Changes Are Coming: How to Stay Ahead of Workplace Disruptions

Changes Are Coming: How to Stay Ahead of Workplace Disruptions

When we think about the future of work, we often picture robots taking our jobs and a permanent end to the decreasingly popular 9-to-5. While changes as extreme as these may be coming at some point in the future, ongoing technological innovations are changing the future of work today, while subsequent disruptions will continue to shape our working lives tomorrow. Artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, machine learning, and other emerging technologies are already promising to fundamentally change how we work and what we need from our HR functions. The ongoing and upcoming waves of technological change will fundamentally disrupt the way work is done and who does it.

HR functions are starting to engage with these changes: Gartner research shows that one in four HR teams are already using or piloting AI in some form. However, only 10% of Chief HR Officers feel that they have an operational strategy to address the risks of automation. In order for HR to evolve, its leaders need to better understand the technology trends that affect the future of work. HR executives are now expected to evaluate the impact of these trends on their organization, both to leverage them in growing the business and to prepare the organization for the risks they pose.

So how do you proactively prepare for workplace disruptions instead of reactively lagging behind them? We reviewed how some of the most progressive organizations and HR leaders are tracking, assessing, and managing the implications of upcoming technology trends on their employees and the work they do. From our research, we determined that HR leaders must focus on two key areas: identifying and anticipating business disruptions, and preparing for workforce transformation.

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Shift From Hardware to Software and Services Means Big Changes at Cisco

Shift From Hardware to Software and Services Means Big Changes at Cisco

In its quarterly earnings report issued late in the day Wednesday, Cisco Systems revealed plans to lay off 5,500 employees—7 percent of its global workforce—as part of a transformation from a network hardware company to one focused on “areas such as security, Internet of Things and cloud,” Reuters reports:

Cisco’s traditional business of switches and routers has been struggling with sluggish demand from telecom carriers and enterprise customers and intense competition from companies such as Huawei and Juniper Networks. Revenue in the company’s traditional routers business fell 6 percent in the fourth-quarter ended July 30, while switching unit revenue was up 2 percent. Chief Executive Chuck Robbins, who took over from John Chambers in July last year, has been steering the company toward more software and services businesses. Revenue in Cisco’s security business, which offers firewall protection as well as intrusion detection and prevention systems, rose 16 percent.

Cisco, which is also betting on acquisitions to bolster its faster-growing businesses, has made 10 acquisitions since Robbins took the helm, according to FactSet StreetAccount data. These deals range from internet-of-things startup Jasper Technologies to cloud security provider CloudLock.

The announcement partly confirmed rumors that had circulated earlier in the day of impending downsizing at Cisco, though the rumors had wildly inflated the expected number of layoffs. Don Clark at the Wall Street Journal has more on the industry-wide transformation motivating Cisco to change course:

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