With increasing advancements in digital technology and automation, the workforce is changing at an increasingly rapid pace. What will this digital transformation look like and how will it impact the workforce of today.
Asia has a workforce problem. The workforce is ageing rapidly, especially in countries such as Japan. Singapore and South Korea also face a rapidly ageing workforce. Whilst countries such as Indonesia and China have a plentiful supply of labour but with the increasing capabilities of automation, how will that ‘advantage’ impact their economy.
On the one hand, automation offers a solution to a rapidly ageing workforce, but on the other hand, it offers a complex societal problem to those with a plentiful supply of workers.
Singapore is investing heavily is raising its locally born population on the one hand, but it is also investing significantly in automation. Singapore’s story is one of scarcity. Where the country prides itself on how far it has come in such as short space of time, with only one resource: Its people. Its mantra has always been that regardless of your background or age has something meaningful to contribute to the economy and society at large.
Governments need to find a way to leverage every individual to their fullest potential with automation as a tool to that aim. This has also become a focal point for many organisations in the industrial automation arena. For instance, at the 2017 edition of the Emerson Global Users Exchange event, there was a clear focus on resources that will enable manufacturers to drive greater business performance in the future: people. Specifically, the ‘digital workforce.’
“The past 30 years have brought us fantastic advances in the manufacturing sector, including greater operating efficiencies enabled by automation,” said Mike Train, executive president, Emerson Automation Solutions. “But the incremental benefits gained are diminishing. The pressure is on industry leaders to take the next step to the game-changing performance made possible by digitally empowering the workforce.”
Five Digital Competencies
By analysing the organisational behaviours of Top Quartile industry performers – those in the top 25 percent of performance among their peers – Emerson has identified five essential competencies as critical to realise the value of ‘digital transformation:’
- Automated Workflow: Eliminate repetitive tasks and streamline standard operations to focus personnel on exceptions and other opportunities that require human intervention.
- Decision Support: Leverage analytics and embedded expertise to provide actionable insights that reduce complexity and enable higher quality, faster decision-making.
- Workforce Upskilling: Identify approaches that empower workers to acquire knowledge or experience faster and more effectively, to support higher-level and collaborative decision-making.
- Mobility: Provide secure, on-demand access to information and expertise regardless of location, enabling collaborative workflows.
- Change Management: Combine strategies, processes, tools and expertise that, in the right combination, simplify and accelerate the institutionalisation of operational best practices.
While these themes are not necessarily new, Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) innovations are bringing unprecedented opportunities to evolve performance in each area of organisational transformations. To make these opportunities attainable, Emerson plans on expanding its Plantweb digital ecosystem with a wide range of new digital technologies and services, including a consulting practice with the expertise, methodologies and personnel to bring predictable success to digital transformation.
“By mastering these competencies, manufacturing organisations can fully leverage the digital technologies of today and those just around the corner,” continued Mr Train. “Emerson uses the organisational insights we gain through customer collaboration to focus our product and service portfolio development in areas that create bottom-line impact.”
In a 2017 study conducted by Industry Week and Emerson, manufacturing leaders from a variety of industries confirmed the Industrial IoT will bring new possibilities fueled by increased real-time information, a more tightly connected enterprise and improved analytical tools. However, the group consistently pointed to personnel as the most important factor for success. Namely, the need for companies to adopt effective change management methodologies to drive an increased focus on education and upskilling along with improved organisational workflows to effectively leverage their technology investments.
“There is an increasing number of reports suggesting that technology is displacing manufacturing jobs, yet they routinely miss the big picture,” said Mr Train. “History has taught us time and again that, while technology can unsettle the current or traditional nature of work, disruption consistently brings new opportunities and net employment growth, not loss.”
Success Across A Digital Landscape
During the 2017 Emerson Global Users Exchange event, held in Minneapolis, Emerson introduced significant enhancements to its Plantweb digital ecosystem portfolio, with new technologies and services targeting workforce productivity and organisational effectiveness. To bring the ideas to life, the company will help industry leaders see the near-future of how a digitally enhanced workforce behaves differently through its ‘Digital Workforce Experience,’ an immersive experiential environment demonstrating how new and emerging technologies are fundamentally transforming organisations by helping them accelerate, institutionalise, and sustain Top Quartile behaviours.
“Companies and employees who embrace the rapidly transforming digital landscape stand to achieve the greatest success,” said Mr Train. “But everyone has skin in the game. Employers need to provide education and upskilling opportunities, and employees need the confidence and commitment to learn new skills and competencies to manage their careers into the information age.”
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