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Myth busting the future world of work

The fourth industrial revolution is coming. Or some may argue it’s already here.

No matter which side of the debate you’re on, one thing we can all agree on, is that a fundamental change in the way we live, work and relate to one another is near.

Being able to merge physical, digital and biological worlds in ways that create both promise and potential peril is forcing us to rethink how organisations create value and even how our role as humans will continue to exist with these advances.

Bond Business School’s Associate Professor of Global Strategy Dr Gary Bowman is one of the experts who believe we’re already experiencing the fourth industry revolution, also known as 4.0.

“The third industrial revolution was about designing logic and processes for supply chains and automation,” he says.

“4.0 is more about creating a harmonious cyber-physical environment, where we use connectivity, artificial intelligence and automation to positively impact people’s lives through technology.”

Dr Bowman says a great example of how this means different things to different people is  live traffic updates: “so for most of us, it’s how we can shave a few minutes off our journey, but for others, that’s the internet-of-things utilising a fully connected network, using real-time data analytics to create route optimisation for a manufacturer’s flexible automation factory.

With this shift in technological advancement comes a new wave of jobs and skills needed in order to create opportunity such as skills in data analysis. But there is also a fear that humans will be replaced.

Here Dr Bowman sets the record straight and busts the most common misconceptions and fears about our future world of work.

Myth #1 - Robots will replace the need for humans

Artificial intelligence experts believe that 40% of the world’s jobs will be replaced by robots capable of automating tasks.

However, there is a silver lining. While many jobs might be made obsolete, there will be a whole new range of jobs that don’t exist yet.

Dr Bowman says it’s simply about adapting our skillset to cater for the new breed of jobs.

“It may seem like robots will rule the world, but you will still need people organising work, and most importantly, being innovative and creative, which is what will enable the next wave of disruption,” he says.

According to PWC’s Workforce of the future report jobs are being redefined and re-categorised.

“By replacing workers doing routine, methodical tasks, machines can amplify the comparative advantage of those workers with problem solving, leadership, EQ (Emotional Intelligence), empathy and creativity skills,” it says.

“Those workers performing tasks which automation can’t yet crack, become more pivotal – and this means creativity, innovation, imagination, and design skills will be prioritised by employers.

“This view is supported by business leaders worldwide who responded to our most recent CEO survey.”

Myth #2 - You've got to be big to make a difference

While organisations like KPMG are continually in the news for sinking mass amounts of profits into innovation such as robotic led factories and transforming the face of its finance functions with automation, there is opportunity to make a difference - no matter what size your organisation is.

According to PWC’s Workforce of the Future report, 52% of CEOs of companies big and small are planning on exploring the benefits of humans and machines working together, with 39% considering the impact of AI on their future skills needed.

For smaller companies, it’s just as important. The concept is the same, the application might just be a little more straightforward.

Automation can be as simple as a few lines of code to manage ordering processes or using a customer relationship management (CRM) that has personalised, automated engagement functions.

Myth #3 - You need to be an A-grade maths student to work with big data

While mathematics and engineering skills have their advantage when working with big data, Dr Bowman argues that being exceptionally qualified in those areas aren’t needed.

“Writing algorithms and interpreting data are worlds apart. Businesses big and small in the future are going to need people who understand the principles of data analytics and know how to interpret processes and outputs to make informed decisions,” he says.

“If we want to innovate, those ideas are going to have to come from a data-driven approach.

“The thing we need to understand is while data might be captured and packaged differently, using it is still necessary for innovation whether you’re in agriculture, marketing or healthcare. It’s about understanding the gaps in the marketing and presenting your idea.”

Dr Bowman says it’s a bit like thinking you have to be an expert in French literature to have a meaningful conversation in Paris.

“It’s simply about being able to make data meaningful,” he says. “And to cater to those jobs of the future, we’re going to need to embrace learning those skills.”

Bond University’s new Bachelor of Entrepreneurial Transformation will cater to these new skills, taking students from learning business fundamentals to exploring curiosity and using data to facilitate decision-making.

Be prepared for the future of work

Bond's Bachelor of Entrepreneurial Transformation will prepare you to stand out in the future world of work.

Learn more