Did you know? 35 percent of all jobs will be automated by 2025 and clerical jobs are the most at risk. These were the findings of a recent study by Accenture. Kalpana Narotham, Organisational Change Lead for Accenture Africa explained further at Regenesys.
Accenture’s research has identified four dominant features of work in the digital economy:
1. Digital and human – Accenture’s recent global survey was conducted on more than 1,000 companies to understand how they use or plan to use AI. It identified three new types of employment that require collaboration between humans and machines: explainers who understand and interpret the output of AI algorithms, sustainers who optimise the effectiveness of AI systems and trainers who feed AI systems’ capacity for language, empathy and judgment.
2. Cooperative and collaborative – Cooperation is needed as working with others is for mutual benefit, while collaboration is a deeper communal effort towards a shared goal. New digital technologies are changing how people do both.
3. Knowledge and task-based – Accenture’s report found that 79 percent of business leaders across industries believe that the future workforce will be structured by projects, rather than by job function.
4. Flexible and fluid – Technology is uncoupling work from finite hours and locations. Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork, indicates that the majority of the US workforce will freelance by 2027 with younger workers leading the way.
Ms Narotham said that the current business landscape is in danger and that, “We need a mindset of learning and a mindset of digital.” An ostrich-like mentality of hoping that this change will take time to come to Africa won’t help – “The time to act is now.”
Asked if cost will determine the speedy implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) – she told of a case study, which saw two IT experts paid for three weeks of work to implement a system to reduce the overall working time for data input. It reduced the time from two days to six hours.
According to Ms Narotham, future high costs would be in the upskilling of existing workers to prevent job losses. This requires forward-thinking CEOS and modern companies.
Government will need to be at the forefront of creating opportunities for citizens to access digital technologies across areas such as infrastructure, connectivity, skills, incentives, policy frameworks and regulation. It must also set policy to regulate action across areas where the digital revolution is likely to have the most impact. Key areas will include “eCommerce, cybersecurity, digital healthcare, the creation of a digital society, driving the acquisition of digital skills, and service provision,” according to the report.
Large corporates have vital roles to play in this. While preparing their organisations to take advantage of the benefits of digital technologies, businesses can use technology to enhance growth beyond achieving efficiencies. Corporates can allay fears of job losses by committing to:
* Creating job alternatives through re-skilling initiatives
* Communicating transparently and honestly and engaging with employees and other stakeholders
* Taking all impacted parties along on the journey .