Week in Review: Adapting to the digital reality

  • 5% of current jobs in the US can be automated today
  • Telenor sets 5-year target in its transformation journey

Week in Review: Adapting to the digital realityAS we hail technology developments that we see making our lives more convenient and fun, and our jobs easier, we need to be aware of the flipside as well.
 
Work-life balance has given way to work-life blend, and most of us have accepted that as the new reality in this increasingly digital world.
 
Yet another soon-to-be-reality could have more dire consequences: That of job losses in not just manual work, but even certain low-knowledge work.
 
Even before my colleague Lum Ka Kay wrote about Gartner predicting “massive job losses” within the next 25 years, this was an issue already disturbing me.
 
I had read some recent research by management consultants McKinsey & Co which revealed that 60% of labour activities in the US workforce can be automated today, using existing technologies. And 5% of jobs can be completely automated.
 
Worrying signs for all, I feel, as the pace will only increase.
 
What can we do in the face of this onslaught? Just better prepare ourselves. One way is through learning how to code, and I shared this on radio yesterday (June 2) during DNA’s fortnightly Tech Talk show on BFM, a Kuala Lumpur-based radio station.
 
I have written about this before as well. Coincidentally, I had a meeting this morning with an executive who is helping Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) embed computational literacy into the national education curriculum in Malaysia.
 
The executive had heard my show on BFM and agreed that at the base level, all kids going through their national education systems must acquire coding skills.
 
Fortunately for Malaysia, the pilot was done last year and from 2017, computational literacy will be part of the national education curriculum.
 
While I am sure all governments will move to equip their populace with the skills to survive and thrive in a quickly evolving digital world, global companies are moving as well.
 
This week I listened to Telenor Group president Sigve Brekke talk about why his company has a five-year plan to move from being a telco to a digital services provider.
 
I was also able to catch him for a quick 4-min chat as he was rushing off to his next meeting, and my key takeaway from that was how aware he was of the dangers of global Internet companies capturing most of the value from the customers Telenor helps connect, with the consequence that Telenor could be consigned to playing the role of a dumb pipe if it fails to transform itself.
 
Also aware that in a global company with US$15.3 billion revenue in 2015, it may be hard to get the organisation to see the urgency of the need to shift, he is trying to create a ‘burning platform’ mentality in Telenor, setting a five-year timeframe for its shift to ensure it not only survives, but thrives, in an increasingly digital world.
 
So you have governments starting to adapt, at a slower pace, and you have private enterprise adapting more quickly, naturally.
 
How fast can you and I, already in the thick of the digital economy, adapt? Can we adopt that burning platform mentality ourselves?
 
Editor’s Picks:
 
Three things we’ve learnt from Malaysia’s spectrum reallocation
 
Malaysian telcos’ Q1 2016 report card: Oh dear, oh my!
 
Sigve Brekke’s ‘burning platform’ mentality to move a giant
 
Digital transformation: Expect massive job cuts, says Gartner senior VP
 
Sound the alarm: Huawei is out to disrupt the enterprise IT giants
 
Brick-and-mortar retailer Alfamart goes full throttle on e-commerce
 
Who says SaaS is not sexy? TradeGecko has big plans
 
 
Previous Instalments:
 
Week in Review: Satya woos geeks in SEA
 
Week in Review: Singapore gets it about digital disruption
 
Week in Review: SMEs are digital laggards, but with good reason
 
Week in Review: Singapore welcomes a new telco
 
Week in Review: With new CEO, will MaGIC morph?

  
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