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Discover The Future of Work

The first act of digital (pre-COVID-19) was all about companies applying digital technologies to existing products, processes, and experiences. While some companies digitized their processes and services at pace, others lagged behind. Traditional businesses could get away with citing industry regulations as the key reason for their slow transformation, with no internal urgency to become digital to the core. The pandemic changed everything, forcing firms to explode out of their comfort zones and respond by accelerating their digital initiatives, slashing their digital journey time from years to days and weeks, and giving us an unprecedented insight into global businesses’ digital future.

It would be foolhardy to assume that businesses will ever go back to the old ways of working. Customers, employees, and the way business value is created have changed forever. With the immediate response to the pandemic behind us as we settle into the ‘new normal’, the second phase of digital will be characterized by the blend of AI, automation, analytics, and IoT. Used in combination, these technologies will help businesses work more efficiently by providing customers with new ways to interact and transact, whilst also connecting front-ends with streamlined back-end processes, and producing intelligence for decision-making and personalization far quicker than human workers ever could. To master the second act of digital, companies will need to augment their business. They can do this by implementing the four following mechanisms:

  • Reinvent processes: In the post-COVID-19 era, “digital” means more than just applying technology to business processes; it means reinventing business operations to speed up decision-making, data-driven insights, and time-to-market. Augmenting a process starts with finding and addressing the specific pain points that can be relieved and liberated with digital technologies. What does frustrates customers while dealing with your firm? Is it phone wait times for customer care or cumbersome insurance claim filing processes? Fintech start-ups are very good at reducing the pain points. They can process loans, which might take banks weeks, in minutes. When businesses identify the pressure points and apply digital solutions in targeted ways, small changes can spark big results.

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  • Rethink work: With augmented processes, organizations will have to espouse the idea of modern work supported by machines and driven by human workers. Machines will take on a greater portion of the labor involved in executing various data-oriented tasks in the future. For instance, leveraging data for complex decisions through sifting large data sets for actionable insights. When intelligent machines take on the work of collecting, managing, and analyzing data, the self-learning algorithms that drive them can learn much faster and generate valuable insights, helping businesses lower costs, improve productivity, and offer more targeted products and services to customers. Companies must deconstruct jobs and identify which tasks are best performed by humans, and which are best performed by machines. As machines take on more data-driven tasks, work will become faster and smarter.
  • Reimagine skills: Increasingly, the human role will become more focused on what’s done with data-driven insights, which will require a renewed focus on decision-making, innovation, and strategic thinking and learning. These skills are best performed by humans – not in isolation, but supported by insights generated by AI and data analytics, and by the efficiencies of intelligent automation. Doing so will free up human workers to focus on these higher-level activities while also learning what it takes to become better humans and collaborate effectively with machines.
  • Restructure teams: As AI and automation take over more repetitive tasks, work demand will change team structures. Rather than larger hierarchical team structures, smaller teams that allow individuals and teams to become more fluid and flexible across roles and functions will emerge and thrive. Agile organizations emulate the speed, dynamism and customer centricity that distinguish digitally native competitors, which can pivot as quickly as customer needs do. For example, instead of concentrating technology professionals in a centralized IT department, leaders will embed software designers and engineers in independent teams, where they can be quickly deployed on high-priority goals. Expect to see multidisciplinary teams emerge across functional departments.

Businesses are now entering a new and exciting phase in their relationship with technology. A more measured appreciation of technology’s potential impact on work and society is key to unlocking and leveraging the benefits of this phase. By meeting the greater ambitions of enabling human-machine work, businesses can showcase exactly how the future of work will unfold, and lead the second act of the digital economy. Is your business ready for the new phase? Set your future (Star Trek) phasers to ‘stunning’ as you boldly go where no post-pandemic industry has gone before.

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