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Many worry that the growth of digital transformation and AI will lead to machines and robots replacing human workers and see this advancement in technology as a threat, rather than as an opportunity to better ourselves.

PWC reports on AI shows that 67% of executives surveyed say the technology will help humans and machines work together, and to be stronger using both artificial and human intelligence.

Many industries, such as healthcare, automotive, financial services, transportation and logistics, technology, media and communications, retail and consumer, energy, and manufacturing, will set practical AI to work. Its potential will allow the freeing up of time, a boost to quality, and increase personalisation. 

It is in response to this that ESCP Europe's London Campus hosted a panel discussion on 9th May on ‘The Future of Work’. Moderator Dr Terence Tse, ESCP Europe Professor and Academic Director of the newly launched Master in Digital Transformation Management and Leadership was joined by guests speakers Laurence Hollobon, Europe HR Lead at BEL Group and ESCP Europe Alumna; Luke Fisher, CEO and Founder of Mo; and Séverine Trouillet, Global Affairs Director, EURONORTH at Dassault Systèmes

With the arrival of emerging technologies, the world of employment will never be the same again. Today's employers are challenged to recruit and retain a workforce that can enable the nature of this transformation. How can companies adapt to offer what workers want?

Cultural Transformation
“Culture can shape the performance of an organisation. You need to determine your company values, understand how technology fits within those values, and then align your workforce. Bel Group has embarked on a cultural transformation process as the demands from both our customers and employees have changed. Our talent want career opportunities; to learn more about digital transformation and how this is going to lead to more effective operations; to get more feedback from line managers; and to evolve internationally,” said Laurence Hollobon.

Diversity
“Digital transformation is less about technology and more about people. Dassault Systèmes embraces diverse backgrounds as supports customers transforming the world for the better and fostering sustainable innovations. Organisations need to increase talent diversity: people with different backgrounds will make stronger teams, and it has been proven that diverse teams deliver stronger results. Bringing more women into technology and leadership roles will enhance the economy as a whole, hence diversity plays a key role,” said Séverine Trouillet.

Prof. Terence Tse explained how diversity helped Netflix to improve its top-secret recommendation system by 10% in 2011. The company decided to run a competition, and the first teams that came in were very homogeneous; after several attempts they were not able to accomplish the task. The breakthrough came when diversity was put in place across the teams. People with different backgrounds look at things from different perspectives, they have different preferences. At this point Netflix started passing the 10% threshold, proving that diversity is critical. 

Technology
Séverine mentioned that, “Platforms are the infrastructure of the 21st century. People will have to work more collaboratively across continents, across cultures, and will have to be able to have that flexible thinking. Also, workforces will evolve and be more mobile and flexible than ever. So in the future the majority of talents will have two employers rather than one.”

This brings changes in terms of:

  • Employer loyalty and the implication for the intellectual capital of a company
  • How invested you are
  • How companies treat talent

Companies will need to learn how to manage these pools of talent rather than thinking that employees will be there for the rest of their life. Businesses will have to manage, engage and train the workforce differently, added Séverine.

Remote work
“People are able to work remotely, and it enables them to work with flexibility and freedom. What is lacking is the link and the bonding with colleagues. Businesses need to create the right conditions for people to be able to work together; to share elements of value or purpose. Learning to remotely create close interpersonal links is a challenge for many organisations. The best performing teams are those who share a common purpose, efforts, and display resilience together,” said Laurence.

Creativity
“The key is for companies and students to anticipate tomorrow’s workplace. The jobs that we had in the past will no longer exist in the future. We believe that careers will be richer and jobs will be more creative, because talent won’t have to do repetitive work that can be done through automation. Emotional intelligence will be more important than actual knowledge. Being able to work on platforms and in teams will become the most important skills in the future. Talent will need to have a creative mindset and resilience, but not necessarily be taught in the traditional way of teaching and project-based learning,” said Séverine.

Soft Skills
During his time at RBS, Luke Fisher learnt that having strong soft skills and a well-balanced relationship with work are vital. For sectors where the labour market is tight, employer branding is crucial and its culture becomes really important, especially when it comes to making work choices. Employees will ask what are the development opportunities in the organisation? What is the cultural life?

Laurence added that, “Soft skills are crucial: these are the robust elements to thrive in a career path. Businesses map what the potential of their work force is. Therefore, talent needs to be curious, look for different elements and learn.”

What does the future hold and how we can keep ahead of the curve?
In 2030, 85% of current students in higher education will have jobs that haven’t been invented yet. This is a striking figure, and this is why academic institutions, businesses and students need to work closer and co-create the future workforce. ESCP Europe’s approach is fantastic: it brings together companies and students in providing a hands-on experience, and this is a very strong asset,” said Séverine.

She also added that employees need to constantly learn, and platforms will play a key role in this as they will be certified on a continuous basis. This has already become habit in Dassault Systèmes. If people don’t get used to it, they will have difficulties to become or remain employable. 

Empowering young talent
If the talent of the future is to overcome the issues that arise in the digital age, they must be challenged to successfully merge technology and management - requirements that are crucial for businesses and organisations. Find out how ESCP Europe and its full-time MSc in Digital Transformation Management & Leadership can equip you with the tools you’ll need! Learn more about the programme: escpeurope.eu/midital 

For more experienced professionals, we offer the Executive Master in Manufacturing Automation & Digital Transformation: escpeurope.eu/emma

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