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The Future Workforce: Disruption or Destruction?

Over the past 2 years, we have witnessed an acceleration of technological advances.  Many of which have focused on automation, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, machine learning, robotics, etc.

These advances are clearly illustrating how technology innovation can compete with or beat our current workforce at both task oriented and subjective activities.

As organizations are contemplating their future and digital transformation approach, they are weighing their options to determine where they should place their bet to achieve the best value. Will this value be obtained through a Human Workforce, Machine Workforce, or a Hybrid Workforce.

The question on everyone's mind is, will the future workforce be disrupted or destroyed?
To set the ground work, let's define the difference between disruption and destruction.

According to Dictionary.com:

  • Disruption = a "radical shift"

  • Destruction = "the condition of being destroyed; demolition; annihilation."

In short, there are no facts that illustrate a total destruction of the human workforce. However, does this mean that certain roles or jobs will become obsolete or replaced with technology, yes.

There is plenty of research to show a disruption in the workforce is coming. The primary cause of this disruption is based on how organizations are shifting their business model and strategies to define new ways of doing business be increase their competitive advantage, i.e. mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, new products, services, etc.

In reality, how much and where will we experience these impacts? According to the McKinsey Global Institute, "A future that Works: Automation, Employment, and Productivity, January 2017", below are a few of the research observations:

  • < 5% of occupations consist of activities that are 100% automated.

  • 60% of all occupations have at least 30 percent of basic activities that could be automated.

  • 50% the activities people are paid to do (almost $15 trillion in wages in the global economy) have the potential to be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technology.

With these changes, we have witnessed an introduction of the next generation workforce where machines are being introduced to manage predictable, repeatable, and data processing/collection tasks. Whereas, new human opportunities are being created that require greater collaboration, expertise, and leadership capabilities.

However, the question still remains, how close are Human and Artificial Intelligence capabilities becoming?

The intelligent age is here, how we embrace it is our own choice. However, based on research conducted by KPMG in 2017, "HR Transformation: Which Lens are you using, the main global drivers. "65% of organization view this disruption as an opportunity rather and a threat."

As you contemplate on how you and your organization will adopt this shift, consider the following:

1. Be Ready: Disruption is coming whether you want it or not!!!

2. Be Proactive: Define your future, don't react to it!!!!

3. Be Mindful: Change impacts everyone differently!!!!

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