Why Our View Of Being Human In A Digital World Must Change

Paul Kurchina

Technology innovation has been a source of inspired thinking for generations. From movie screens and books to the innovator’s sketch pad, the dream of life fully automated, entirely informed, and effortlessly enjoyable has guided every invention and innovation created throughout human history.

Humans have always been masters of technology innovation, but something happened in the last five years. Over 40% of companies listed at the top of the Fortune 500 disappeared by 2010. Business models that lasted more than 100 years are no longer competitive enough to gain customer attention. The 33-year average lifespan of businesses in 1964 has narrowed to 24 years in 2016 and is expected to further decline by 50% in 2027. And now, people are afraid that robots will soon replace them – or, as some may say, erase the usefulness of the human race.

How did we go from daydreaming about the impossible possibilities of technology to fearing its vast potential? The reason is quite simple: we’re letting technology reshape us, instead of commanding how it can further perfect our lives.

It’s time to get curious about going digital again

Without a doubt, people, in general, have been caught up in the velocity, volume, and variety of change in this world. No matter the technology we adopt, there’s always a newer, better, faster, and easier innovation around the corner. Even our employers are continuously rethinking, reimagining, and resetting themselves as they find new ways to become more efficient, effective, and relevant.

But when it comes to fulfilling our career plans and sustaining our livelihoods, we are letting this endless wave of digital transformation happen to us, not for us. This passivity in digital adoption is not what this new economy needs to grow sustainably and extend prosperity to all people.

Instead, we need to start considering technology as a tool to reframe our careers based on three emerging truths:

1. Being human is a competitive advantage

Recently, I have come across articles that declare that “human is the next big thing” in digital transformation. When you consider that five generations are coexisting in the workplace and life spans are increasing to a point where the 100-year life and a perennial career are well within reach, this line of thinking makes sense. However, I also argue that, when it comes to digital strategies, human is – and should have always been – the big thing.

Think about it: technology exists because of our human nature and ingenuity. With or without it, people still need, for example, to collaborate globally and across industries, simplify daily activities, equalize economic prosperity, and remove bias to make less discriminatory hiring and promotion decisions. And nothing is more capable than we are in understanding these issues and the role technology plays to improve them.

2. Personal purpose is an asset at work 

Most successful leaders in business, government, and social causes understand that their personal purpose drives decisions and actions. Every day, they live out authentic lives by using their passions as a guide.

Your personal brand encompasses everything that you value, fight for, and stake your reputation on. It’s your purpose. It’s what makes you distinctively you. By knowing how technology can be used to clearly articulate and fulfill your mission, you can lean into your purpose with vindication and lead with it. 

3. We must get fit for what’s next

The convergence of digital technologies and physical workspaces is disrupting everyone from top executives to interns. And with up to 47% of jobs susceptible to digital replacement within the next decade, there’s no better time to future-proof yourself.

To prepare for what’s next for your career, you should add two tasks to your to-do list:

  • Become tech-fluent: Do your research about emerging technology, especially if your organization is not using it yet. Take this opportunity to reshape your work experience based on your strengths and skills.
  • Make lifelong learning a daily habit: Understand the latest technology and the best practices and skills needed to support it. This level of self-awareness can help you defend the value of your role, find new ways to improve your job, and innovate processes that match implemented digital capabilities.

Corporation You: Treat your personal digital transformation like a business

Just as our employers are reinventing themselves, we must also actively evolve ourselves, accept risks, and think with insatiable curiosity, agility, focus, and openness.

Old rules need not apply here – there’s no such thing as a corporate ladder, anointed retirement age, and a magic age for life’s major milestones. By breaking away from these traditional myths and owning the capabilities that technology offers, we can rediscover our value as creative, emotionally intelligent, and self-aware workers who will always be irreplaceable.

Reflect, rethink, reimagine, and innovate yourself to prepare for now and years to come. Register today to attend “Innovate You: Get Fit for What’s Next in Calgary or Vancouver, sponsored by Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG), to get all the insights and tools you need to thrive personally and professionally.

Image credit: © Agsandrew Dreamstime.com

Paul Kurchina

About Paul Kurchina

Paul Kurchina is a community builder and evangelist with the Americas’ SAP Users Group (ASUG), responsible for developing a change management program for ASUG members.