Today’s digital world gives access to a broad range of services and products all through a simple command to a smartphone, watch or appliance. In addition, for businesses, digital technologies also streamline operations, increase the productivity of global resources and increase profitability.

The downside of digital transformation is often employment uncertainty. Studies by Forrester, MIT and others show that 20-35% of today’s jobs will be eliminated by automation and technological innovation within the next 3- 5 years. If you are asking ‘will I be relevant and needed in the digital world?’ or ‘How can I develop my employees’ for success in the future’, consider the following questions:

  1. Are the daily or weekly tasks in your job repetitive and predictable?
  2. Are decisions and actions based on historical patterns and logical analysis or a myriad of factors that require judgement and complex problem solving (often with human intuition)?
  3. What is your role in delivering a positive customer experience through communications, empathy and decision making?
  4. Do you lead through inspiration and empowerment of your employees, teams and suppliers?

In a digital world, robots, machines and systems may be ‘taught’ to accurately perform actions such as data entry and organization, standardized manufacturing tasks or even repetitive sales and customer service functions. However, when unpredicted issues or exceptions occur, human interaction is often required to understand, weigh various aspects of the situation to make judgment calls and ultimately resolve the problem.

Problem-Solving through Critical Thinking

For example, Amazon uses robotics to efficiently pick and package ordered items from the warehouse based on barcode identification. However, when there is damage or a stocking issue, the robot alerts a manager who investigates the issue, determines the root cause and prevents the issue from reoccurring in the future.

Across all industries, repetitive tasks can often be done more efficiently and effectively through technology. However human analysis and judgement are critical for complex problem-solving. The employees and managers most skilled in critical thinking and use of human intuition will have the greatest value and relevance in the digital future.

By combining problem-solving with customer communications, Oslo Norway accounting firm Azets maximize profitability and customer experience. Robotics and artificial intelligence are used for the input and organization of clients’ expenses and income for taxation. However, ‘human’ accountants review and discuss exceptions with clients. Consider a case when Azets’ system identifies a large expense from an unknown source (which might be fraudulent). It then notifies the accountant assigned to the client of the exception. Through analysis of the expense and his /her knowledge of the clients’ objectives, the accountant can either verify or dispute the transaction. Often this will require a potentially sensitive discussion or a meeting with the client.

People to people Customer Service

Effective interpersonal communication skills are essential when resolving issues impacting clients – whether related to financial transactions, product/service utilization or business enhancement. By developing the ability to communicate clearly, empathetically and effectively with employees and customers, employees in all organizations will maximize their relevance.

In a recent study, 70% of consumers said they prefer to deal with a person versus technology – especially when faced with a problem. Those employees best prepared for the future will have demonstrated communications, problem-solving and judgement (through human intuition) skills.

Leadership for the Future

In the words of iconic innovator and leader, Steve Jobs, “It is not the tools but the people that drive success”. Today, when employees are often dealing with the uncertainty of change in the business world, leaders’ ability to inspire, empower and instil a vision for the future is more critical than ever. By communicating a clear vision for the future, involving employees in decision making and empowering them to enhance their critical thinking, problem-solving and judgement skills, a leader and their team are becoming Future-Ready.

The future is upon us – start enhancing your relevance today.