Never mind success, business survival for even the biggest, most powerful firms will depend on hiring forward-looking innovators, an executive from one of the largest technology companies in the world said at the Arabian Business Forum on Monday.
Technology is advancing at a pace never seen before, profoundly altering the way humans live and work. Rapid transformation in the digital era are poised to disrupt and destroy sectors, and create new ones, impacting jobs across the globe. A 2017 report by the McKinsey Global Institute predicted that as many as 800 million jobs worldwide could be lost just to automation.
Global organisational consulting firm Korn Ferry said in a report titled 'The Future of Work: People vs Tech' that 58 percent of international business leaders say they believe that humans will be “irrelevant in the future”. Yet for each dollar, humans generate $11.39 to global GDP and a global total of $1.215 trillion in GDP is the direct result of human action.
As machines continue to cut out jobs, Mohammed Amin, senior vice president, Middle East Africa and Turkey, Dell EMC, told the forum that employers in the future will care most about how “innovative” a candidate is so that they can foresee and creatively adapt to new business models.
“Because when machines are next to us, they will take all the jobs that take our time (and) they will allow us to unleash our ideas more and more,” he said. “Companies are not hiring the standard engineer anymore. It will be about how innovative you are and do you have new ideas?”
Anchored to the global economy, the Dell exec said more than half of the world's businesses are unsure of how their models will evolve with new age technologies.
“It’s hilarious to ask any business (today) how will your business model look like in the next 5 years... 52% don’t know how it will look like.”
Pointing to the downfall of Nokia as an example, the once most dominant force in the wireless world, Amin said keeping pace with digital transformation is crucial to staying in business.
He explained: “So let me ask everybody a question, the top 500 fortune companies of 1960, how many of them are still here today? Almost none. Nokia, you remember that? At a certain time, its market cap was $80 billion. It was sold for $4 billion after a few years later. It was one of the first companies who were offered the patent for the smart phone, which they refused. They saw the future very wrong.”
Amin said even in present times, despite noteworthy examples like the mobile phone pioneer to learn from, businesses are still not prepared to cope with the fast-paced realities of the new era.
“It happens today too,” he insisted. “I see it with the large enterprises. They’re very confused when it comes to digital transformation.”
Despite innovation increasingly being seen as integral to survival, so far, it remains relatively difficult to achieve. The key challenge will be finding those innovation-friendly the skill sets. Even just in the UAE, the Korn Ferry report said, by 2030, the country is likely to experience a skilled labour gap worth $50 billion, making up 5 percent of the economy.
“It’s going to be hard to manage,” Amin said. If you look at the challenge for CEOs, the challenge it human resources. People think how will jobs disappear, but we will create new jobs with different profiles around innovations.”
He added: “By 2030, 85% of the job market, we won’t know what it will be.”
The Dell boss admitted that he didn't have all the answers just yet either.
“I’m optimistic, but worried as well, because all (that) we’ve seen 15 years ago in scientific movies is happening now,” he said. “Cars are flying... and with advanced medicine, we will all be in good shape and live longer.... so what will differentiate the job market and who will have jobs? Young people or old people? This will stimulate the economy very differently.”
He added: “So if you have a son or daughter going to university right now, and asking what should they study, any advice you give will be bad advice.”
Looking back at the role of the mobile phone in changing the world, Amin said he believed the same would become true with Artificial Intelligence (AI).
“We expect that in the next few years, machines will be next to us, and AI will take over,” he predicted. “Think about autonomous cars. You sit in the back and robots drive your car and are taking decisions that could threaten your lives.”
In fact, Amin revealed, Dell EMC is working on a major project around autonomous vehicles with Dubai immigration.
“If you’re a business or first class passenger, you’re going to have an autonomous car pick you up, without a driver, coming to your house, and while you’re in car, it will clear your immigration. So all you have to do is get on the airplane. And this is happening right now in Dubai. Things are changing in a very fast way.”
Amin added that autonomous planes aren't too far away from reality either. “We're going to have autopilot in a few years, where the pilot is not in cabin, and you feel comfortable with a machine,” he said. “It’s scary. But in the new aircrafts now, the pilot's job is very minimal. He's just watching.”
But with all this unprecedented development, he said companies must remain focused on using the power of technology for good.
“How will technology make life better? We have to positively affect human progress,” he said.
Sharing Dell's example, he added: “One thing that inspired me a lot and that we're working on right now is digital glasses, which will give sight back to blind people. So blind people will see a digital image. Can you imagine the enhancement of their lives?”For all the latest tech news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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