Tech and the workforce of the future
eCom Scotland MD and WES Ambassador Wendy Edie, recently presented at the Digital Women Conference in Edinburgh. Here is an excerpt from her speech..
In 5 years’ time, my daughter will be 17 and by 2022, she will be the ‘workforce of the future,’ so what will her expectations be for developing her employability skills and preparing her for new types of work environment?
Will an online onboarding programme be the norm? Will she need to attend a working environment, or will she visit within a virtual environment? Will she ever need to ‘clock in’? as her wearable technology will probably track her every move, not just her steps. Even now, the new Apple Watch Series 4 can tell if you fall over running and will call an ambulance for you.
The rapidly changing workplace
In the workplace, jobs are rapidly changing as “augmented intelligence” takes over the mundane tasks. Most of us are familiar with Siri or Cortana which understands your voice. Now the same type of software can interpret photos, sensor information and other data sources. Insurance companies now have software that can view a picture of your dented car, identify the make and model, and compute the amount of the claim.
The smart phones we carry have 6 sensors (temperature, GPS, accelerometer, humidity, ambient sound, magnetometer, and more), which enable mobile devices to do things we never thought computers could do. Soon we will have devices that listen to our voice, understand when we are under stress, monitor our heart beat, and give us personal recommendations for better meetings, work conditions, and customer interactions. The opportunity for work augmentation, work improvement, and productivity improvements is massive.
Employability skills for the future
So where does this leave our jobs? And what are the employability skills needed for the future?
Deloitte UK research, looked at hundreds of job profiles and identified 25 critical “human skills” that are expected to become ever-more important as technology evolves. So my daughter will need skills like empathy, listening, communication, discernment, negotiation skills, and critical thinking. Robots cannot replace humans in that respect.
Rethinking the customer and employee experience
Every company has the opportunity to rethink its own customer and employee experience, and apply technology to make it better. The ability to provide a modern and dynamic career environment is one of the top drivers of employment for the workforce of the future. And that’s the space we are researching; the things that intrigue us are augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
AR is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. AR technology is seeing growing interest in businesses for various use cases, e.g., field inspections.
We are working on AR ideas including an onboarding AR app that Geomaps the user around a building with specific targets to meet H&S checks, safe equipment usage, introduce key members of the team etc.
VR typically refers to computer technologies that use software to generate the realistic images, sounds and other sensations that replicate a real environment (or create an imaginary setting), and simulate a user's physical presence in this environment.
Businesses could leverage the technology to create a more immersive and visual collaboration experience for employees. Imagine entering a video conference with remote coworkers. Instead of using a webcam on a desktop or mobile device, you slip on virtual reality hardware and enter a virtual meeting room where you can see and interact with co-workers, just like in an in-person meeting.
An explosion of digital possibilities
The next 5 years are going to be interesting times and with the infrastructure and tech now available, we are going to experience an explosion of digital possibilities. I only hope that my daughter doesn’t leave home as she can work the tech better than me.
Wendy Edie is a WES Ambassador and the Managing Director of ECom Scotland , a learning solutions company with 21 years of experience in delivering innovative learning technologies.