to prosper. As technology reshapes the world of work, there are three key skill sets to focus on: STEM skills, creative skills and soft skills.
Technology will be the platform on which public and private services sit, so we must promote digital skills and build intelligent curricula that empower the next generation.
We must equally invest in ‘soft’ skills, to enable us to collaborate, communicate and co-create across businesses. Supporting creativity will be powerful in enabling us to meet challenges that emerge. And we must also make progress in perpetual learning.
Surrounded by digital disruption, the need for new skills and services can appear at any time.
Both organisations and employees must rethink their approach to career paths and skills, embracing the idea of multiple careers, constantly learning and moving roles; it will be vital to upskill continually to remain employable.
Leading in a climate of disruption will involve:
Adopting the right mindset
Although business leaders are aware change is coming, our research suggests that only 28% are altering their business strategy to plan for the impact of technology.
We must explore possibilities, with an openness to new business models and sources of revenue, while accepting the difficulties technology can present. With foresight and planning, technology can be hugely positive. Adopting a mindset that is humble, but fearless, will help leaders to thrive.
Learning to learn and adapt
Skills needed in the workplace will transform over the next decade. Though no one can fully predict how, it will mean changes for many employees – including executives.
What’s crucial is that leaders embrace the need to evolve and change, and you encourage that attitude in your workforce.
Collaboration is a powerful tool in the face of disruptive change. That includes partnerships in and across the business world – bringing together new areas of expertise, to apply technologies in creative ways and create new sources of value.
It also means collaboration across the public and private sectors and between governments and businesses, to address the challenges that technology throws up. By working together, we can find the path to a prosperous future.