Digital Economy | People first then Technology
November 17, 2017 – “Robots taking our jobs, IoT, AI, Nano technology, Digital economy… key technology disruptors already occupy much of the labor workforce”. Most of you have probably read a statement similarly like this before.
Although it is true that Automatons (e.g. steered by AIs) will replace certain workforces, not all industries will be affected equally. Big revolutions come with its costs, the danger of being stripped of your job is one that comes with technology and part of the digital economy.
In technology revolution, businesses immerse themselves with the challenges of a digital economy. According to Accenture, the global digital economy is predicted to be at 25% by 2020, an increase from 22% in 2015 and 15% in 2005.
And despite the fact that 86% of 3’100 IT and business executives anticipate a rapid change in the increased pace of technology and race for digital economy and culture, it is key to digital success to nurture the people and culture in parallel to the implementation of new technologies. Only with the consideration to the human aspect of the business can a digital economy be successfully created.
With this vision in mind, Accenture Technology Vision 2016 comprised five emerging technology trends forming a solid landscape for a digital economy and culture. With “People First” embodied in all of them, the report acknowledges that to succeed in today’s digital world, businesses need to empower people to accomplish more with technology rather than to compete consuming the most or replace the most humans with technology.
1. Intelligent automation
A great and varied amount of data can be gathered and processed by the AI within seconds and tasks impossible for humans to accomplished will look like child’s play in the hands of an intelligent automation. This can provide solutions to business processes and create new functions for the people altogether.
For example, Siemens has automated some of its product lines at their “lights out” manufacturing plant where they can run unsupervised for several weeks, although it seems like a complete conversion from human to machine, this plant still requires 1’150 employees to maintain it. Employees just have different roles like monitoring and programming.
2. Liquid workforce
Technological advancements come with new tools that can be used to enhance the effectiveness of operations. Sometimes overlooked, but undoubtedly important in the aspect of using new tools and technology in a digital ecosystem, are the users and the people involved in the process. Leaders need to look at technology as a catalyst to transform their people and their whole organization into a highly flexible structure. This can be achieved by; making training a core competency, become more project oriented and agile, empower collaboration and new ideas, manage a distributed workforce, create an organization that is built to facilitate, not impede.
3. Platform economy
A company embracing the power of platforms can create their own digital ecosystem with interconnected networks consisting of; Developers, Publishers, Content owners, Retail and Services. This Network provides benefits for all sides and drives value creation and scale. The cumulative impact of the internet, digital technologies and platforms, caused an economic shift from supply-side to demand-side economies of scale.
A good example of a demand-side economies of scale is Apple with their iOS App Store and its ecosystem of nearly 380’000 developers. In 2015, with a 70/30 split with the developers, they earned $10 billion on resources they don’t own.
4. Predictable disruption
The emerging industry platforms and the resulting digital economies are the foundation of the next major technological and economic disruption, as it not only creates new business models but removes the once rigid boundaries between industries as well. Due to this interconnectedness, the future of digital ecosystem and future disruptions can be anticipated and allows a business to actively prepare for it.
5. Digital trust
With the increases of digital ecosystem and interconnected platforms, the demand for data security is more important than ever. Customer relationship can be strengthened by fostering strong ethical decisions and effective use of security against external threats.
Due to the exponential advancements of technology, parts of the workforce will always be affected. And displaced workers will find alternative function and employment elsewhere. We live in a man-made society and would never let anything, technology nor anything else, turn us into secondary inhabitants. And while technology plays a key role in deciding the direction businesses tread in the future, so are we humans; because we know we’re good at one thing, and that is to adapt.
Author: Frem Joller is a Business Analyst with Avoras AG.