Rise of technology at work as an idea isn’t something that has been a sudden phenomenon or a direct outcome of what we’ve seen over the past 18 months or so. ‘Evolution’ of technology at work probably describes the change of what was once considered as a good to have, has now become a predominant factor in driving both effectiveness and efficiency at work. I am sure most of us remember those endless debates in school that bordered around whether technology was a boon or a bane. While philosophically that question may still be pertinent, it probably is rhetoric if one has to look at it from a survival and growth standpoint – Technology is very much here, and here to stay.
The Digital Mastermind
Digitalization of everything has impacted all facets of the organization. Radical digital inventions have been instrumental in helping organisations boost its productivity numbers and redefine the contours of business processes.
The added onus on leaders, is the planning for and development of talent that would lead the organization towards successful implementation and adaptation of this digital revolution. It hasn’t been easy- at all. The skill sets available to organizations haven't changed overnight. It has required leadership teams to be more strategic about their talent acquisition, and resourceful enough to understand the fine balance of cost versus value in the process. Most such initiatives are lead indicators of the benefits that organizations are likely to derive in the future – In the interim, it has been largely HR’s prerogative to balance business financials on one hand and employee expectations on the other hand and to move slowly but surely to a point of 'real' digital revolution
Technology and the changing societal fabric
As the world saw increasingly blurry lines between professional and personal lives, technology once again found itself on the center stage of addressing challenges that have cropped up with the changing workforce demographic coupled with the pandemic. Shunned in the past, as the “warm and fuzzy stuff” that shouldn’t even make its way beyond the parking lot of the office skyscrapers, tables have now turned. Leaders, managers and even HR have grappled with having to understand the impact of work and life integration in a way that they’ve never had to before. Even if one were to isolate the impact of the pandemic, it is undeniable that the very fabric of society is changing in more ways than one. Late or no marriages, fewer or no kids, a far greater emphasis on mission and purpose than ever before, technology has been critical in helping organizations re-define talent management strategies to cater to these changing needs. AI based mentoring, coaching, engagement and development - The list is long, and it is hard to say where it ends!
The Hardware and the software of Tech Change
Cut the fat and build the muscle – with automation, robotics, AI etc all making their way in the top spends that organizations view as necessary investments, organizations are now ensuring that this realm of work is better understood and can maximize productivity. Technological investments within organizations are accompanied with an equal impetus on the people side of things. Whether it means right sizing, downsizing or up-skilling – all decisions have been excruciatingly difficult to predict, preempt and plan for. Work tech isn’t just a capex or an opex decision – It has far-reaching implications on the DNA of an organization. Organizations that understand this well, are better positioned to reap maximum benefits that technology offers.
Engagement in the times of COVID
Amidst all that organizations are going through; it is no surprise that one common thread that has assumed more importance than ever before is the idea of employee engagement. Seen at one point in time as a good annual data point that gave leaders a pulse of the organization, the fast-changing external environment has changed that paradigm too. And this is another area, where technology has proved to be very useful. From everyday pulse checks to Bots that are quick to ask you about your day – the innovation in this segment has been very interesting.
Even more than primary surveys, use of AI for ascertaining social networks within an organization or understanding emotions at work with the help of facial cues and body language – the use cases for AI in this realm of work is ever evolving and quite intriguing! Afterall, elevating the overall cultural quotient is the most important thing that can be done to attract and retain the right talent.
We write about technology here with almost a sense of awe and excitement. However, it is pertinent to note that while technology has no doubt changed the landscape of work, thinking of it as a panacea for all problems would probably be over-simplifying its use. Workplaces are people driven; and therefore, workplace effectiveness is as much an art as it is a science.
From a more holistic standpoint, it hasn’t just been technology. No matter what an organization's core business is, in addition to technology, finance and HR too have assumed an overall larger role in how businesses define their value proposition. The three functions, once known as support or tertiary, are now instrumental in the overall growth strategy of any organization. It becomes imperative to also think about and understand the best possible way these three levers can work together to help organizations thrive in times of uncertainty and change and rise, together.