Digital Workforce: Roadmap to Successful Outcomes

This blog is authored by Mr. Mohit Thukral, Senior Vice President and Global Business Leader at GENPACT. Listen to him at NASSCOM BPM Strategy Summit 2017  

As we stand at the threshold of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, we look out at a wave of complete technological renaissance rushing towards us. Are we at a point where science fiction is turning to reality? The pace of innovation around us indicates a definite yes that many impossible will soon become possible. With internet penetration reaching over 90% of population by 2025, and storage practically becoming free, access to internet will become a basic human right. This revolution is set to change us to our core, from how we function, interact with each other to the careers that will define us.


We are testing self-driven cars today that fully debunk previous beliefs that machines cannot perform tasks that require judgement and instinct. Intuition and experience, considered exclusive to humans are now being used by machines to function. A World Economic Forum worldwide survey finds that the first AI machine is expected to be on the board of directors of a business by 2025! By 2020, over one-third of skills (35%) that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed and in 20 years 65% of jobs will be absolutely new that we do not even know of today. Some jobs will disappear, others will grow and jobs that don’t even exist today will become commonplace. But these changes do not make human skills redundant; on the contrary they make them more relevant than ever. What is required is for the future workforce to align its skillset to keep pace.


The $150 Billion outsourcing industry in India too is facing a huge skill gap in effectively supporting clients in this new environment. It is estimated that the sector which employs nearly five million, will need reskilling of 40% of the total workforce to be reskilled by 2020.


Some of the game changing technologies that need to be skilled for immediately, as they will be prevalent by 2020, include IoT, 3D Printing & Digitization of Matter, Blockchain, Digital Health, Wearable Internet, Big Data, Advanced robotics & autonomous transport, Virtual & Augmented Reality, Artificial intelligence and machine learning. Along with the technologies the key is to focus on inculcating the skills of persuasion, conflict resolution, complex perception, social and creative intelligence, as they are not likely to be substituted by machines, at least over the next two decades. In fact creativity and emotional intelligence will become the top skills workers will need, as they are going to have to become more creative in order to benefit from the avalanche of changes expected.


Continuous learning will be the hallmark of the future, as workers will need to take on complex, less automatable tasks and be capable of adapting continuously as technologies evolve. However, most organizations are currently preparing at a very slow pace to the reskilling needs. The main reasons for this include insufficient understanding of disruptive changes, resource constraints, short term profitability focus, shareholder pressures, insufficient priority by top management and workforce strategy not being aligned to innovation strategy. But action is needed now. Organizations need to act with immediate focus on reinventing HR functions, making use of data analytics for workforce planning and leveraging flexible working arrangements and online talent platforms.  In the long term they also need to focus on rethinking education systems, incentivizing lifelong learning and Cross-industry and multi-sector collaborations (rather than competition). In India alone 1 Million people will enter the job market every month; organizations, policy makers and educational institutions need to collaborate to make sure that everyone can participate and learn new skills.


The future is arriving faster than we anticipate. We need to prepare our workforce and lead the change by becoming architects of this future.  As this change won’t wait for us, business leaders, educators and governments all need to be proactive in up-skilling and retraining people so everyone can benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It is one of the most stimulating times for work as we head towards an age of incredible creativity and originality. The skills for working and learning are converging and we need to stay on top of this curve.


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