The 4th Industrial Revolution impact on the Workforce of Now and the Future

The 4th Industrial Revolution impact on the Workforce of Now and the Future

In our last article, we discussed how workforce planning is central to four key sections of an organization that touch on the different aspects of the Human Capital i.e. HR, Operations, Finance and IT (Technology).

Today we pick up from the Technology aspect. I believe if you asked any CEO, HR Manager or operations manager now, a lasting outcome of the COVID-19 Pandemic, is the need for a way to track staff productivity remotely and measure performance. Most organizations are experiencing a hybrid work setting of both remote working and on-site working.

4IR – The 4th Industrial Revolution

I love and recommend this book by Evelyn Ngatia, Understanding the 4th industrial Revolution, which simplifies and unpacks this buzzword 4IR and all it means to us, in such an easy relatable way. She describes that the 4th industrial revolution builds on the digital revolution and it is a fusion of the digital world and the physical world.

The industrial revolutions from the first one has always been about increasing the level of productivity and efficiency. It has been about automating some of the tasks that human beings do, hence freeing us to do the thinking, the creating, the socio-emotional aspect of work while the machines take up the complex, fast-moving tasks and those that are repetitive and mundane in nature.

The technological enhancements we are seeing excites me. Previously impossible things are now becoming possible and being arrived at faster than before because of technology. That fusion of the physical world and the digital world has made things easily and readily accessible and this creates infinite opportunities. What we need to do is understand the changes and find our place in it to be the Rothschilds and the Zuckerbergs of this fourth economy.

Changes in Workforce Skills and Jobs

As 4IR is dramatically changing the global systems and with it labour and production, we should be asking ourselves, what does that mean to us? It requires us, as jobseekers, to prepare for job mobility by arming ourselves with the skills and capabilities necessary to adapt to the rapidly changing needs specifically of African Firms.

The changes we are starting to see are mainly on technical, mechanical tasks/skills which can, to some degree, be automated and have already been automated. More automation will be seen in these areas as technological advancements are made.

An Example:

In the banking sector where we used to have to go to the banking hall to do transactions back in the 1990s and earlier. It is 2021, and I have not stepped into a banking hall for about 10 years now. Why? With ATM machines being introduced, mobile banking taking center stage especially in Kenya with M-PESA, and now online banking and banking apps becoming the trend especially with COVID-19, I have been able to carry out any banking transaction from the comfort of my home. I can’t help but wonder how many teller jobs have since fallen off and what the future of the role looks like. On the flip side, cyber security roles in the banking sector have become quintessential to the new functionalities of banking as it is.

However, those tasks that need a person’s touch can be said to still be necessary, with an evolved way of approaching things as the customer also evolves. All round there’s a need to upskill and remain relevant now and in the future to keep up with the fast moving work trends.

Digitization brings about faster economic growth and job creation. Technological enhancements will create rapid efficiency which translates to more production which boosts the individual’s and nation’s economy. We only need to adapt ahead of time.

Workforce Planning Software systems

In all this, automation of the workforce planning process is needed now more than ever. It is key to managing our greatest resource. Workforce planning software systems create:

  1. Improved levels of productivity
  2. Visibility of the workforce particularly in this time of remote working and hybrid working systems.
  3. Foresight through accurate forecasting
  4. Efficiency in managing complex planning processes
  5. Improvement of workforce Utilization
  6. Analytics which eliminates blind decision making.
  7. Compliance to regulations

It is unrealistic to expect to plan with accuracy and dexterity, any big number of staff manually and be exhaustive at it. Workforce planning is complex and fast moving carrying with it lost opportunity to increase productivity and efficiency when done manually. I like the thoughts shared in this article The Cost of developing a Production Schedule in Excel by Chris Mollison, CEO of Scheduling Solutions South Africa, in which he touches on the Inefficiency Cost and Lost productivity cost among other downsides to using MS Excel as the only planning tool and I add, manual whiteboard planning, to schedule our workers.

We are in a data driven world where we have access to insatiable data. The quote by Edward Deming, “In God we trust, everyone else bring data” is very relevant in this time as business decisions have become heavily dependent on data. It is from the Workforce Planning software systems that we can now derive data for workforce analytics that enable clear short and long term decisions to be made.

DOXA Workforce Planning Software is an excellent planning tool that’s affordable and created for the African Market.

 “There has never been a time of greater promise or greater peril.”- Prof. Klaus Schwab

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