Around the world, technology is changing the way we work. Emerging trends across diverse sectors, from financial services to retail, range from the more prosaic (digital marketing) to borderline science fiction (3D printing). How does this impact the skills needed in this fast-evolving landscape?
Having a conversation about the impact of technology today is difficult without it quickly devolving into an assortment of clichés packaged into the newest management-speak. Almost every organization is “undergoing a technology transformation” or “going digital.” As pervasive as these trends seem to be, oftentimes there is a lack of understanding of these terms beyond buzzwords.
So what are the critical skills organizations and individuals should focus on given these sweeping changes to the way we work? The answer is understandably complex and depends on industry, geography and other variables. The World Economic Forum’s 2016 The Future of Jobs report cites core work-related skills such as complex problem solving, active learning and cognitive flexibility as increasingly important to all sectors in the near future. These skills are even more critical in emerging markets, where the evolution of technology impacts jobs faster than in more developed economies.
We see this view reinforced in our work with government agencies across countries in Asia. When identifying critical skills at an industry-wide level, ongoing learning, problem solving and creativity emerge across almost all industries, whether in “high-tech” industries like telecommunications or “traditional” sectors like manufacturing.
Not surprisingly, the other skill that comes up across industries is information and communications technology (ICT) or digital literacy – using digital technology, communications tools and networks to access, manage, integrate, evaluate and create information4. With the “Internet of Things” (IoT) having a major impact on consumers (think sensors that monitor your heart rate) and industry (sensors that monitor and predict performance of industrial equipment), seemingly traditional businesses are thinking about data architecture and NarrowBand IoT.