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The Future of Work – how technology needs to support the employee experience

Danny Hicks, Blue Door Programmes, discusses the third of three new whitepapers from O2 Business focused on key future of work themes.

In my previous two posts, we took a deeper dive in to the themes of places and of people:

This week we consider technology, and how it needs to help support the employee experience. Within the next three years, employees will use virtual Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistants to complete tasks. And in five to 10 years ‘bot bosses’ will start to displace middle management by taking on more of their routine work. But there’s also the topic of upskilling, new types of jobs that are evolving, and the question around bot bosses and the new power dynamics in the workplace.

To discuss these, and more, we welcomed back Dave Cornwell, Head of Solutions at O2, for Episode 19 of the Blue Door Podcast:

Listen to the Blue Door Podcast, Episode 19: ‘Future of work: Technology, supporting the employee experience’

Listen to the episode here’

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Taking a closer look at this third whitepaper in a series of 3, Technology: AI, automation and collaboration: Why tomorrow’s talent is human + digital, Dave and I started by talking about how traditional organisations might embrace the opportunities presented by AI in the dynamic workforce of the future.

“I think this is an example of where our consumer lives will probably pave the way for what happens in our professional lives. If you think back twenty or thirty years ago, it would have been the other way around. Your organisation would have adopted technology far sooner than you would have outside of work. And that’s because of the historic cost and complexity of adopting new technology.

“But if you think about AI today, and if you just take take stock of where AI is influencing our life already, it’s actually all around us. We have virtual assistants like Google Home, Alexa and Siri in our homes. So it’s being embraced in our personal lives before becoming embedded in our professional lives.”

While we are on the subject of digital assistants, we consider how they could help you be more efficient, and how their growth is likely to be exponential in the coming years, in O2’s new whitepaper.

The growth of AI technology is likely to be for tasks that people consider repetitive, or that involves managing and analysing substantial quantities of data. Although growth in the adoption of digital talent is likely to start slowly, as much as 80 to 90% of data analysis roles are likely to involve technology by the end of the decade.

I asked Dave about the impact that digital talent might have on people, upskilling and the role of HR.

“For me, the adoption of technology should be led by HR. If we are to attract the right people, the right talent into an organisation, we need to have the right technology today. If we are to enable the business to operate in a post COVID world, we need right technology. And all of those things are driven by HR.”

In certain ways, I guess, COVID has enabled organisations, both small and large, to deliver on their digital transformation programmes more quickly than they originally intended or planned. A key observation appreciated by many organisations is how nimble and agile they could be when needing to keep staff safe and operating when and where possible. Many are now reviewing ways decisions traditionally have been made, appreciating that an agile mindset and ability to adapt quickly is becoming even more relevant in a world where the only constant is change. This leads to how people’s roles will need to adapt to continue to deliver value to the organisation.

My discussion with Dave went on to expand on these thoughts and looked at:

  • What tasks will we be using our virtual AI assistants to complete?
  • What will be the impact of ‘bot bosses’ as they start to displace middle management?
  • How do you manage and plan for the up-skill and re-skill needs for new types of job roles that are emerging?
  • What is the effect technology and Digital Talent will have on the green economy and a company’s sustainability credentials?

You can listen to the whole discussion in Episode 19 of the Blue Door Podcast. You can stream, download or subscribe to the podcast here.

You can also access all three white papers, considering the three core areas to enable a dynamic workforce:

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