Are Employees Indomitable Even in the New Age of Industrial Revolution?
I remember reading a lot for long now about the three/four critical components of a business. The three are People, Product, Process while the fourth one is often the Price. And so today I am interested in one of the P’s. How does the employee (people) measure in the 21st business environment?
By now we must have heard about the fourth and fifth industrial revolution which among other technologies is harnessing the power of ICT’s such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, 3D printing among others of which big data is the pillar.
And because things such as robotics are (or have already) poised to take over the work environment, then the place of the employee lies in jeopardy. Because of the reproducibility and consistence in the product or output when a machine is employed, a lot of people believe that the last nail on the coffin is getting hammered every single day.
I guess that this development might have pushed one guy to sit down and envision the industry of the future. Because machines could have taken over everything, according to him, the factory of the future thus will only have a dog and one worker.
The dog will be there to guard the worker from touching the machine, and the worker will be there to feed the dog. This mutual relationship will mean one thing only, the whole system of the future will be self-sustaining to a great point. So where does the employee lie in the whole mix?
Kortmann and his associates in their 2014 paper noted that for companies to maintain profitability, leaders must engage their employees hard. In an earlier paper (2012), authored by Hill and Birknishaw, they had observed that organizations became harder to adapt to change if they limited their focus to the existing products and processes only.
This is a tipping point in the business world since the turn of the century when the information age dawned. Businesses were slow to warm up to the new thing called the internet but they were willing to expand and entrepreneurship had become a crucial component of most growing economies.
This meant one thing, more people were getting employed and there was a spread of wealth among the masses. Businesses now had to do everything to make sure that the employees became more productive and effective in their work.
As the workers became more specialized, then it translated into the fact that the people became indispensable because without them the businesses would not do well in specialized sections. Thus, the employees became an integral part of the business. In the business mix, they featured there a lot as the most important of P’s – People.
Here we are now and with a future that continually automates functions of the business especially such works that took in masses of people. One fact is to stand, that today’s businesses are quickly adapting to changing their products and processes at the slightest new technology in the market perhaps after learning from Hill and Birknishaw’s research.
For fact, the whole people chain cannot get phased out so to say. We are having new technologies which need technical maintenance and repairs of which need people to do. Another aspect critical to business success in this age is the aspect of innovation.
In as much as the machines can take over the factory floor, people are needed to come up with innovative and cutting age solutions for continued adaptation. That is the work of people.
So, in as much as we may think that the future doesn’t want the employee, truth is that it does. What will happen is that a lot of work will change and new roles will be created at the same time old ones will be getting phased out.
In all this, the employee will have to learn to adapt to changing environment and job description. That is the only survival the people will have. Employees cannot in any way say they are indomitable or indispensable in this age when information moves at the speed or even higher than that of light.
The indispensable worker will be the one who is dynamic and continually adapting to the ever changing world that is also adapting to new needs at every dawn of day. Should one not be willing to adapt to that change, they risk being found irrelevant and thus be dispensed.
So, if you are a computer scientist, and you are relevant today, continue learning and practicing new programming languages. Keep learning ways in which the current technologies can be improved and bettered to ensure business continuity.
This means that when the business will demand a change, you will be steps ahead and as such be so much sought after. The same is to be said of other businesses. Simply to say, you will be directing the business change. Tell me why you can’t you be indomitable and indispensable then.