The introduction of robots into the workforce will soon resonate in the C-suite. Top executives who are leading the workforce and in charge for operations and automation in their day to day business, must also be prepared for their own jobs to change.
This can be challenging to prepare the workforce to share space with robots as colleagues or learning new skills as robots take over the most repetitive or dangerous tasks. This could also produce a lot of disruption in workplace around the globe. A recent study by PWC of 29 countries estimated that on average, the proportion of jobs at high risk of automation will be roughly 20% by the late 2020s, and 30% by the mid-2030s.
Heading up a hybrid workforce of people and robots will require a different type of leadership, one that blends quintessential human skills such as empathy with a tech-savvy and data-driven mind-set. C-suite leaders will need to start planning a road map of their career and organization for the next ten years. Senior leaders must objectively assess not only their own strengths, but also where they have knowledge or experience gaps, areas where they need to build new skills. The study found, that the nature of leaders’ work will undoubtedly undergo major shifts. These shifts will open up more time for forward-looking activities; executives will be helped further here by the presence of increasingly sophisticated data. Meanwhile, leaders in customer-facing roles need to figure out how to best serve customers, taking advantage of automation to provide customized products and services on demand.
The implementation of robotics and artificial intelligence in work place and factories will differ and bring transformative changes for many workers, depending on their industry and role. There are Industrial Robots in factories that use assembly line or similar approaches like pick and pack at order fulfillment center.Service robots stand in for humans and are not necessarily machines. In some case they are used as application for Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation.
Functional leaders must consider matters as they define their role in the age of robots like taking up the actions that will prepare for the ways that robots will transform their industry and business. What are the changes required structurally? What type of people do they need, how will they work together, and what will their roles and responsibilities be in this new world? How will functional leaders manage this hybrid workforce to ensure a harmonious existence?
Chief executive officers will need to provide their company’s vision and leadership, driving the change and guiding the company through its digital transformation. CEOs will also need to demonstrate personal commitment to this effort, holding themselves and others accountable. And, with respect to robots and related applications of AI, the chief executive must make sure the board of directors has the expertise to oversee proper governance and guide decision making.
Chief financial officers will have to embrace this change. At the same time, they will have to keep their eye on whether the investment in automating finance-related tasks and tasks in other departments as well is paying off. CFOs will oversee compliance activities and take steps required to build trust with regulators and investors by ensuring that financial output from automated systems can be explained, and the risks of automation can be mitigated. CFOs will need to ensure that people are able to build the automation, interpret results, and maintain control.
Chief operating officers will play a role where they must close any gaps in their knowledge regarding technology as they develop a keen sense of how the changes are affecting the business. In manufacturing, for example, automation’s primary value comes from creating capacity, lowering costs, improving safety, and injecting the manufacturing environment with flexibility and agility. Incorporation of AI and robotics should be in line of overall digital strategy for COO. Investments in automation must have a clear role in reshaping the manufacturing footprint and streamlining the supply chain, which may also involve technologies such as blockchain and the IoT.
The role of Chief human resources officers will also see a sea change and greatly be affected by robots like their C-suite counterparts these leaders will need to expand their skills to succeed. The PWC survey of business and HR leaders found that 41% of HR executives are confident that their departments are up to speed in advanced technologies, but only a quarter of other business leaders have similar confidence about their HR departments. In addition to increasing their technology acumen, HR leaders must address a number of cultural issues, including how best to manage robots and train people to do the same. HR leaders also need to assess their employees’ current capabilities, with an eye toward upskilling and re-skilling. In the long run employees must be encouraged to embrace the idea that automation will help make their jobs more fulfilling and make those employees even more valuable to the company.
The marketing department will be seen as less of a cost center and more of a source of revenue. The role of chief marketing officer will become increasingly driven by data analytics. Customers will expect to have the ability to personalize products and content, so in sectors such as retail and media, marketing leaders will work closely with sales to be sure they can deliver on customer demands.
Chief information officers, chief technology officers, and chief digital officers will have a lot on their plate as technology leaders for implementation, cybersecurity, data management and analytics and the myriad ways that automation technologies will impact all parts of the business. They will have to collaborate more with tech, robotics, and AI players and startups in order to enhance infrastructure and up-skill IT capabilities. Few of the tech leadership roles, will be expanding and some being absorbed into others, as teams and functions become more deeply integrated.
The C-suite executives have to adapt emerging technologies and quickly gain prominence and scale to stay ahead and derive benefits in terms of revenue.