Will there Be Jobs for me In The Digital Age?

Dharmender Kapoor, COO, BirlasoftOf course, let me first put this fear behind us so that we can focus on more important issues. When we are up against change, our predominant emotion is fear followed by a fight or flight response. The only way out, however, is to fight it.

We have been living in the digital age for quite some time, and it has assumed a new shape, disrupting every area of business. The digital age will disrupt areas that don't have much of an impact on human life initially, but it will eventually get down to disrupting lives, including mine and yours.

Let's take a look at the IT industry. It is for the first time that the IT industry is witnessing growth (muted though) without a corresponding rise in hiring. I believe this has less to do with automation, and more to do with demand for employees who are more productive. Automation is yet to arrive in many spheres and will have its own impact. There have been weaker signals of this, and stronger signals are now emerging. I am not trying to scare professionals, but I would like to say that the digital age will have a new employment model. I expect employees to move on cloud or stay employed digitally, probably five years down the line. It’s time for each one of us to be ready, adapt to the new order and be prepared to embrace the ambiguity and uncertainty that it will bring.

Employment and entrepreneurship will converge from here, and mere credentials will not help us survive intense competition. A lot of us may not have permanent employment, or fixed compensation. We may not even be entitled to titles, but hopefully, it will be more satisfying and rewarding. The IT industry saw culture move from completely hierarchical to some what flattish, but digital age may make the ground far more leveled, with more objectivity and reciprocity between
employers and employees. An employee in digital age will be compensated for delivering results, but will also be out of the corporate rat race. Employers and managers should get ready to handle more resurgent and detached employees. These are the three major shifts that we may see in corporate culture:

Corporates will embrace crowd sourcing and structure themselves to split the work among independent individuals or teams and assemble it back together to deliver the final product

People May Become Consultants & Not Employees: Many roles will be fulfilled by consultants. Consultants will be paid better, and would have greater flexibility when it comes to working hours and location. Consultants will have to learn to demonstrate their capabilities and value proposition. They will be hired for a purpose, and will be evaluated according to how well they meet targets. They will have to take responsibility of training them selves to remain abreast with new technologies. They will have to develop their network in order to know their position in the market,and seize opportunities.

The role of a consultant can be highly rewarding if an individual handles it well. They can command higher flexibility, higher rates for their efforts and many times opt to work from wherever they want. Lower taxes will be an additional benefit that may attract more and more professionals to work as consultants.

Managers Will Be Held To Greater Accountability, and would need granular planning to ensure they get the value for what they pay consultants. It will be easier to measure productivity and outcome, and hence would require managers to execute and govern with detailed activities and work break-down structure. Charge back and internal P&Ls will force managers to make every penny count, and achieve business goals effectively. Most importantly, HR managers will see a significant change in the way workforce is managed, retained and kept excited about the work and organization. When it comes to employee experience, HR managers should expect a major change in their role.

Corporates Will Need To Embrace Digital Workplace: There will be enough tools and platforms available for managers to plan and execute well, and for workforce to perform, collaborate and report the performance. Many corporate will embrace crowd sourcing, and will structure themselves to split the work, distribute it among independent individuals or teams, and assemble it back together to deliver the final product. Cloud and Digital workplaces will significantly alter the way services are delivered and consumed.

This shift in culture will be gradual, but curve would rather be steep, unlike the shift that we saw in last 20 years of the golden period of IT industry. We all know it when we see strong signals, but do look out for weaker signals to sense the opportunities. Prepare your self for the inevitable change.