Digital technology is going deep into the heart of our world—its economies and societies. Big data, analytics, artificial intelligence, robotics, and cognitive computing are creating a new industrial revolution that impacts all societal domains. For some organizations, by the time they have woken up to this new wave, it’s too late and their businesses have evaporated.
In the middle of all this change, as always, is opus populus—loosely translated from Latin as “the working people.” Organizations must put as much thought and effort into preparing them for change as they do into implementing and capitalizing on new technologies and processes.
All the fuss over how this digital revolution will quickly and exponentially expand our capabilities—in both personal and professional contexts—has drawn our attention away from those who do the work, the people, who are perhaps the most critical element in this revolution. The questions we need to be asking now are what does this “new wave” mean for employee adoption, in its broadest context, and how can we ensure behavior and corporate culture keep pace with technological change?
To begin finding answers to these questions, start by looking to the past. Humans charged with delivering products have always survived disruption, no matter the industry. “Survived” is a key term. In previous times of change, disruption was handled as it happened, if at all. The impacts to society were often misunderstood, minimized or not realized until years later. Survival—making it up as you go along, winging it—may have been the only real choice in the past, but it’s not the only one today. We have the luxury of hindsight, experience and deep knowledge.
All the fuss over how this digital revolution will quickly and exponentially expand our capabilities has drawn our attention away from those who do the work, the people, who are perhaps the most critical element in this revolution.
As we enter this new revolution, we have a clearer idea of how work will change and a deeper understanding of human nature. We know that change is unsettling, even to the most grounded and confident people. We recognize that work approaches and learning styles vary from person to person, independent of their generational or other classifications. Above all, we understand that the current pace of technological change—and the larger revolution it signals—requires a thoroughly new, human-centric approach.
If, in earlier days, we minimized—or ignored outright—the impact great change had on people, it’s time we did something different.