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New Collar Skills Contributing to Growth in the Digital Economy

Purshottam Purswani
Purshottam Purswani, Principal Architect, Atos India Pvt. Ltd.

Businesses are now operating amidst widespread disruption, which stems from changes in society and regulations, coupled with the threats and opportunities presented by the exponential advancement of technology. Intelligent automation is disrupting and transforming economies around the world.

Against this backdrop, it is no longer viable to plan a single “one-shot” Digital Transformation. Rather, organizations must be able to constantly adapt at pace: seizing opportunities and neutralizing threats as they arise. They must also innovate extensively, not just to revolutionize the products and services they offer, but also to highly optimize their internal operations. Digital shockwaves are now rapidly propagating towards Business-to-Business (B2B) markets and their impact will be significant by the year 2020.

One of the most powerful levers an organization must shape its destiny is the act of deciding how to apply the resources it possesses (including people, money and physical assets).

There is a symbiosis between the unifying purpose, resource allocation, leadership, governance and organization structure, with the organizational culture. Given the synergy, they influence, as well enable each other. What is also needed is a mechanism to ensure that the organization is outward looking and constantly assessing and evaluating future new technologies, potential partnerships, competitors and disruptive business models. We describe this as the searchlight and the radar.

Emerging technologies such as fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks, artificial intelligence, IoT (The Internet of Things) and advanced robotics is changing jobs today and creating an increased demand of skilled workers. These technologies promise to transform most sectors of the economy. Organizations are evaluating different emerging disruptive technologies that will have a major impact on economies and employment. Many jobs are becoming more technology-intensive, and all workers will need some baseline skills as a result.

As industries from health care to agriculture, manufacturing to banking are being reshaped using these new technologies, there is a need of new skills and hence the demands for these kinds of jobs being created. Hiring for a new-collar job means shifting your strategy from the traditional methods of seeking college education degrees and former job experience.

Real-time perspective analytics and artificial intelligence will have a major impact in the automation, optimization and flexibility of connected ecosystems as we head towards the year 2020. Connected Robots will be managed and controlled in completely new ways enabled by the offloading of selected processing to the Cloud. Augmented workers, who receive relevant information – via wearables or handheld devices, interactive virtual agents, would be the imminent future.

On one hand, there is a growing economy with a booming, world-class information technology sector; on the other, we struggle with the skill gap required for the same. Relevant education and training will be of paramount importance to meet the seemingly ever-changing skills requirements. A solid background in key areas (i.e. computing) will enable people to continually learn and adapt, in contrast to the idea that people must become quickly specialized in specific topics (i.e. Big Data). Overspecialization and oversimplification will not suffice.

The skills needed are digital skills to run automation and software, robotics, analyze data, artificial intelligence, cyber security, cloud computer maintenance and much more.

A well-defined public-private collaboration will be needed that takes technology-based learning beyond the big cities. There must be a constant effort towards building a long-term skills development strategy that keeps the workforce relevant and sustainable for future technologies and does not change with any political or economic shifts. To have effective path forward questions related to issues of skill alignment needs to be addressed at a fast pace for the organizations to remain in the global competitive market.

Faced with uncertainty, businesses must change the very essence of how they operate. Their purpose, culture, leadership, governance and structure must all be re-evaluated and potentially transformed. And the rewards can be great: organizations who are successful will not just manage to survive but will be able to thrive in a digitally disrupted world, and hence contribute to a digital economy.

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Niloy Banerjee

A generic movie-buff, passionate and professional with print journalism, serving editorial verticals on Technical and B2B segments, crude rover and writer on business happenings, spare time playing physical and digital forms of games; a love with philosophy is perennial as trying to archive pebbles from the ocean of literature. Lastly, a connoisseur in making and eating palatable cuisines.

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