December 1, 2020
The principles for ensuring a smooth amalgamation of technology into the workplace
In today’s highly digitized world, technology is no longer limited to our workspaces; it invades every aspect of our lives, and has immeasurable influence on our thoughts and actions. Technology today is evolving faster than it ever did before, and in the process, redefining our work lives. In organizations, digital interventions focus on enhancing customer experience, improving enterprise productivity and enriching employee engagement to sustain and even grow the organization’s competitive advantage. For the workforce, it translates into acquiring new skills and adapting to new ways of work to retain their relevance in the emerging world of work, aka, Industry 4.0. This is a move forward from ‘Knowledge Worker’ to ‘Digital Worker’, with technological disruptions now touching everyday life.
Technology is an accelerant for human progress and its history is probably as old as human evolution itself. It grows at a different pace through different times, through a build-up on the previous one. At the same time, it also branches out into new directions, carving new pathways. As we see the evolution from steam to electric power, now moving towards automation, so is the case with information technology which is now evolving into cognitive technologies (AI, Robotics, Internet, IOT, Block-chain, etc.). These new-age technologies are disrupting the old order and unlocking new ways of living, working, and thriving.
Today, we do not have a choice on whether or not we adopt digital transformation. The choice is about how well we do it. The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated digital technology, resetting work, the workplace and the marketplace. We all have been experiencing this through the periods of lockdown and unlocking in our work practices and customer interfaces.
Technology never retraces and the best way to adapt and leverage it is to apply the 5 Es:
EMBRACE: Accept the changes happening. They are unstoppable and if we fail to accept, we will be driven out of the game.
ENABLE: Make it happen in the organization with the leadership level driving it as a business proposition; up-skill people with digital competencies and build requisite infrastructure for adoption by all.
ENHANCE: Gain competitive advantage by enhancing the organizational productivity, through both efficiency and effectiveness of decisions. Augment stakeholders experience with speed and flexibility.
ENRICH: Adopted correctly, digital is going to enrich both Customer Experience in the market place and Employee Experience in the workplace. While the deliverables on customer expectations will move to the next level of hassle-free, on-time at his doorstep, employees will also be able to amalgamate work and personal life in a stress-free and meaningful way.
ENSURE: A Human Digital to ensure the safe and secure co-existence of humans with digital technologies. The convergence of information, connectivity and communication in real-time has enabled human-to-machine, machine-to-machine and machine-to-human interfaces, which pose a major risk of machine superiority. There is risk of information security and control security with cognitive technologies.
As Stephen Covey said, “Technology and tools are useful and powerful when they are your servant and not your master. Technology is a great servant but a terrible master”. We must ensure that we never let machines master the human.