- AI, machine learning, automation will enhance the coordination of resources, on-demand learning
- About 85% of the jobs that today’s population will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet
WHETHER we like it or not, technology evolution is inevitable and it is not slowing down. With rapid developments across science, technology engineering and communication, technology has brought upon a new Industrial Revolution, or better known as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, that will greatly influence jobs across sectors, as well as roles within the home.
It is a total transformation of our way of life that will change the way we do businesses. Malaysia is serious about riding the wave; the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) recently published the proposed National Industry 4.0 Policy Framework and opened it to public consultation.
While many organisations are struggling to keep up, significant changes in the workplace are beginning to take place today and professionals are feeling the impact. Automation, VR, AR, you name it, it’s happening. The rise of advanced tools and skills leaves many unanswered questions for the future; however, it’s clear five major changes are bound to impact the future of work.
1) Robots, do you take lunch breaks?
Robots have performed manufacturing activities that humans don’t want to do, or shouldn’t do, for decades. From repetitive tasks or jobs that do not require unique cognitive skills or emotional intelligence, replacing human workers with intelligent machines can save a company up to 90% in labour costs.
TalentCorp in its report on Malaysia’s Future of Work, shared how local companies are already embracing a future where technology is increasingly influencing jobs; it is estimated about 43% of tasks could be automated by today’s technology.
Take Gamuda Bhd for instance – the property developer introduced Industrialised Building System (IBS) which optimises efficiency through reduced construction time and reliance on manpower. All building elements are completed in a factory-controlled environment and are then installed onsite in a Lego-like fashion.
This concept to construction enhances quality while reducing wastage and minimises the number of workers onsite, subsequently increasing safety levels. On a lighter note, a local ‘kopitiam’ has adopted the idea of robot servers at their restaurants in Ipoh, Perak and Selangor.
Another bonus: the elimination of the lunch break. Beyond the fears of intelligent machine growth as a job killer, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and automation will enhance the coordination of resources and on-demand learning, which will reset work structures for manufacturing and more.
AI-powered machines have an enhanced ability to make basic decisions, learn from experiences and share that learning with other AI programmes. This will enable people to rely on them more heavily, while streamlining and improving processes and everyday tasks, while also enabling a mutually beneficial relationship. Unlike humans however, robots do not provide emotional intelligence; humans will remain as critical partners working alongside advanced algorithms.
2) Gig or fib?
Contract workers, freelancers, ride-share drivers and other alternative work arrangements – otherwise known as the “gig economy” – are increasingly popular employment choices for the younger generation, including Malaysia.
This not only offers flexibility to the next generation of workers, it may just be the next big driver of economic development. The government is getting in on the action, setting up several programmes to get underemployed Malaysians onto gig economy platforms such as eRezeki and eUsahawan.
While the gig economy becomes more pervasive, the gigs will change. Take autonomous cars for example. Well-known ride sharing companies have invested heavily in the development of driverless cars. While there are early signs of technology leaning this way and the impact may not be evident for some time, you can very well envision a time where autonomous cars will replace “gig” drivers, and humans will have to come to terms with what this means for the future of their various professional endeavours.
However, with a change in the gig economy also comes new opportunity. Around 85% of the jobs that today’s population will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet, according to a report by the Institute for the Future.
3) Visualise your work in real-time
Businesses are looking to VR and AR to enhance training, collaboration and much more. On-demand access to AR learning resources will reset expectations and practices around workplace training and real-time decision-making will be supported by easy access to information.
VR-enabled simulations will immerse people in alternative experiences and places, creating empathy and empowering a blend of physical and virtual worlds. For example, Nike, Meta and Dell are partnering to use VR, AR, voice control, a digital canvas and haptic technology to allow designers to create their vision in more natural ways.
OEMS are investing heavily in innovation on the content creation side, consumption of the content for gaming, entertainment and work and service and support, to be able to take advantage of what VR and AR have to offer.
In Malaysia, the Aerospace Malaysia Innovation Centre (AMIC) launched the ‘Virtual Reality Online Robot’ project, where the objective was to create a virtual robot so that an actual physical robot will be able to imitate its movements.
A typical application is in the painting task whereby an expert can perform complex painting in the virtual environment, but the actual work takes place at another site connected by the Internet. While the example seems simplistic in nature, it draws similarities to how the aerospace industry may use VR. Imagine an engineer on earth making repairs to a space station – all in a virtual environment.
4) Up in the clouds
Whether it’s public, private or hybrid cloud, organisations are relying on it and it’s expected to grow. Chitale Dairy, a dairy farming business in India, launched a ‘cow to cloud’ initiative to tag and capture data through AI and IoT to alert farmers when they need to change the cows’ diet, arrange vaccinations, etc.
The cloud is the most agile method for enterprise companies, like Chitale Dairy, to benefit in terms of efficiency and profitability, but also the customers in the end. Organisations must train their employees to master the cloud, and in turn, companies will experience strong benefits when it comes to simplifying their tasks, saving time and focusing efforts on strategic areas of their business to maximise revenues.
5) Clear the bias
Human-machine partnerships will enable people to find and act on information without the interference of emotions or bias, potentially eliminating stereotypes.
Machine learning will increase a person’s ability to evaluate an employee prospect and identify optimal talent or even a worker’s aptitude for gaining new knowledge or learning new skills without personal judgment.
Both hiring processes and daily tasks will experience significant improvements as prospects and employees are viewed solely for their skills, and biases are removed from the equation.
Keeping a pulse on these imminent changes today will prepare both employee and employer for what’s to come in the next 15 years and beyond.
While challenges and hurdles may arise, humans must act now on technology’s impact on the future by maximising these relationships now.
Pang Yee Beng is senior vice president, South Asia & Korea, Dell EMC and managing director, Dell Malaysia.
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