In the May 22 issue of Bits on NYTimes.com writer Steve Lohr reported on a McKinsey report on the $33 trillion impact that they feel 12 disruptive technologies will have in the future. In reviewing this list I felt the top 5 will have a major impact on the field of HR.
This is considered to be the largest disruptive technology with an economic impact of anywhere from $4 trillion to $11 trillion. We have already seen the major increase in “smart phones” and tablets that enable people to work from anywhere they can have Internet access. This is going to do nothing but increase. The day will come where desk top computers are passé and everyone is equipped with a mobile device. In fact the day will come when desks will be passé. In the meantime you need to be thinking about how mobile technology will change the various jobs, what kinds of training will be necessary and what kinds of risks will you have to deal with. You will also have to consider all the interfaces that employees have with HR and make sure they are mobile enabled.
Automation of knowledge work
I wrote about this subject as part of Future Friday: Why it will be important for jobs to be more “Human”. According to McKinsey this will have an economic impact of between $5 to $7 trillion dollars. Much of this impact will most likely come in the job changes that will be required from the displacement of workers by technology. People will have to transition to newly created jobs that will take advantage of their “humanness” by doing things that automation cannot do. I wrote in that post that now is the time to start thinking of jobs in those terms. I emphasize that again.
Internet of things
This was a term I was unfamiliar with prior to reading this article. I looked it up on Wikipedia and you too can read the explanation here. Basically this is the world of “things” communicating with computers. This will have an economic impact of $2.5 to $6.5 trillion with much of that not requiring human interaction. One of these technologies already in use is the RFID systems used by FedEx, UPS and Walmart. Because these technologies will require lower human interaction it will replace many jobs. What jobs might they replace in your organization?
I know many HR people who are skeptical of the cloud. Well get over it. It is here to stay and will have a $2 trillion to $7 trillion impact. Many HR systems have been developed and many more are being developed that will take advantage of the cloud. It will enable that mobile technology and will make your jobs easier. It has and will change the world of work in allowing extreme flexibility about where people have to work, aka telecommuting.
This is the fifth disruptive technology I wanted to cover. According to McKinsey it will have a $2 to $5 trillion impact. It has already begun. I covered how we deal with this in HR in Out Thinking Robots is the Key to a Job in the Future. Again, the disruptive aspect of this technology is that it has and will continue to supplant humans. So we need to think what our workers can do and be trained to do, that will make them better than robots. This will often require decision-making in “fuzzy” situations.
These five disruptive technologies are not things that are just in the future. They are in the present, but you may not yet felt the effects on your organization. That is just a matter of time. So prepare now for this future. Be ready to respond and make your strategic impact by doing so.