From sports to health, education to journalism or marketing to banking, technology is dramatically influencing all business sectors. There is no way to deny it. Being able to take the digital universe to companies and instilling it in their DNA has gone from being a peripheral subject to positioning itself at the center of any business. Welcome to the era of digital transformation.
It is the great challenge that the business world will face during the coming years and there is no alternative but to pursue it. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Machine Learning, Robots or Augmented Reality are at the service of companies. Those companies who understand it and really know how to apply it are at a clear advantage.
Technology, what is it for?
Regardless of the business sector, there are already several examples of the application of technological tools to improve a company’s productivity, customer experience, an athlete’s performance, a patient’s health or even a worker’s safety.
In the health sector, for example, Machine Learning is used to identify breast cancer early, in order to increase the likelihood of a cure. In sports, the National Football League (NFL) uses this tool to reduce the number of injuries of players, as well as to study the recovery of athletes.
“Hiring” robots to work alongside humans is not new either. There are robots, controlled by AI, that can clean high-rise buildings and others that can even write news. In fact, at the end of 2019, the Portuguese news agency Lusa announced the arrival of a new element to its newsroom: a robot capable of writing the news about the opening and closing of the stock market. This is a trend that has been gaining more and more expression abroad and that proves that not even the most creative areas escape this digital revolution.
Digital transformation in corporate DNA
If the question started with whether companies should move towards a digital transformation strategy, we can now say that those that are not keeping up with technological changes probably no longer even exist. These companies are replaced by smaller companies and even startups that take economic sectors that until today were occupied by legacy companies.
In an interview with Exame Informática, Swami Sivasubramanian, vice president of Amazon Web Services, talks precisely about the importance of companies handling data and creating a culture that promotes the use of Machine Learning. For the Swami Sivasubramanian, it is essential to build a strong data strategy, identify and evaluate business problems, as well as defend a digital culture in companies.
According to “Deloitte Insights State of AI in Enterprise” report, in 2018, 63% of companies invested in Machine Learning to accompany or reduce the leadership of competitors. This is a trend that, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), will skyrocket. In fact, in 2017, 70% of the companies in the Fortune 500 already had teams dedicated to digital transformation.
However, to follow these changes it is not enough to just adopt a series of innovative technologies. The digital transformation implies much more than that: there is a transformation that must be done in terms of the leadership mentality, which can often be done with a coaching or mentoring strategy.
At Future.Works, we work with employees and teams to prepare them for the challenges of the future of work. Combining several Learning & Development solutions, we can improve skills, develop careers and, consequently, increase productivity levels.
More flexible and digital workspaces
There is also a whole generation — already after millennials — that will challenge companies to look at the very space where they work with others. This is a trend and a path that had already been followed by many companies even before Covid-19, but which was accelerated thanks to the global pandemic.
The office is increasingly a mental place and flexibility is an almost mandatory factor. Technological tools make it possible for workspaces to be more flexible and digital, although there are still some barriers to overcome.
For Phil Hochmuth, enterprise mobility and client endpoint management at IDC, the digital transformation requires that information technologies leave behind obsolete ways of thinking about how professionals work with computers, software, data, and rethink it in a context of a digital and intelligent workspace.
This means that, in order for workspaces to be, in fact, more flexible and digital, and for organizations to really be able to take advantage of the digital transformation, it is crucial that there is a change in mentalities, methodologies and old processes which, today, may be out of date, not responding to current market needs.
In addition to technologically inflexible workspaces, IDC also defends, in a study entitled “Intelligent Digital Workspaces: Enabling the Future of Work”, that very hierarchical and rigid leaderships, the limitations of attracting talent and the existence of inadequate privacy and security networks are also factors that hinder the transformation of work.
Training, the key to success
In this context, training emerges as an essential tool to unlock human potential. To build a culture of digital transformation in companies, it is necessary to consider the teams’ own development, which includes an investment in Learning & Development (L&D). For José Paiva, Chairman & co-founder of Future.Works, the training and development model must be rethought in companies, and L&D hours should be included in the employees’ working hours.
If, on the one hand, it is necessary to create the right skills for engineers, on the other, it is essential to ensure that managers and employees are receiving training to understand the technologies that are being implemented. The process must involve the entire organization. Both leaders and developers must reflect on the benefits of digital transformation and how certain technological tools can contribute to solving business problems.
The digitization of work and the introduction of machines and new technologies, increasingly intelligent and sophisticated, promises to eliminate jobs that, until now, were made by humans. In fact, according to McKinsey & Company, by 2030, about 800 million workers worldwide will be able to be replaced by robots at work.
However, the abolition of certain jobs also represents the creation of others. Automation and robotics will eliminate repetitive tasks that do not add value, thus enhancing the human characteristics of each individual. The perspective of “humans with the right technology”, instead of “humans versus technology”, makes us believe that the future, although it requires more cognitively complex skills, will finally unleash human energy for more creative and challenging tasks.
This is also why requalification and training are so important, not only for the professions of the future, but also for current functions. The goal is to put technology at the service of humans, so that machines and people work together to improve processes, increase productivity, contribute to well-being and even help in the evolution and development of society.