“At least 40% of all businesses will die in the next 10 years… if they don’t figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies” , says Cisco Chairman, John Chambers.
With ground-breaking technologies emerging each day, organizations are evolving and reshaping. While one can attribute the emergence of technology to the pandemic, it is pertinent to note that the life altering change at work and otherwise, may not have been possible, had the seeds of technology not already been sown. What we can attribute to the pandemic, is the pace of adoption and the innovation in use cases that it bought with it. A look around the role of technology and the change it bought with it brings out some very interesting developments.
Cloud based technology probably has been almost life saving for many organizations. Multiple functions of HR such as managing payrolls, hiring, on-boarding and performance evaluation have been made easier. Remote access made it easier for work to go unhindered keeping productivity metrics intact. Self service tools via HRSS systems made the remote workforce more self-reliant. When one did get stuck, AI enabled bots were always there to help! Block chain integrations across the entire value chain have resulted in ensuring data integrity and workplace transparency. It has also helped in collaboration between departments both internally as well as with external stakeholders like vendors and customers.
How are these technologies being used?
When it comes to change management, there hasn't been a bigger experiment in the recent past that has disrupted work as much as the last 18 months. Role of technology started with the transmission of relevant communication to the workforce in real-time. This helped in avoiding the "cascade communications" that required the luxury of time, which most organizations did not get. Traditionally, most organizations relied on managers to disseminate information - and it was the right thing to do too. In the months gone by, however, technology made up for speed that was lost as a result of remote working. With fast-flowing information, all employees could be on the same page - sometimes in situations that warranted immediate action like quarantine or lockdowns.
Innovative virtual solutions to assist in the entire spectrum of employee experience started off by being a necessity, slowly became a norm and now increasingly are being seen as best practices. For example, some very interesting tech-solutions can be seen in the recruitment space wherein technology not just manages the process for you, it also does a host of other activities, giving applicants a delightful and seamless experience remotely. From scheduling interactions and written assessments, online proctoring of assessments, virtual assessment centers, online interviewing and finally, digital on-boarding - the list of what technology can do only seems to be increasing exponentially!
The way forward
After the initial period of transition to remote working, questions of productivity started to plague organizations. This conundrum too, has found its answer in technology such as Industry 4.0, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Organizations are doing what they can to invest in such technology that would make them resilient in the face of any future mishaps.
This change has, however, posed another significant question - With technology moving as fast as it is, there is a pressing need to ensure that skill sets within organizations evolve at an equal pace. The traditional idea of Learning and Development has now been replaced by pertinent questions of Reskilling and De-skilling. De-skilling would substitute labor with technology and would eliminate the need for skilled or unskilled labor or diminish their role to a great extent. Re-skilling warrants the workforce to invest in acquiring skills that could potentially ensure that their current skills don't become an impediment to their future growth.
Yes, technology is here to stay and while all this sounds very “next-gen” - as organization practitioners, one mustn't forget that technology may never be a complete solution. For e.g. AI may not take the soft skills of an individual into consideration in a recruitment process. Similarly, HR intervention in the exit process of an employee can never be substituted by software. And on a lighter note, as they say in behavioral science, natural stupidity will probably always beat artificial intelligence!