The future is here, and nothing proves this more than how quickly workplace technologies are evolving. What do you need to know to stay one step ahead? Here’s what one expert says should be on your radar.
I was recently working with some SAP Successfactors customers about new workforce structure options for them. As expected, talk quickly turned to how we can use workplace technologies – robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and the internet of things (IoT) – in their workplace.
What surprised me, though, was their apathy to this change; not that we do not see this change coming but the pace of the change and its impact. We can all see the impact of automation and technology in industries such as manufacturing, automated production lines – I think it’s come to a point where we now have robots building robots and then they are building the factory that will build these robot-building robots.
I started to give scenarios of the future workforce structures enabled by the use of technology. For example, using artificial intelligence and machine learning in call centres will make this workforce smaller but more expert-focused, with high-level knowledge workers in it.
This concept was welcomed by those in the room, but the question became “How long until this technology will be here?”. Well, the answer is it’s hear now – and these workplace technologies are ready to go. We then discussed IoT, using wearable technology to improve product supply chains … I’m sure you see the picture I’m painting.
Really, this post is a call to action for my fellow AHRI members and HR professionals. To say organisational design just got an injection of technology for you to use, and this world of big data and technology is not still relegated to the realm of science fiction – it’s very much here right now! Moreover, it is in use, and all practitioners need to know about it or risk getting left behind.
Here are some areas where you can start to bring these new workplace technologies into your organisation’s workforce planning;
Best showcased by the mad craze of ‘Pokémon Go’, this tech is now being used in heavy industries, through to retail. I can think of two areas where augmented reality can be useful for you. From a learning perspective, it’s a great training medium on your LMS. The second is it’s becoming a productivity enhancer for large scale infrastructure projects, like those used by engineers.
Let’s take a simple and well-known example: the Fitbit. Wearable technology like this can be used to allow employees entry to your facilities or secure access, or to pass information between employees as and when needed based on geographical location or level of approval.
At my company, we are adding an ‘onboarding’ solution that allows a virtual onboarding experience. Imagine walking through your office or factory before you get to the first day of your job, take a tour of your company’s offices around the world, or get ‘hands-on’ experience to learn how to do certain tasks and activities on machines you have not physically seen yet.
Big data can be presented in a virtual boardroom and displayed using a headset. The data is sorted by moves of your hand, and specific information becomes available at a single swipe.
The days of pervasive smart technology are here. HR has the opportunity to harness this – not be scared of it. Digital should be at the core of your workforce strategy, not separate from it.