The Future is now – how to be prepared

Just a few days ago my 21 year old son asked me one of these questions that really made me think twice before answering. He had been following some of the discussion from Davos about the future  and Digital Transformation and simply asked: “Mom, with all the innovations happening within technology right now, how do one prepare in the best possible way for the future?”

The human future depends on the skills one gathers in collaborating with machines – and with one another. New interfaces and collaboration-tools are half of the story.

Far from an easy question to answer, but one that most business leaders I meet with are thinking about as well. The technologies we see emerging demand new needs and skills within the workforce, and while we may not know what all these are – collaboration, adaptability and agility will for sure be key. A recent study we conducted at Dell EMC with the Institute for the Future (IFTF) suggests that 85% of jobs to be mastered in 2030 have not even been invented, and yet organizations will have to prepare themselves to this future.

With this in mind, the emphasis is quickly focusing on fast, intuitive learning, or in other words learning in-the-moment, rather than relying on the old method of sorting through our internal database of past experience on which to base a decision. In tomorrow’s workplace, it won’t be so important WHAT you have already learned, but how quickly CAN you learn?

Science Fiction becoming Science Facts

Over generations we have adapted technology more and more – but now more than ever before we are at a time of exciting collaboration between man and machine, a time where we learn from one another, support one another, and enable one another to achieve our full potential. We are for the first time in history on the verge of creating a true human/machine partnership.

What was only dreamed of just a decade ago is now becoming possible thanks to new advances in areas as augmented, artificial and virtual reality, coupled with the ever-strengthening bridge between humans and machines built by the Internet of Things. Our interconnectivity grows stronger as we learn to communicate in each other’s language, and not only are both parties already learning FROM each other, we have begun to think LIKE each other as well. In the Realizing 2030 study (conducted by Dell EMC and Vanson Bourne) 82% of all business leaders* say that workforce and machines will work together as integrated teams in 5 years from now.

Real, Virtual – designing our future

This new partnership is certainly a two-way street. The more technology we create, the more we see new possibilities to benefit society down the road, and thus, the more we come to rely on technology to get us there. Our co-dependence on the machines we’ve created is rapidly transforming our expectations for the way we live and work.

My time at Dell EMC has given me a front-row seat to watch as the line between human and machine, between what is real and what is virtual, begins to blur. Developments in augmented and mixed reality enable workers in such different fields as manufacturing and bioscience to add digital layers on top of physical foundations, keeping the user connected and informed while freeing up the hands. 3D imaging has taken the scientific art of medical diagnosis to a whole new level, and facial recognition is making the streets of our smart cities ever-safer, just to name a few examples. Rather than fear technology’s power, as some would warn, our goal should be to envision the world we’d like to live in – in partnership with the machine – and then work to create it together.

These days, wherever I travel in my region I see proof of how technology transforms and reshapes our world and creates vast new possibilities for human achievement. Our cities, homes and cars, our banking, business and health care have all rapidly evolved as a result of many generations of mutually beneficial relationship with technology.

Digital Transformation is without exception a key topic in each and every one of my customer meetings – regardless of industry or country – and it is encouraging to see how digital transformation reshapes our world and creates vast new possibilities for human achievement. Digital transformation touches everything we do. We are always connected, always on the go, and always processing information.

Partnering for the Future

To make the most of the potential behind the human/machine partnership, organizations will need to transform their workforce, their goals and their infrastructure to reflect this more fluid, fast-paced new environment. Only 26% of all the surveyed CxO’s believe their organization have good collaborations between human and machines today. Yet they are convinced about the need to transform, and to do it quickly. 93% state they are battling some form of barrier to become a digital business – and workforce transformation being ones of the most critical ones.

We as humans are going to have to develop the necessary skills to be useful in the future world of work. This means continuing to better understand what technology needs from us to be at its most efficient, and how its strengths can be applied to the task at hand – or maybe even learn to think more like machines.

With digital disruption bringing so much change to our lives, rather than focus on the resulting chaos as a challenge to overcome, we should see the potential of emerging technologies as an exciting opportunity to improve our machines, ourselves and our society. Embrace the collaboration with machines. After all, that is what effective partnerships are all about.

Read the full Realizing 2030 study to learn more.

Anja Monrad, Senior Vice President & General Manager at Dell EMC, CEE
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About the Author: Anja Monrad

Senior Vice President & General Manager at Dell EMC, CEE Anja has more than 20 years of international leadership experience. Proven track record of creating top line growth, increasing effectiveness, improving efficiency and scaling cost. She thrives with strategic as well as transformational challenges, and successfully lead organizations through change, while ensuring strong engagement and focus of key deliverables. Specialties: Marketing/CRM/Social Media, Global Leadership, Change management, Outsourcing, Globalization, Process optimization