In the first blog of this series we talked about the key ingredients of the fourth industrial revolution and the fact that the speed of change has gone to a different level. While it took more than a hundred years to move from the first industrial revolution to the second one and another seventy years to move from the second to the third industrial revolution, it has taken less than 50 years for the world to move from the third to fourth industrial revolution. In addition to the speed of change, the world is now characterized by increased complexity which puts an inordinate amount of pressure on all layers of leadership in the organization.
Let us examine the first three implications of the fourth industrial revolution that I had talked about in the first blog on the subject. These were:
a. Greater automation will lead to a number of low skilled jobs being made redundant as automation and robots increasingly taking over these jobs.
b. Businesses will have to invest an increasing amount of time and money in up skilling their employees and ensuring that their leadership team is ready with the required competencies to meet the challenges due to the fourth industrial revolution.
c. Employees will also need to invest in developing themselves with skills which cannot be replaced by robots
These three are interconnected in the sense that both the employer and the employee will be affected by these changes which will encompass the workplace in the next five years.
The employers will have to make investments in technology to get the best in automation technology to ensure that their product remains competitive and is of the requisite quality to satisfy discerning customers. These customers will be spoilt for choices and would have the ability to easily make an informed choice among multiple options due to the information available to them on their smartphones. They would have to also invest in up skilling their present workforce to become capable of moving on to jobs which could not be done through robots. The employers would also have to deal with the social disruptions caused in the communities by the redundancies in the workforce due to the skill mismatch. Companies could reduce the impact by spending part of the CSR allocation to manage this.
The employees would have to make a major shift in the way they approach their jobs with ongoing acquisition of skills becoming a way of life. Skills which are easily transferable between different job roles would become more valuable to a job seeker. It is more likely that the employer and employee become partners in this endeavor of constant up skilling to be ready for the jobs of the future. We will see an increasing number of employees and employers who are unwilling to adapt falling by the wayside.
The third critical issue is the investment which organizations will have to make in developing the leadership team and equipping them with the competencies required to cope with the workplace of today. Developing the leadership team to meet the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution is not something which can be accomplished in a day, a week or a month. Holistic leadership development interventions which give tangible results take between 8 to 18 months depending on the level of leadership being addressed, with developing competencies in senior leaders taking more time.
In my opinion, investment in machines/robots/automation is relatively easy, developing people takes time and an inordinate amount of management mindshare. There is also a tendency to look at short term cost of these capability development interventions as a “Cost” rather than an “Investment” that the organization has to make to grow. Most experts agree that the fourth industrial revolution will encompass us entirely by 2020 – Will you be ready?
Rajiv is the principal consultant at R Square Consulting. This is second in a series of blogs, which will discuss the effect of the fourth industrial revolution and the competencies required to be successful in the workplace of 2020. The next blog in the series will examine the competencies required to succeed in2020. Rajiv can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. for any query, discussion or any professional requirements.
About R Square consulting : R Square consulting provides end to end services in the field of building leadership and managerial capability to include leadership development interventions based on a holistic blend of exploration, reflection, action learning and coaching, assessment centers and various Organizational development interventions.
We are a HR consulting firm providing customised and holistic HR interventions for developing the human capital of an organization through:
Executive Coaching –
Assessment and Development Centers
Organizational Development Interventions
Leadership and managerial capability building
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