The meaning of collaboration has evolved over time. The first email was sent in 1971 and after that, the Internet age completely changed the way we connect and collaborate with each other. Fast forward to today, and we are on the verge of re-defining collaboration between humans and machines. So, what do we do when machines do everything? Ultimately, the answer depends on whether you are a pessimist or an optimist. While it’s true that many types of repetitive jobs will disappear due to automation, a world without work will always be a fantasy. As a result of our fear of losing jobs to automation, we are overlooking the possibility of the human + machine collaboration that has the potential to transform our industries, businesses, workplaces, and jobs. We need to stop looking at humans and machines in contrast to each other and imagine a world of human-machine collaborations, which would be more engaging, fun, and challenging.
We are in an incredible time, when technology is significantly extending the envelope of human capability. While humans are good at the art of the job (judgment, visual cues, emotion/ empathy, ethics, and social context), machines are good at the science of the job (computational capabilities, data analysis, pattern recognition, and next action determination based on all statistical facts). When we combine the strengths of humans with the strengths of machines in a joint environment, magic happens. This human-robot duet perfectly weaves together the art of dance and the science of mechanical engineering. The future of work will be based on how well companies blend and extend the abilities of humans and machines by making them collaborative. Human-machine collaboration is the new hybrid workforce.
So, how can we ensure the transparent communication between humans and machines? How can we translate consumer and employee needs, and business strategies into machine experiences? Who will define roles and responsibilities, and set the rules for how machines and workers should coordinate to accomplish a task? These questions demonstrate the need for a new role that will create augmented hybrid teams to generate better business outcomes through human-machine collaboration. This new role of “Man-Machine Teaming Manager” is highlighted in our new report, 21 Jobs of the Future. The key tasks for this role are to develop an interaction system through which humans and machines mutually communicate their capabilities, goals and intentions, and to devise a task-planning system for human-machine collaboration.
The Man-Machine Teaming Manager will shape the future of work and its various workplaces within companies by turning machines and workers into collaborative “colleagues” in order to reach entirely new performance thresholds. As a teaming manager, you will identify tasks, processes, systems, and experiences that can be upgraded by newly available technologies and you will imagine new approaches, skills, interactions, and constructs. You will design flexible experiences that meet workers’ expectations, while providing a simple and intuitive interaction with machines (translating consumer behavior to business users, as well as to machines, for instance). We have developed an exact job description your HR department will need to fill this new role and advance human-robot cooperation strategies in a dynamic business environment.
In the future workplace, your career potential will no longer be based on your last job title, but instead on your ability to collaborate with machines for the work ahead. At the heart of human-machine collaboration is the simple idea that nearly every person and job, can and must be improved through technology. Whether management likes it or not, leaders who recognize that collaboration is the key to business success will be more desired in the digital workplace. Fostering collaboration is a work skill that will be in great demand in the near future, and your organization must be ready.