As we go about our daily busy lives, it’s easy to lose sight that we are in midst of a digital revolution. We take for granted what we are now doing through technology. Using smart phones for Uber, tracking our daily activity through wearable devices, or speaking to an Amazon Echo are examples. It is incredible how fast technology has evolved. Yet, we are only in the infant stages of the digital revolution.
The digital revolution brings about great opportunities for business. This is particularly true for services using IoT (internet of things), Big Data, and Cloud based technologies. Expect that you will see an increase in AI (article intelligence), automation, and robots. Self driving cars, unmanned aircrafts, and smart devices have become a reality.
This advance in digital technology has left many in fear of losing jobs to robots, and for good reason. In a recent study done by the Korn Ferry Institute, 67 percent of executives said they would value technology more than people when looking at the next five years. The idea is that workers will be unnecessary due to robotics, automation and AI.
While there is no doubt that technology will replace many manual jobs, here’s the good news. Human capital will still hold the greatest value. Why? The main reason is that humans continue to gain knowledge and experience over time. In a sense, they appreciate in ways that machines cannot.
It is my position that as the world becomes more digital, we will see a greater demand for human capital. It’s ironic but the advance in technology will provide a need for human connections. This means people will need skills based on strong emotional and social intelligence. This also holds true for technical leadership and project management positions.
Executives then need to value both human capital and technology. They need to find the right balance between the two. It would be a mistake to go all in on technology and lose sight of human capital importance. It seems most CEOs currently don’t grasp this. As CEOs face intense pressure to increase organizational performance, they focus on what they can measure. Robotics and automation give CEOs the comfort of figures and metrics that help them make projections about the future.
These metrics and data driven forecasts leave CEOs with a blind spot. What they don’t see, or can’t measure, are the human factors effect on performance. “Actually, the most important figures that one needs for management are unknown or unknowable, but successful management must nevertheless take account of them.” (Lloyd S. Nelson)
You can’t measure the positive effect of a warm and empathic interaction between a customer and an employee. The convenience and performance of machines could never replace our core need for social interaction.
So as you plan your strategy during this time of digital revolution, tap into what you already understand. People are the most valuable assets within an organization.
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