We are living in an age of disruption. More than 50 years after the formulation of Moore’s law – which holds that computing power doubles on capability every 18-24 months – technologies such as articifical intelligence (AI), mobile
platforms, sensors, robotics and social collaboration systems are becoming more pervasive and revolutionizing the
way we live, work and communicate.
In an increasingly connected world, one only has to think of how platforms such as Facebook, Netflix or Uber have transformed how we interact with and perceive different industries. While these examples are portrayals of how technology has facilitated the upheaval of long standing business models and disrupted industries, research shows similar transformations are taking place in all areas of business. As AI systems, robotics and cognitive tools grow in sophistication, almost every job is being reinvented, creating what many call the “augmented workforce.” As this trend gathers speed, organizations must consider how they design jobs, organize work and plan for future growth.
Companies experiencing a fundamental shift
Our research shows that most companies are in the middle of this fundamental shift. Thirty-one percent of companies in this year’s Global Human Capital Trends survey tell us they are in the process of implementing AI and robotics, and 34% are piloting selected areas. And 10% say they are fully automated or highly advanced in this area.
Research clearly shows that one of the few rules for the digital age is to expand our vision of the workforce. We need to think about jobs in the context of tasks that can be automated (or outsourced) and the new role of human skills; and heighten the focus on the customer-employee experience.
As discussed in the 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, Ford Motor Co. has successfully harnessed the forces of technology disruption to become a pioneer in connectivity, mobility and autonomous vehicles. With nearly 200,000 employees, the company is going through a transformation, with a mission to “make people’s lives better by changing the way the world moves.”
Moving from product to consumer focus
Hinged on innovation, Ford has moved from a product to consumer focus in its products and services while also moving from a product to employee experience focus in its workforce solutions. The company has been developing new business and customer engagement models along with new product design and engineering approaches. To achieve these goals, Ford has aimed to cultivate a culture of empowerment for its employees; one focused on being nimble and defined by accelerated product exploration, creativity and development.
In contrast, new products are revolutionizing long standing conceptions of how the workforce interacts with machinery and robotics. ABB, for example, has introduced an autonomous yet collaborative robot called YuMi to its global assembly lines. YuMi is a dual arm, small parts assembly robot that includes flexible hands, parts feeding systems, camera-based part location and state-of-the-art robot control allowing it to work closely with human operative without the need for cages or barriers.
Global workforces are changing. Whether it is behind the scenes or on the assembly line, technology has become more intrinsic than ever to the manufacturing process. By focusing on the employee experience, business leaders can improve employee engagement, empower teams and develop workforce solutions that will be useful and compelling.
For more insights from Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report,