Gartner’s Peter Sondergaard on Technology’s Future in the Workplace

Gartner’s Peter Sondergaard on Technology’s Future in the Workplace

The 2018 World Economic Forum, recently concluded in Davos, Switzerland, brought together political, business, and cultural leaders from around the globe to discuss the future of the global economy and its foremost institutions. Gartner EVP Peter Sondergaard was on hand to take in the events and speak with influencers at the forum, where he observed a few key themes in discussions of the future of the workplace: The increasingly digital nature of business, the rise of artificial intelligence, and the impact technology can have on improving diversity and inclusion.

“It became abundantly clear that organizations have reached the point at which the digital workplace must be driven by both CIOs and heads of HR,” Sondergaard explained. This doesn’t mean technology will eliminate the need for people, just that employees will need to work in different ways and companies will need to offer guidance on how to do that. “Such changes will require new models of learning and development,” he continued, “as well as the creation of hybrid workplaces that combine technology and information to accommodate a mix of employees.”

Certainly, we have seen a wide range of technologies promise to reshape how the people and processes of the workplace operate, but artificial intelligence is the driving force behind the most groundbreaking offerings. It’s powering Google Jobs, wearable tech, analytical tools, and voice-activated tech such as Amazon’s Alexa, as well as the automation of processes from candidate sourcing to performance management. As a result, demand for AI talent has skyrocketed as technology providers are scrambling to keep up with the rapid rate of change.

While the rise of AI has fueled fears of the potential for a massive loss of jobs, Sondergaard is confident that AI should ultimately create jobs if deployed properly. “As was true of the Industrial Revolution,” he also pointed out, “technological advances as a result of AI will spur job creation. In 2020, AI will create 2.3 million jobs, while eliminating 1.8 million — a net growth of half a million new positions. Organizations will realize an added benefit as in 2021 AI augmentation will generate $2.9 trillion of business value and save 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity.”

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Change Management in the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’

Change Management in the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’

The World Economic Forum’s annual gathering of economic leaders, tycoons, and celebrities finished up last Saturday in Davos, Switzerland, and the meeting was not short on big ideas about how the world of talent is going to shape up in the near future.

The centerpiece of the discussion was what people are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution (although there’s some debate about whether we are still in the third). The WEF put out a long report with a lot of statistics to help you understand the shift and to scare the world into action—especially with the much-reported statistic that robots are going to steal about 5.1 million jobs by 2020. (You can read the executive summary here—though apparently you must still download PDFs in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.)

The revolution, it is argued, ushers in a blurring of the physical and the digital and, importantly, does so at incredible speed and disruption to business. For Fortune editor Alan Murray, the human element of this change was one of the key takeaways from Davos:

Digital transformation is as much about people as technology. I moderated two private CEO-level discussions focused on the digital transformation of industries, and in both, the human challenges trumped technological ones. Companies struggle to create cultures that can embrace rapid technological change, and governments struggle in response to publics more likely to focus on future risks than future benefits.

CEB data certainly bears this out. For the last year, we’ve been tracking the impact of change at organizations as companies have looked to transform both their HR functions and their workforces to better handle the onslaught of change largely generated by the digital revolution. And as the WEF meeting made clear, change in this new era is very different than in the past.

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