What happens when technology moves so fast, our workforce can’t keep up? There are many noteworthy technologies that will change the way our society functions. 5G and Cloud will create new experiences and revenue opportunities for consumers and businesses.
McKinsey estimates, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to deliver global economic activity of around $13 trillion by 2030. And we’ll see even more technologies and business models in areas like Quantum Computing, the gig and sharing economies, and digitization of services. Yet PwC reports 38 percent of CEOs globally are extremely concerned that a lack of critical skills will hurt business growth. What good are these technologies if our workforce is incapable of leveraging them?
What’s Driving Change in the Workforce?
To unleash new experiences and technologies – and support the complex business operations that enable them – businesses worldwide must embark on transformation journeys centered on the Cloud and the agility it brings. Indeed, Gartner predicts the size of the Cloud services industry will expand at nearly three times the growth of overall IT services.
Success, however, is dependent on organizations undergoing a process of change management based on the three pillars of technology, processes, and people: technology is largely focused on continuous improvements to operations through AI and Machine Learning; processes are around governance and ongoing optimization.
People, however, may present the biggest challenge.
The War on Talent and Next-Gen Workforce
In today’s open-source world, I believe it’s not proprietary software or patented methodologies that necessarily count but rather, the quality of the workforce. Reskilling, attracting and retaining talent around new technologies and practices are not just requirements for evolving the business, but additional drivers to proactively transform the business.
Further, by 2025, Millennials will make up 75 percent of the global workforce, and with this comes the desire for better workplace technology, growth opportunities, and workplace flexibility. Creating an environment that caters to this will be critical.
As we move towards a future of technological singularity, where technology’s growth becomes uncontrollable, I believe the best talent, regardless of age, will want to work with automated and intelligent processes and approaches. Key examples include Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) for DevOps best practices, and site reliability engineering (SRE) to improve production-related operations of the applications developed. Companies reliant on legacy practices and siloed organizations will be left behind as the war for talent continues.
The Shift Away From Vertical Skillsets
As the industry aims to move at the pace of technology, employee mindsets too, need to shift rapidly. The question will no longer be what they’re going to do, but how fast they can learn. One of the most essential skills will be the ability to evolve.
In the past, employees typically focused on one vertical (known as an I-shaped skill). However, the next-generation workforce must span numerous verticals, contributing unique insights across areas due to their experience and explorative mindsets (T- and E-shaped skills). And while this means managers must give their direct reports opportunities to expand, it’s just as crucial for employees to take the initiative.
On the other side of the coin, our existing workforce is working longer than ever. This will require them to not only co-exist with newcomers and their exploratory, versatile mindsets but to adapt a continuous learning approach themselves. While for older workers this might be a significant – even painful – effort, as technology evolves, it will be a necessary prerequisite to remaining in the workforce.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”– Albert Einstein
To keep pace in an ever-changing world, continuous learning and investing in the workforce is a must. This mindset must come from all areas of the business. At the same time, empowering employees to expand their skill set is critical. Let’s make sure we all provide our workforces with the right supportive learning environment that enables them to take an active role in creating the future.