The digital future of work is more about humans than machines, claims study

future of workThe claims that robots will render the human species redundant are largely exaggerated suggests a new report from Cognizant’s Centre for the Future of Work and the Economist Intelligence Unit. But we will have to find a new path and it may be one that emphasises human strengths and characteristics working alongside robots. The study of 420 managers in Europe and the US explores the future of the workplace in an increasingly automated world and suggest we will also see the emergence of new jobs involved in the design of augmented reality and avatars as well as a generally greater emphasis on robot-human partnerships in an increasingly digital world. The study claims, unsurprisingly, that the reliance on physical office space will recede, forcing businesses to employ intelligent workplaces which will monitor workers’ environment, needs and even moods.

Key findings from the study include:

Digital investments are catalysing innovation but skills are in short supply

There is now a clear imperative for companies to add the digital skills that will counter stodgy innovation cycles that can jeopardise their survival. The vast majority of executives who answered the survey (94 percent) cite a “moderate” or “severe” digital skills gap that prevents their organisations from reaching their digital future. Many teams are under-resourced for key skills, and the situation is set to get worse.

Talent shortfalls will drive the digital gig economy

This dearth of digital-literate talent will drive more distributed work over the next three years.

Linking platforms to “talent clusters” drives innovation

Companies are starting to build proprietary platforms and driving third parties to engage in co-innovation initiatives around R&D or customer engagement. The report charts the global explosion of talent clusters — collections of entrepreneurial activity coalescing in one location and another — that offer “hot” digital technologies and capabilities that can speed innovation or deliver game changing impact.

Future performance requires a bold digital reorganisation

Rigid approaches to organizational management is giving way to more fluid, connected and nuanced organisations. Silos are being broken to improve knowledge flows and redraw organizational power structures. Many companies are starting to junk old and rigid organisational models and building smaller, nimbler clusters of talent that serve a particular market or niche.

The workforce of the future needs a new rules engine to work

Analytics, algorithms, big data and automation dramatically enhance innovation, productivity and decision-making, but they will also automate and abolish rote tasks previously performed by humans. The report claims that more back-office work will be handed over to software tools as new human-plus-machine workflows become the business norm.

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