The Future of Work – Big Data, Data Analytics & Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The Future of Work – Big Data, Data Analytics & Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Human Resources

Editor’s note: Industry 4.0 is coming. The purpose of our series is to get employers thinking about ways to use this new technology to improve their business; and for HR professionals to understand the impact this might have on the workforce and their own roles requiring greater analytical abilities.

In our third edition of the Future of Work, we look at the evolution of the “social enterprise” with an increased external focus for all members of the organisation combined with increased collaboration by employees within teams.

Historic Model

The traditional organization is very hierarchical with significant energy wasted by most employees on inward focused activities with little connection to the end customer.

The Social Enterprise

With the support of technology, it is anticipated the Future of Work will allow successful businesses to be much more focused on the end customer. This will be accompanied by increased collaboration between employees, with employees likely to be organized in a multi-functional “network of teams” as opposed to hierarchical structures. The team dynamic is anticipated to support greater problem solving, improved decision making and flexibility.

Impact on HR

According to a 2019 Deloitte study the impact on HR is to look at employees differently with a focus on:

  • Accessing capabilities not just people;
  • Embedding learning into all parts of an employee’s role to improve decision making abilities;
  • Promoting mobility as a means of development and engagement; and
  • Leveraging technology

Where We are Today

Collaboration tools and other technology are already available in theory to promote improved interaction between teams and to set up teams into more flexible units. The challenge in practice and particularly in South Africa seems to be the following:

  • Recruitment & Leadership – finding the right talent and leadership to be able to manage nimble teams;
  • Organisational memory and established businesses – for many of the established businesses a change of this magnitude comes with significant risk and corporate memory tends to come with its own inertia;
  • Training – while there are better online and augmented reality tools emerging, training for problem solving as opposed to traditional topics is not quite there yet;
  • Cultural and legacy barriers – the Social Enterprise model assume an inclusive organisation where diverse views and people are encouraged with the aim of improving problem solving and creating a better connection to end consumers. There is much that still needs to be done in this area.