The Slovenia Times

The Digital Future is not about technology, it's about empowering people



Today, billions of people and machines are connected to each other, technology speed and processing power are scary. The world has become digitally empowered. In one week, we absorb more information than people in the 18th century absorbed in their entire lifetime. The latest technologies impact all business functions and show little respect for existing business models. New technologies are actually rewiring the way in which entire markets operate with unprecedented speed (Perkin and Abraham, 2017). This change is inevitable, not optional.

The paradox is that people and organisations are heavily lagging behind. Why do we still see office workers being overwhelmed with loads of paper when we have all this technology at hand, or better said, only a mouse click away?

Figure 1: Organisational change is slow and logarithmic (Perkin and Abraham, 2017).

The fact is we are struggling, the amount of information is overwhelming. For example, an average worker checks their mobile device 150 times per day (Deloitte Human Capital Trends, 2014). Mails, phone, apps... everything around us is constantly beeping, heavily interrupting our concentration and thus impacting productivity. It takes a lot of discipline to build the habits and lifestyle that allow our brains to function at their best. Furthermore, unlike technology, humans are very slow when it comes to change. Think about the last time you took a different road to your office than usual. Can't remember? So how can you expect that your average employee will dramatically change their mindset overnight just because you decided on a new, "we-need-to-think-differently" corporate strategy?

Nonetheless, technology provides a unique opportunity to shift our focus from basic tasks to more complex problem solving. While simple operations which require less than 5 seconds of thinking may soon be replaced by robots, a human touch of empathy, ethics and creativity probably never will be.

So, who will be behind the wheel? The future lies in the hands of leaders who quickly understand the scope and speed of global change and are flexible enough to adapt themselves and their organisations quickly. And it's not just about the intelligence; it has a lot to do with the ability to influence others who are not so advanced in understanding the world but realistically represent the majority in our companies. Traditional leadership models are changing; there is no longer a place for rigid, hierarchical organisations, instead courageous, yet humble leadership should step in. Basic work competencies, which are the key for efficient work will be changed - instead of technical abilities, social competencies and cross-functional cooperation abilities will prevail. Since automation will be responsible for millions of basic workplaces being lost, leaders who are able to sweep away the organisational drag and unlock their employee's potential, creativity and engaged problem-solving will take organisations to the next level.

Perhaps we could start with changing the basic, obsolete stuff such as asking our people to "switch on" at 8.00 and "switch off" at 16.00. That's something that machines do.

• Deloitte Human Capital Trends Report 2014 and 2015:
• Digitization on Boards - Amrop's 2016 Report:
• Garton, E. and Mankins, M. (2017): Time, Talent, Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag and Unleash Your Team's Productive Power. Boston, HBR Press.
• Perkin, N. and Abraham, P. (2017). Building the Agile Business Through Digital Transformation. New York, Kogan Page Ltd.
• World Economic Forum: Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
• World Economic Forum: The fourth industrial revolution is about people not just machines.


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