There was one sentiment that dominated all conversations at the World Economic Forum2018 in Davos — the dominance of AI — and leader after leader shared perspectives and insights on how AI is impacting and is going to further affect many of the fundamental concepts of today’s businesses, work, and life.
Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai mentioned that AI is going to be more important than humanity’s mastery of fire or electricity; Alibaba founder Jack Ma cautioned that AI and robotization will kill a lot of jobs, and could start a 3rd world war; IBM’s Ginni Rometty invoked Karl Marx, telling corporate leaders that they had a responsibility to & prepare the workers of world for this revolution.
Managing the Transition
Automation is but natural, and we all know the positive and negative impact of it — Gartner reveals that in next 3 years, 1.3 million jobs will be lost but at the same time, 2.3 million new jobs will be created — from repetitive monotonous work over time has been eliminated, more creative and innovative work has seen an upsurge. As more and more routine jobs are going to be automated in the next 10 to 30 years, the most important thing will be the transition. How will organizations help people upgrade? How will the education system speed up to level with the speed of change in technology? What can organizations do to support workers in this transition and benefit from the available trained talent?
In Davos, C Vijayakumar, CEO, HCL Technologies shared how the opposite reality is also true. Firms are unable to find the talent they need. “We are not able to hire the right skills – whether is data scientists, cyber security specialist, even program management in the modern context – you cannot find the right talent. There are a million jobs in the technology sector that aren’t getting filled with the right level of talent,” he said. The narrative is not about job losses but really how can you reskill and bring people to deliver what is expected today and tomorrow. Job formats are about “flexibility” but as a society, we are used to 15-20 years of education followed by decades of work. However, this is changing and we are now moving to continuous learning – very important dimension of keeping yourself relevant.
Organizations like Accenture, CA Technologies, Cisco, Cognizant, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Pegasystems, PwC, Salesforce, SAP and recently added Indian IT giants TCS and Infosys are spearheading a global drive, SkillSET, for tech reskilling of one million workers in the first-ever such IT industry initiative. The program aims to bring competitive training content together on one platform to serve the greater good. The initiative will target 1 million people for training and resource opportunities on the World Economic Forum SkillSET portal by January 2021.
Good intentions will not suffice
Accenture Strategy report released during the World Economic Form Summit suggests that businesses investing in AI and human-machine collaboration at the same rate as top-notch companies, and could boost revenues by 38 percent by 2022 and raise employment levels by 10 percent. Collectively, this would lift profits by $4.8 trillion globally over the same period. While a majority (54 percent) of business leaders says that human-machine collaboration is important to their strategic priorities, only three percent noted that their organization plans to significantly increase its investment in reskilling their workers in the next three years. Managing the transition will benefit both businesses and societies at large but will necessitate a much deeper commitment and larger investment.