Rapid technological changes are shifting the frontier between the work tasks performed by humans, and those performed by machines and algorithms. As a result, it’s clear that the nature of work, and the workplace itself, is likely to undergo major transformations: some occupations will decline, others will grow, and many more will change.

The World Economic Forum predicts that these changes, “if managed wisely, could lead to a new age of good work, good jobs and improved quality of life for all, but if managed poorly, [they may] pose the risk of widening skills gaps, greater inequality and broader polarisation.” 

In other words: the time to shape the future of work is now. To kick off the discussion on how we can succeed in 2019, here are AVADO’s top five predictions for data and jobs.

1. Adoption of data and technology soars

2018 was a landmark year for data analytics, as interest and adoption in the field accelerated. According to one survey, in 2018, a nearly unanimous 98.6% of executives indicated that their company aspired to a ‘data-driven culture’, up from 85.5% in the 2017 survey. 

The business benefits of investing in data analytics are becoming more obvious too: a recent study revealed that data-driven cultures experience several major financial benefits, including a 15% growth in revenue and operating margin. For a typical Fortune 1000 company, improving data accessibility by just 10% will result in more than $65 million additional net income.

Overall, by 2021, AI augmentation is set to generate $2.9 trillion in business value and recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity, according to Gartner. Whilst organisations still face numerous challenges, we expect adoption to continue to grow in 2019.

2. Automation will disrupt the workforce

According to the World Economic Forumby 2025, machines will perform more current work tasks than humans, compared to 71% being performed by humans today. This means that most employees – from welders to mortgage brokers to CEOs – will work alongside rapidly evolving machines. 

As AVADO’s CEO Mark Creighton notes: “People’s jobs may not disappear – but many will need to change substantially.”  Such a transformation will have a profound effect on the global labour force. According to McKinsey, the outlook is positive: the rapid evolution of machines and algorithms in the workplace could create 133 million new roles in place of 75 million that will be displaced between now and 2022.

However, it is undeniable that some occupations will see significant declines. Automation could displace around 15% of the global workforce, or about 400 million workers, in the period 2016–2030. 

3. The focus on skills intensifies

In order to fully harness the growth opportunities offered by the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, workers will require new sets of skills. In fact, 54% of employees of large companies will need significant re- and up-skilling. 

Areas of focus include both technology proficiency, such as technology design and programming, but also distinctly human skills, such as creativity, critical thinking and persuasion. All industries expect to have sizeable skills gaps, with average skills instability of 42%. This only highlights the scale of the challenge in preparing today’s workers for changes within their current roles and the emerging jobs of the future. 

Just over half of the companies surveyed by the World Economic Forum said they planned to reskill only those employees that are in key roles, while only one third planned to reskill at-risk workers. However, 1 in 5 organizations has already changed its approach to attracting and retaining analytics talent. And 63% of companies are now providing formal or on-the-job training in-house.

AVADO’s experts argue that we need to address the digital skills gap by transforming the way entire organisations approach learning – and data. To do so, we have launched a new Data Academy, which adopts a two-pronged approach: developing data literacy for all, but also upskilling data scientists to be more business-savvy as well.

4. Investing in human capital and change management

Accelerating progress in AI and automation will create opportunities for business, the economy and society. A recent report from Mckinsey suggests that 75% of companies believe organisational agility is a top priority, and nearly 40% are currently conducting an organisational agility transformation.

Research has shown that organisational agility can provide a powerful source of competitive advantage, as they help improve customer satisfaction, productivity and profitability. 

“For businesses to remain dynamic, differentiated and competitive in an age of machines, they must in fact invest in their human capital,” said Saadia Zahid, Head of the Centre for the New Economy and Society at the World Economic Forum. “There is both a moral and economic imperative to do so. Without proactive approaches, businesses and workers may lose out on the economic potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

5. Sharpening focus on societal impact

According to the World Economic Forum, business leaders will need to “master the art of corporate statesmanship,” proactively shaping critical societal issues that will increasingly affect business. 

Not only that: the focus on companies’ Total Societal Impact is starting to sharpen, as business leaders are increasingly urged to ensure that their businesses creates social as well as economic value. Not only can this increase a company’s financial performance in the long run, but it can strengthen the social contract between business and society, ensuring that the relationship is able to endure.

Join the conversation with experts from the world of work

AVADO are proud to be sponsoring the CIPD Middle East People Conference & Awards, which brings together up to 150 people professionals to discuss the future of the people profession. Centered around the theme of ‘HR Now and in the Future: Leading The Change’, the two-day event will address topics such as diversity and inclusion, the future of learning, organisation design and business effectiveness, employee experience and more. If you’re interested in joining the conversation, sign up now.

Interested in learning more about how AVADO can support your digital learning needs? Click here  

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About the CIPD

At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.