Workforce of the Future

In an exclusive interview with Paneesh Rao, Chief Human Resources Officer, L&T Technology Services, and Rohit Thakur, Human Resources Managing Director, India Geographic Unit, Accenturewe discussed the following:

  • What the Workforce of Future looks like
  • The top of the mind issues/priorities for key stakeholders
  • His experience with digitisation, AI & Robotics in HR

Read on to get his views on the above and whether India is ready for this transformation:

ET-Insights: What according to you, Workforce of Future look Like?

Paneesh: Technology is surely set to assume prime importance in the Workforce of future. New-age digital technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, HR analytics will play a critical role in the overall value chain. Concepts such as Robotic Automation Process are already taking shape in sectors ranging from manufacturing to retail. The industry demand for talent with adequate competency in leveraging such digital technologies is on a rise and digital reskilling is the need of the hour to take care of a long-term horizon.

Rohit: In today’s era of epic disruption, the workforce of the future will be dynamic, agile, multi-generational and nothing like it was in the previous decades. The evolution of intelligent technologies will create a new work order where humans and machines work as partners. Until now, digital technologies have been used to work in parallel with people to improve efficiencies but in automated isolation. As companies invest in AI systems that can sense, communicate, interpret and learn, we will witness a revolution in which intelligent technology will meet human ingenuity to create the future workforce. This in turn will unlock new sources of growth and innovation.

ET-Insights: When we look at the workforce of the future, what are top of the mind issues/priorities for key stakeholders – CEO, HR and employees?

Paneesh: In order to proactively work towards building an employable workforce that is future ready, it is of utmost importance to engage businesses and HR leaders to come on a common board. Key parameters to be considered include:

  • How quickly the future workforce can assimilate the culture of the organisation
  • Gearing systems towards an invisible workforce that does not require to physically meet to work together
  • Building technology-enabled connected platforms for multicultural and lingual teams
  • Seamless roll-out of operational drivers leading to higher employee engagement
  • Leveraging technology to enable skill building and competency enhancement
  • Integrating with educational institutions at the grass-root level for a readily employable workforce

Rohit: An alliance between humans and machines will usher in a new era of work and drive competitive advantage. To succeed, leaders must act swiftly to re-imagine work, pivot the workforce and scale up New Skilling. Transforming the organization for a future enabled by advanced technologies will require not just technology skilling, but also broader organizational changes, including redeploying talent, organizing for agility, and adapting leadership to the needs of the intelligent enterprise.

ET-Insights: What has been your experience with digitisation, AI & Robotics in HR? Is India ready for such a huge transformation?

Paneesh: The influence of technology in business ecosystem including in HR is ever increasing. For a deep rooted technology company such as ours, we perceive it as a natural extension of the technological innovations that we enable for our clients. It is but natural for us to derive benefits of digital technologies and the experience has been really enriching.

Indian companies are indeed embracing such transformative technologies on a rapid scale and are known to keep pace with their global counterparts on this. There are numerous success stories already executed by Indian companies on such transformation. It is certainly a giant leap by Indian companies as they embark on a path breaking journey to achieve newer business excellence on the HR front.

Rohit: We are already witnessing applied intelligence which includes AI, machine learning, and other intelligent technologies at work across the Indian economy, helping companies serve customers in new ways, raising efficiency, and tapping fresh sources of growth.

To truly harness this opportunity, we need to bring about a skills revolution in India. Key stakeholders including government departments, industry bodies, academia, non-profit organizations and corporates need to collaborate and ensure that the country’s workforce has the skills needed for the digital economy. According to our research, if the skill gap is not addressed, it could result in India forgoing as much as US$1.97 trillion in gross domestic product (GDP) growth promised by investment in intelligent technologies over the next decade. We’re implementing advanced technologies like AI in our internal processes across the HR function. For example, we have developed a digital personal assistant, or chatbot, named DiPA to improve the experience of employees, who had to work through a maze of websites and services to find human resources-related information. AI helped simplify the HR experience and made it more modern and digital an HR experience suited for an employee base dominated by Generation Y and Z workers. Whether an employee is in the office or on the go, DiPA is available 24/7 in India. It has become a digital personal advisor for new hires, providing relevant information as they acclimate to Accenture.

As advanced technologies permeate, it is important that organizations re-invest the saving gained from automation and intelligent tech into their people. For example, at Accenture we put 60 percent of the money saved from automation and AI back into training programs for our people, spending nearly $1 billion in training and development last year to augment our people’s skills, and in turn creating greater client value.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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