The rapid integration of powerful technologies such as robotics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) into our lives is both thrilling and unsettling. But while the shift to automation has generated animated discussions about its potential to either displace human jobs or solve the world’s problems, leaders can find real opportunity by examining the intersection of digital technologies and human capabilities.
By forming human-machine partnerships, we can create a future of work that makes the most of complementary strengths—the emotional intelligence of humans and the efficiency of machine learning.
To reap the rewards of these human-machine partnerships over the next 10-15 years, business leaders should look for and cultivate the following professional and digital literacy skills in their employees.
1. Contextualized intelligence
By 2030, machines will still not match human intuition, judgment, and empathy. As automation takes hold, these soft skills will be just as important, if not more, than they are today. After all, only human workers can provide a nuanced understanding of culture, society, business, and people.
To cultivate these soft skills in the workplace, businesses can make them a prominent feature of company culture, encouraging discussions on the value of collaboration, empathy, problem solving, and self-reflection.
Furthermore, as AI becomes more pervasive, information will become even more attainable than it is today. Contextualized intelligence and the ability to qualify this information will become increasingly important as more outputs are produced by algorithms. For example, in personnel management, while an algorithmic program may select and assign workers to various teams based on their skills and expertise, a human manager is best suited to assess the impact of individual personalities on the dynamics of the team.
2. In-the-moment learning
Advancements in digital technology and automation are changing the way people work so rapidly that, by 2030, the roles they perform in their careers will likely be markedly different from the topics they studied in formal education. It is for this reason that an employee’s ability to gain new knowledge through in-the-moment learning will be valued higher than the knowledge he or she originally brought to the table.
Partnering with machines will provide a fresh means to learn while on the job. Just look at developments in augmented reality (AR). In the AR of the future, as workers begin an unfamiliar task, information will displayed across their field of vision, teaching them what they need to know as they need it. The most valuable personnel of the future will be able to both absorb and apply that new information, making it possible for employees to continuously take on new and unfamiliar tasks.
3. Personal brand cultivation
Maintaining a work-friendly online persona is already the norm for many professionals, but as employers begin to move toward searching for and hiring workers on a task-based basis, it will become a necessity to present a searchable and favorable digital identity.
From the employer’s perspective, employees’ online social personas can be extremely valuable. Cheryl and Mark Burgess, authors of The Social Employee, told Forbes that according to their research, brand messages reach 561 percent further when shared by employees than when they are shared by official brand social channels. They are also re-shared 24 times as often.
Savvy companies of 2030 will take advantage ofemployees’ personal brands and encourage employees to maintain and utilize their professional, social profiles as part of their employee skill set.
4. Automation literacy
Contradictory to the hype of automation taking over jobs, savvy employees will be able to adapt to and integrate automation tools into their every day work and home lives, saving time by off-loading simple tasks.
What will this look like? AI assistants will be able to do things like monitor elderly parents, order their medicine, and notify their children and other caretakers if something is amiss. Driverless cars have the potential to make commute time more productive for workers, and health-tracking devices can monitor food and drink intake, exercise, and chronic health conditions to help individuals stay alert and focused.
By becoming more familiar with these automation processes—simplifying life’s distractions—the employees of 2030 will be able to give their best, most relevant self, to the most important issues at hand.
5. Entrepreneurial mindset
As robotics and artificial intelligence take over more predictable tasks, the employees working alongside these technologies will need to take charge when unforeseen problems arise. In the same vein, employees will be expected to use AI tools as a way to innovate and reform company products and procedures. The entrepreneurial skills of creativity, agility, and resourcefulness will be more valuable than ever.
To foster an entrepreneurial mindset, businesses can take cues from John Spencer, an author whose research has helped teachers develop it in students. According to Spencer, to encourage creative thinking, it is (somewhat counter-intuitively) important to start with structure, such as through the hands-on approach of design thinking. Additionally, Spencer recommends allowing workers to pursue projects they are passionate about, inspiring them to become truly entrepreneurial employees.
By 2030, forward-looking leaders who have invested in building these employee skills will find themselves with teams able to meld the best parts of the human mind and spirit with the most efficient elements of future technology.