The future of work: Embracing technology for better experiences

The Adobe Asia Workforce Impact 2019 study estimates that over the next 10 years, 18% of operations jobs such as accounting and general office work face a high risk of disruption due to automation. More specifically, repetitive jobs and low-skilled labour that involve data will be hit the hardest.

On the other hand, jobs that are harder to replicate, such as those in the creative and marketing spheres will be least impacted by automation. Generally, soft skills such as creativity and leadership are harder for technology to imitate than autonomous work processes.  

As such, Individuals employed for their skills in these areas are expected to enjoy more interesting work as technology augments their activities. In other words, technology will take over the repetitive aspects of their jobs, enabling them to work more efficiently and take on higher level work. The future is one of creative people working in collaboration with robots, not in competition.

The Role of Augmented Intelligence

Adobe Creativity and Technology in The Age of AI study found that 74% of creative professionals spend most of their time on tedious tasks that do not require them to employ their creativity. Augmented Intelligence (AI) helps to automate the mundane work that stands in the way of them working efficiently, thereby giving creators the capacity to do what they are inherently good at and what they are valued for: creative thinking!

Moreover, more than 75% of creators noted that their work has become more complex over the past few years. This illuminates a collective desire to venture into new creative realms, both from clients who seek fresh new ideas and creators who need the tools that allow them to deliver those ideas. AI and machine learning can significantly enhance the working experience and make high-quality results possible.

Similarly, in the area of operations, document processes can be streamlined with AI which not only increases productivity but also allows for better customer experiences. With AI, enterprises are equipped with automated reminders that can be sent out when a deadline is approaching or has passed, ensuring workflows don’t fall through the cracks and in turn speeding up document processes. Speedier workflows and faster turnaround times enable businesses to target opportunities faster and be more responsive to client needs.

Preparing the Schools

According to the World Economic Forum, 65% of children entering primary school today, will work in jobs that don’t even exist yet. As a result, most of the content taught in schools today will be outdated by tomorrow.

We are moving from a knowledge economy to a skills economy. Technology has provided almost unlimited access to knowledge, but what people and businesses are demanding from educational institutions is students with the ability to effectively use that knowledge in a practical context.

Rather than a focus on content, schools should provide a forum for students to practice creative problem solving. This takes time and patience as skills like problem solving need to be developed, not trained. Education is no longer something we seek while we are young and carries us into a life-long career. Rather, learning is something that people will pursue continually throughout their careers.

In a world of continuous learning, we are moving towards micro-credentials where students no longer transition to alumni but remain students for life. To cater to this, educational institutions should provide shorter, bite-size, micro-credential courses rather than the current three or four-year course model. This breaks down courses into manageable lengths that allow busy workers to enlist in and out of courses based on the demands of their situation. This ultimately makes life-long learning more achievable for everyone.

The Adobe Asia Workforce Impact 2019 study speculates that some of the Core Future Capabilities that employees will require are critical thinking, cultural and social intelligence, innovation, and entrepreneurship. These capabilities are least likely to be replicated by technology, thus making them the most important skills to cultivate for future employability.

Preparing the Workforce

To remain relevant and employable, individuals need to adopt a mindset of continuous learning and strive to skill and reskill over the course of their careers. Employers should be key enablers of this by providing skills enablement initiatives and migrating impacted employees to new and growing areas.

It is becoming increasingly easy for employers to do so, by providing teams with reasonably priced or even free online resources and outlets to attain micro-credentials. Furthermore, technology makes learning more efficient and effective through personalization. This way, employees are empowered to take control of their careers and add more value to the company.

Critical Mass of Automation

Workplace disruption isn’t something over the horizon. Digital transformation has always been in the limelight, and organizations are eager to get on board if they haven’t already. According to The Pathways to Digital Enablement Study, the proportion of work delivered through automation has more than doubled over the last three years and is expected to grow to 34% in Asia Pacific in the next three years.

An unsurprising notion since Adobe’s Future of Work APAC study found that young people entering the workforce are already having a huge impact on the way their older colleagues work. In Southeast Asia, the younger generation are impacting and disrupting the workplace most obviously through the extensive use of social media, increased focus on creative thinking and innovative projects, and the creation of more open-minded and diverse work environments. These are positive changes worth celebrating.