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Prepare now for the future of work

Just as the Industrial Revolution marked a transition from agricultural labor to mechanized manufacturing, the digital revolution will elevate the value of current jobs, while also creating new roles. That's according to an expert round-table discussion on the future of work moderated by Genpact's chief digital officer, Sanjay Srivastava, and featuring myself and two industry experts: Robert Laubacher, executive director and research scientist, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Laurence Collins, managing partner, Digiworkz.

What will the future of work look like?

Based on our conversation, the future of work will span two key areas: building operations (in the broad sense of the term) and running them. Specifically, the job of running operations is increasingly going to fall to machines. In certain areas, these machines can already do more than what is humanly possible. They will augment workers' capabilities, enabling people to focus on designing and building better products and services. This future calls for groups of people who can design, experiment, and build, and then readily move on to the next challenge.

For example, machine learning can make complex analytics much easier. In the past, people would spend days and weeks reviewing spreadsheets and performing statistical calculations. Now, machine learning can process multiple sources of data at greater speed and scale. This saves time, reduces running costs, and increases the demand for more analytical jobs.

Existing analytics teams – once responsible for the calculations themselves – can be trained for new work, like preparing and engineering data, aligning the machines' outputs to business goals, and overseeing new models and algorithms. Meanwhile, we will see organizations increasingly using “spot talent" markets to build, or at least supplement, staff for project teams, including designers, developers, data scientists, and computer programmers, as well as domain experts for specific industry or process applications.

Finding and fostering talent for the future

Right now, the focus is on artificial intelligence (AI) working alongside people to enhance their work. But analytics and AI can also help connect the right talent from connected ecosystems to specific needs only humans can fulfill, which is the focus of Robert Laubacher's work at MIT's Center for Collective Intelligence. Laurence Collins, with his startup Digiworkz, is already attempting to create a “zero-job-vacancy organization," by using combinations of tacit knowledge across the enterprise, matching it at the point of demand for particular tasks or projects, and then connecting that with external crowds, such as networks of past project alumni.

In this emerging world, traditional talent acquisition (i.e., a six-month hiring exercise where you write a job requisition, post it on a job board, and wait weeks for applicants) will no longer be acceptable – especially given the rapid pace at which required skills evolve. As Genpact is already going through the Genome re-skilling initiative, we must be able to prepare for the future ourselves, whether that be for digital transformation, or reframing how we think about talent.

Building on work done by MIT, Genome is focused on harnessing the collective intelligence of people who work together and leveraging existing experts within the organization to curate knowledge for others, thereby encouraging the flow of information and easier learning. With Genome, we are creating an adaptive workforce, able to acquire new skills and evolve as quickly as industries and technologies change.

For more on the future of work, and how Genpact's 90,000+ employees are testing new ideas, check out the full discussion here.

Journeys in transformation - Future of work