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Technology is perhaps the greatest equalizer and enabler of today and the future, as the saying goes “no one knows who you are on the internet.” The digital era including internet of things (IoT), robotic process automation (RPA), cognitive technologies, blockchain, augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR) is quickly blurring the lines between humans and machines.
"It’s our responsibility as the creators to make sure we can live with it constructively"
As a society, we are becoming more technology dependent, making it an unavoidable extension of our minds, actions, and behavior. It’s figuring out how to best learn, interface, design, manage, and integrate the technology effectively and safely with humans that has yet to be solved.
The evolution of technology has been an ongoing pursuit of intelligence through the processing of information. As more information becomes accessible, managing and processing the information has presented a growing challenge. Faced with how technology can solve the challenge, we often overlook a small yet fundamental variable, which is the human at the center of it all that ultimately has to understand:
1) Who the technology benefits?
2) What are the technology dependencies?
3) Where and When to use the technology?
4) How the technology has the ability to enable them?
With technology often oversimplified, it comes as no surprise that a wide spread tech-phobia has emerged. Industry studies reveal a growing digital skill gap with subject matter experts and across large organizations. This real-world problem is increasing with the pace and complexity of technology change. Notwithstanding, it’s important to recognize some of technologies existing limitations and dependencies on humans:
• Non-Cognitive Technology requires instructions, structured data, and discrete rule-sets
• Cognitive Technology uses computations from individuals’ actions, which have hidden biases learned and applied when gathering and processing data
• Cognitive Technology provides probabilistic outputs
• Cognitive Technology can fail in ways different from the error patterns of humans
• Divergences in the objectives of technology and human goals could create a conflict
Technology advancements coupled with the digital skill gap are increasing the risk and equally the need to keep humans engaged. This is perhaps the best time and opportunity to upgrade the human operating system and develop new and critical roles.
Enabling a digital workforce requires a shift not of what, rather how individuals continue to learn, interact, innovate, and create meaningful outcomes. Regardless of where you are in the journey, below are some considerations from experience that can help you catch the fastest digital wave rather than have it come crashing down on you:
1. Integrated & Continuous Learning Environment: setting up basic training, learning and specialized programs to help promote awareness, understanding, and continuously build basic to advanced STEM skills. Creating virtual communities, interactive live-scenario labs, and open source cross-collaboration, where everyone and anyone is continuously a student and teacher
2. Interoperable, Scalable and Agnostic Technologies: investing in and developing technology (productivity, crowd-sourcing, BPM capabilities, RPA, cognitive technologies) that are both smart and easy to use across the organization, and can easily interface or be integrated with other systems
3. Contagious Community & Culture: creating a social currency people feel gives them an edge; providing triggers that naturally remind people to use or apply a solution; making positive results public across the enterprise; demonstrating the practical value of how a technology is useful to any individual; and generating stories that will be shared and remembered over time
As a society, we have surpassed the theory of Moore’s law. With processing speeds of electronic circuits estimated at a million times faster than bio-chemical ones, time no longer becomes a factor as it relates to making any type of breakthrough.
Now imagine tomorrow, you are preparing an email, when suddenly a voice interrupts you:
“Good morning, I noticed you have been on several calls, emails, and web sessions the last month, and patterns suggest a new process. I’ve analyzed the data and the same outcome has been reached three different ways. I have documented the optimal process, including recommended enhancements. I’ve simulated and sent the process to your AR/VR headset; would you like to experience it?” To which you respond, “that would be great.” Following your immersion, the voice speaks up again. “I sensed an uncertainty. Do you have any updates or would you like to roll-out the new process?” The voice that interrupted you was your digital office-mate and intelligent system.
It is no longer a question of when and if, intelligent technologies exist, and have become the new standard for organizations that are looking to secure a future. It’s our responsibility as the creators to make sure we can live with it constructively. Those who are first to solve this, recruiting and building talent, empowering and retaining the right people, adapting to change and developing and adopting the right technologies to enable and integrate with their workforce, will ultimately become the leaders, influencers and educators of the future, and some might even say rule the world.