Preparing for the Oncoming Wave of Automation and Artificial Intelligence

‍Disruptive technologies have transformed our world. From self-driving vehicles to near-instantaneous drone deliveries, innovation has evolved the status quo for everyday life. Similarly, established companies have found maintaining ‘business as usual’ increasingly difficult, as global markets – and global competitors – have emerged.

Ongoing changes in technology and the workplace are projected to increase and accelerate. A recent report from the Brookings Institution (a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC) predicts that 25% of U.S. jobs will face high exposure to automation within the coming decade and nearly every occupation will be affected by the adoption of available technologies. The World Economic Forum similarly reports that 54% of all employees will require significant upskilling by 2022.

‍Change is coming; below, we’ve listed four ways businesses can prepare for it.

1. Create, strengthen, and maintain a culture of Continuous Improvement

Continuous Improvement is the process of making small, incremental changes to improve efficiencies and reduce waste. Business leaders should adopt a structured methodology like Lean or Six Sigma and utilize tools like DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) or PDSA (Plan, Do,Study, Adjust). 

Get executive management involved; without executive buy-in, any improvement effort or initiative is at risk for being viewed as unimportant or unsupported. Leading by example is powerful and communicates strong commitment.

If your organization is new to Continuous Improvement, it may be prudent to start small. Pilot with one department or one office and work out any process issues on a small scale. Implement selected ideas quickly to demonstrate the value placed on improvement and reward and recognize participation; employees are vital to making the culture successful. 

Finally, regularly review completed improvement initiatives and demonstrate the cumulative and compounding impact small improvements can have on an organization.

2. Promote a constant learning mindset  

Increasing the amount and frequency of employer-led training or certification can create a mutually beneficial relationship between the employee — who values opportunities for career and skills growth — and the organization, which needs to meet emerging talent needs.

Building and maintaining an extensive inventory of employee skills can empower a company to align its in-house resources with specific job needs, as well as reveal employee abilities previously unknown to the company

3. Provide perspective and strengthen communication

Automation replaces human labor with work done by machines. The goal is higher quantity and quality at a reduced cost.  Recognize, though, that automation is a substitute for tasks, not jobs; a job is a group of tasks – some of which are best done by people.  

The tasks most likely to be impacted by automation are those with a high degree of routine, predictable, and codified work. Automation complements labor; whatever task is not done via automation becomes more valuable and generally more productive and rewarding. Additionally, when employees are freed from mundane tasks, they have more capacity to innovate.

Leaders can help reduce employee anxiety by establishing a regular cadence of communication and by providing clear, concise direction when employee responsibilities are likely to change.

4. Ensure systems are in place to manage change and retain data

Having an optimized electronic system can enable companies to better track employee skills, manage and update training records, and facilitate change management.

If you’d like to speak with experts who regularly help companies embrace change, establish Continuous Improvement cultures, promote ongoing education, strengthen communication, and architect systems to manage critical information, we’d love to chat. Gerent has been helping customers design and implement Salesforce solutions for over a decade. Contact us today to find out how we can help your company prepare to meet the digital era head-on!

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