We humans have an inherent tendency to pine for the past. In assuming that “things were better when…”, we often miss the strides made by mankind in almost every aspect of our existence. A decade ago, the smartphone revolution was in its infancy; the efficacy of cloud computing was a whispered dream; and artificial intelligence was a risible gimmick, only practical for the largest companies with the biggest budgets.
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Today, many of our workplaces are awash with digital transformation. Millennials and their Generation-Z successors live their lives on their smartphones. The intelligent cloud sits at the centre of IT infrastructures in companies great and small, made intelligent by the same AI that was out of reach before. Hundreds of thousands of firms across the Arab Gulf region now realise digital transformation is not optional.
The power to engage customers is critical in increasingly competitive marketplaces. The chance to optimise operations must be seized, in an effort to control and reduce costs. And the reinvention of business models could mean the difference between leading and leaving the market. Hey, what about jobs?
Despite these leaps, there are some who still wistfully dream of the past. We are, after all, navigating the Fourth Industrial revolution. And industrial revolutions destroy jobs, right? Yes, but history tells us they create more jobs than they destroy. Indeed, one of the pillars of digital transformation is the empowerment of employees. And automation is a partner in this process.
In the modern workplace, employees are empowered. Smart apps read emails on their behalf and even answer some of them. They are informed by their smartphones of their schedule for the day and how best to commute to avoid traffic. Advanced analytics tools help them understand wasteful bottlenecks in their daily activities and enable them to perform better. They are turbo-charged to make smarter decisions, boost productivity, develop new ideas, enhance customer services and delivery, and improve the overall business – all in the absence of demoralising micromanagement.
Even chatbots, seen as the quintessential example of job-threatening AI, can empower the workforce as never before. Apart from eliminating the burdens of repetitive tasks, their benefits include consistency in customer experience and information received; the ability to adopt new messaging platforms quickly and cost-effectively; and flexibility in marketing options.[…]