By Mohammed Amin
Technology evolution is not slowing down. While many organisations are struggling to keep up, significant changes in the workplace are beginning to take place today and professionals are feeling the impact. Automation, VR, AR, you name it, it’s happening.
With rapid developments across science, technology engineering and communication, technology has brought upon a new Industrial Revolution, or “second machine age,” that will greatly influence jobs across sectors, as well as roles within the home.
The rise of advanced tools and skills leaves many unanswered questions for the future; however, it’s clear five major changes are bound to impact the future of work.
1. Robots, do you take lunch breaks?
Robots have performed manufacturing activities that humans don’t want to do or shouldn’t do for decades. From repetitive tasks or jobs that do not require unique cognitive skills or emotional intelligence, replacing human workers with intelligent machines can enable a company to become more productive as believed by 61% of businesses in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Another bonus: the elimination of the lunch break. Beyond the fears of intelligent machine growth as a job killer, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and automation will enhance the coordination of resources and on-demand learning, which will reset work structures for manufacturing and more.
AI-powered machines have an enhanced ability to make basic decisions, learn from experiences and share that learning with other AI programs. This will enable people to rely on them more heavily, while streamlining and improving processes and everyday tasks, while also enabling a mutually beneficial relationship. Unlike humans, robots do not provide emotional intelligence; and thus, humans will remain as critical partners working alongside advanced algorithms.
A recent survey of over 3,000 global business executives worldwide, conducted jointly by MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group, revealed that out of the respondents from the Middle East, 60% consider AI to be only an opportunity, not a risk, for their business and 23% believe AI already has a large impact on their organisation.
This also reflects in our Realising 2030: A Divided Vision of the Future study, as per which 87% of businesses in the UAE and Saudi Arabia state that in the next 5 years, they expect humans and machines to work as an integrated team within the organisation.
2. Gig or fib?
Contract workers, freelancers, ride-share drivers and other alternative work arrangements – otherwise known as the “gig economy” – account for a significant amount of employment growth regionally. While the gig economy becomes more pervasive, the gigs will change. Take autonomous cars for example.
Well-known ride sharing companies have invested heavily in the development of driverless cars. While there are early signs of technology leaning this way and the impact may not be evident for some time, you can very well envision a time where autonomous cars will replace “gig” drivers, and humans will have to come to terms with what this means for the future of their various professional endeavors.
However, with a change in the gig economy also comes new opportunity. Around 85 percent of the jobs that today’s population will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet, according to our research.
3. Visualise your work in real-time
Businesses are looking to VR and AR to enhance training, collaboration and much more. On-demand access to AR learning resources will reset expectations and practices around workplace training and real-time decision-making will be supported by easy access to information.
VR-enabled simulations will immerse people in alternative experiences and places, creating empathy and empowering a blend of physical and virtual worlds. For example, Nike, Meta and Dell are partnering to use VR, AR, voice control, a digital canvas and haptic technology to allow designers to create their vision in more natural ways.
OEMs are investing heavily in innovation on the content creation side, consumption of the content for gaming, entertainment and work and service and support, to be able to take advantage of what VR and AR have to offer.
4. Up in the clouds
Whether it’s public, private or hybrid cloud, organisations are relying on it and it’s expected to grow. Chitale Dairy, a dairy farming business in India, recently launch a ‘cow to cloud’ initiative to tag and capture data through AI and IoT to alert farmers when they need to change the cows’ diet, arrange vaccinations, etc.
The cloud is the most agile method for enterprise companies, like Chitale Dairy, to benefit in terms of efficiency and profitability, but also the customers in the end.
Organisations must train their employees to master the cloud, and in turn, companies will experience strong benefits when it comes to simplifying their tasks, saving time and focusing efforts on strategic areas of their businesses to maximise revenues.
5. Clear the bias
Human-machine partnerships will enable people to find and act on information without the interference of emotions or bias, potentially eliminating stereotypes. Machine learning will increase a person’s ability to evaluate an employee prospect and identify optimal talent or even a worker’s aptitude for gaining new knowledge or learning new skills without personal judgment.
Both hiring processes and daily tasks will experience significant improvements as prospects and employees are viewed solely for their skills, and biases are removed from the equation.
Keeping a pulse on these imminent changes today will prepare both employee and employer for what’s to come in the next 15 years and beyond. While challenges and hurdles may arise, humans must act now on technology’s impact on the future by maximizing these relationships now.
Mohammed Amin is the Senior Vice President, Middle East, Turkey & Africa at Dell Technologies.