Will Digitization Eliminate Jobs or Redefine Them?

April 26, 2016 - 14 Comments

Digitization is impacting companies in every industry as business leaders implement digital technologies and processes to transform all aspects of their operating models. Yet, even with the growth and innovation that digitization will drive, many people fear it will eliminate jobs at a record pace.

In addition, by 2020, four in 10 industry incumbents will be displaced by disruptive competitors (according to the “Digital Vortex” research conducted by the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, or DBT Center), further heightening the uncertainty around job security

At this important point in the evolution of business and technology, the question we should ask is: Will digitization eliminate jobs or redefine them?

The answer depends on how companies are digitized. If you look at technology simply as a way to reduce costs at the expense of your most important asset—people—job losses will mount. If, however, you approach digitization correctly by first reimagining work—understanding which new roles and skills will be needed in a digital world—the future of jobs is bright.

To help business leaders reimagine work, the DBT Center just released a new study, “Workforce Transformation in the Digital Vortex.” The research shows how empowering people with “digital accelerators” that combine business process change and technology creates the three capabilities of digital business agility—hyperawareness, informed decision-making, and fast execution.

Digital Business Agility Is Achieved with Six Digital Accelerators that Enable Hyperawareness, Informed Decision-Making, and Fast Execution

Digital Business Agility Is Achieved with Six Digital Accelerators that Enable Hyperawareness, Informed Decision-Making, and Fast Execution

Source: Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, 2016

These digital capabilities and accelerators can help organizations reimagine work and the jobs and skills workers will need as they digitize their businesses.

Hyperawareness with insight capture and work-pattern sensing

Developing hyperawareness requires people with strong communication and analytic skills—especially the ability to listen, formulate insights, and share information. Cultural change management will be required across all levels of the organization to share and act on these new insights.

Informed decision-making with ubiquitous analytics and collaborative decision-making

Informed decision-making requires workers who can embrace new technology, learn new skills, and provide honest feedback. Successful employees will also benefit from education and experience in Big Data, analytics, artificial intelligence, user experience, and system design.

Fast execution with agile talent pipeline and intelligent talent allocation

To help with fast execution, consider dedicating those with social media experience, analytics abilities, and good people skills to discover and recruit talent. Allocate budget to pay rewards for hiring top job candidates.

Digitization is not just about deploying technology to cut costs. The real goal is to drive business growth through innovation. That means reimagining work and empowering people in a digital context and creating a more efficient and fulfilling work experience along the way.

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  1. We should change and adapt to the new innovation and requirements!
    Excellent article!.

  2. Nice approach and a very well received by the crew. I applaud the stout adjustment to the digitization mindset rudder, this course correction is pivotal. It is in our best interest to make this resonate across all internal and external digitalization adoption efforts.

    Well done…

  3. I am a believer in the adage, if you don’t change, you will be left behind. While this state of change, Digitization, is the latest in a long line in our human history (e.g. Iron Age, Cars, Planes, computers…) we have all done very well by change happening, forcing us to redo, rethink, and #MoveForward. Don’t stand still – keep moving!

  4. excellent

  5. Excellent, good article and thoughts

  6. Transformational change is never easy. But the positive message of this article is very powerful. Digitization provides an organization with ample opportunities to develop an even stronger competitive advantage, and with proper execution, it’s the people who will bring that advantage to fruition.

  7. Very relevant Kevin, especially the work we are driving with Melinda’s org around digitizing the Sales organization. We are already adopting the agile mind set to move faster

  8. useful and informative for me.

  9. “Reimagining Work” = Key Point! Excellent report from the DBT.

  10. Kevin – good article and thoughts. On this point “how companies are digitized”, I think we will see companies take this as expense reduction or on pivoting toward the future to grow based on their internal culture and the external pressures of their industry. It will be interesting to see which approach is more viable for the long term for those companies.

  11. Being a part of the the digitization transformation @Cisco, I see the powerful potential and criticality of this change. Our ability to effectively manage the cultural change and hone our change agility is becoming a key strategic advantage, and I know we are rising to the occasion.

    • Timely article and thanks Susan (as always) for your people-centric insights. Digital technologies are key enablers of employee effectiveness, enabling people to collaborate virtually, access information from anywhere, stay connected with colleagues and work outside the office. In parallel, social expectations of flexibility and choice, diversity and individuality and mutual respect in the workplace have changed our expectations of how, where and when we work. More organisations need to explore the intersection of digital technology and workstyles and define what cultural change will be required to recalibrate expectations of empowerment, flexibility, desired behaviours and attitudes and associated reward systems.