in a time of technological acceleration, are you prepared to lead the leaders?

September 21, 2017 Rebecca Henderson

Everywhere you look, disruption is happening. That’s because, as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, change is accelerating at a blinding pace.

You’ve seen it and lived it in the office. Digitalization is transforming the very fabric of your business, while automation and robotics are broadly changing how your workforce manufactures goods and delivers services. Technology is leading to an experiential awakening, with the goal of boosting the engagement of workers, candidates and anyone else within your growing circle of influence. Innovation is moving so quickly that what was new and exciting just months ago now seems antiquated or ineffective.

All of these advancements present threats and opportunities for your company. Adopt critical technologies too slowly and you yield an advantage to your competitors. Move too quickly and you might soon realize you’ve chosen the wrong investment. Optimize the technology adoption cycle and you empower your workforce to achieve more.

Employers understand the value in finding the right balance. According to our 2017 Talent Trends research, which surveyed more than 700 C-suite and human capital leaders around the globe, more than half (52%) believe that failing to pay enough attention to talent innovation would cause their companies to lose out on top talent. What’s more, three-fifths of surveyed leaders believe their competitors are investing more in this critical area.

From robotic assistants on the plant floor, to artificial intelligence (AI) that screens candidate profiles, to drones and automated delivery vehicles, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is helping most companies redefine their business model. You’ve likely seen the impact on day-to-day operations in your workplace, so how do you prepare for the seismic shift underway?

Rethink the workforce.

Robotics and AI are here, and there is no going back. We know this because 84% of the employers we surveyed expect that these technologies will positively impact their business in the next three to five years.

Every day the market sees new technological breakthroughs. For example, in a scene straight out of a science fiction movie, Google’s AI-based translation system recently developed a language of its own. This is remarkable because its deep-thinking capabilities have developed a solution without explicit instructions from humans.

What does this kind of advancement mean for you? In the near future, technology will take on tasks we didn’t think could be automated. For instance, it might help your organization emotionally connect with people to drive business engagement. Or empower you to make better hires using AI to match candidates to your company culture. With so much development underway, you must be deliberate in assessing and adopting a new kind of talent.

Correlate the business impact.

Can technology innovation help you deliver better products and services? Can it enhance the output of your workforce and supplement skills you chronically struggle to acquire? How can it facilitate the goals of your business leaders? Most (73%) of those we surveyed believe digital resources open up opportunities for their companies.

Trailblazers such as Anheuser-Busch, Domino’s Pizza and TGI Friday’s have begun testing automation that could have a long-term impact on the way they fulfill business mandates and create customer experiences. Although still a long way from a commercial scale, these pilots show what’s possible with today’s cutting-edge tools. More importantly, they understand the business imperative for embracing innovation.

In your own organization, you’ve probably already experienced the benefits that technology can bring — in how you fulfill customer needs, find scarce talent or obtain business intelligence. Quantifying the exact effect on bottom-line results may be difficult, but to demonstrate the value of your technology investments, you have to be able to connect the dots between investment and business outcomes.

Evangelize your vision to the board.

Talent leaders have the unique and comprehensive view of what resources business executives need and the company’s ability to deliver them. Now it’s time to sell that vision to the board. How can technology give you the intelligence you need for more effective workforce planning? Does implementing a freelancer management system lower your costs of hiring contingent labor? How can digital tools help you acquire high-performing workers more quickly than competitors?

By acquiring the right analytical capabilities, human capital leaders can leverage their data and develop insightful answers to these questions. In fact, 72% of those surveyed say the ability to analyze internal and external employee data plays a critical role in sourcing, attracting, engaging and retaining talent.

Technology can have a positive effect on the way your organization gets things done, but never believe it is a complete replacement for your workforce. Innovation as far back as the first industrial revolution works best when paired with human intelligence and empathy, and this is true whether machines and humans are working together on a manufacturing floor or in an office making hiring decisions. The judgment of people, their problem-solving capabilities and their ability to relate to others are skills that many don’t expect robots and AI will replace in the near future. It’s these qualities that make people and the talent on your team unique and invaluable to achieving your business goals.

To learn more about how technology is impacting companies around the world, visit Talent Trends Quarterly, where you can download our latest reports and benchmark your company’s Technology Readiness and Technology Adoption scores against the market’s.

about the author

Rebecca Henderson

Rebecca Henderson is CEO of Randstad Global Businesses and executive board member of Randstad. In this core leadership role, Rebecca brings more than 20 years of experience in all facets of talent acquisition solutions and technology. With deep insights and progressive perspectives, Rebecca steers Randstad Global Business’ development to ensure human capital leaders can play a strategic role in driving growth locally, across regions and globally. Rebecca is a highly regarded leader in the talent management field and has been recognized by Staffing Industry Analysts in “The Global Power 100 Hall of Fame.”

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