Part 3 in the “CFOs and the Digital Workplace” series
Part 3 looks at the jobs and industries most likely to be affected by technological advances and offers some practical advice for future-proofing the workforce.
What jobs and industries will likely see the greatest changes? Jobs that are routine and repetitive continue to be automated through technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI), which will undeniably lead to the elimination of some job functions or tasks for roles such as telemarketers, real estate agents, and typists. The industries most likely to be affected are healthcare, transportation, and financial services, but the impact will be felt across all sectors. The inevitable progress to autonomous vehicles will affect not just the transportation business, but everyone who drives to work. Commuters will suddenly have an extra hour or two in a day that can be used to create, produce, or relax.
It’s worth noting that in most cases it’s not 100% of a job function that will be delivered by a machine. Often, only some elements of a job are made redundant, or the job might be adjusted so that the people who were doing that job or function will find different tasks to support the RPA. Conversely, some sectors will likely see new jobs being created.
How can technology augment the worker?
Consider the following example of the human processing unit (HPU): It’s impossible for a doctor to keep up with all the information from various sources – journals, white papers, blogs, social media, and so on. Previously, their productivity was based on the amount of information they could consume. But technology now amplifies that exponentially, and they get the benefit of all relevant knowledge that can be accumulated and curated.
This interface between technology and worker will look different in different jobs. For example, in healthcare, a robot won’t replace a doctor, but it will complement him or her with its ability to diagnose and recommend treatment.
As another example, the area of taxes continues to become more complicated. The U.S. federal tax code in the mid-1960s had circa 10,000 pages; it’s now up to approximately 100,000. While it’s incredibly difficult for an individual to keep up with these changes, a machine can be trained to handle this level of complexity. Accordingly, technology can dramatically improve the HPU of tax professionals. The instant a regulation changes, the integration of human and machine will know the impact and potential actions that need to be taken.
How should businesses make the future of work, work?
Technology should be used to re-humanize work rather than dehumanize it. Business leaders will need to experiment around the interface between a machine and a human. It’s not always easy to find the right balance. Companies tend to focus significantly more of their time and investment on the technology and less time asking, “How are we making this work within our workforce?”
To be successful, organizations need to embrace the concepts of empowerment and design the “interface” between technology and the individual. Most business leaders equate innovation with technology. As EY Global Chief Innovation Officer Jeff Wong recently discussed with Forbes, technology is driving much of the change, but process and people are a critical component to innovation. Wong provides some practical advice in helping companies future-proof their workforce:
- Invoke a mindset of continuous learning across the organization
- Teach people how to embrace new technologies
- Reframe what automation means for employees
- Don’t just train in a skill set, but evolve the way people learn
This is an excerpt from “Making the future of work, work,” originally published as part of the “Innovation Matters: insights on the latest disruptive technologies” series.
The views reflected in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organization or its member firms.