This is a reflection post from Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder of Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP, who received the 2016 HRN Lifetime Achievement Award for services to the global HR community.
As I sat down with Marc Coleman to talk about HR and the world of work and my career over the last 15 years, it was clear to me that things are changing faster than ever before. We are in a world where jobs are being augmented by machines, careers are spanning 70 years or longer, organizations are restructuring into networks of teams, and technology has infiltrated every part of our lives. In many ways, my job as an industry analyst and researcher has become more important, and in some ways, harder, than ever.
Right now the hot topic in work and HR is the issue of artificial intelligence and impact of the role of robots and cognitive computing on jobs. For me, as I talk about in the video, this is not really a new thing – I’ve been working since 1978, before we had email or voicemail or PCs – but for most people it feels like an astounding rate of change.
What we’ve learned over time, through both our research and lots of conversations with clients, is that as technology changes, we as humans adapt very fast. In fact, it’s somewhat amazing how quickly we adopt new tools, change the way we work and live, and then move on with our lives.
Take the spreadsheet for example. When it was first introduced in the early 1980s we all believed financial analysts would go away. In fact the opposite happened: analysts learned how to write macros, and now they are all “super analysts” – and in fact everyone could become a financial analyst. The same thing has happened with mobile phones – now that most of us have one, we are all video stars, authors, teachers, and entertainers. And look at how creative and interesting all this new media has become.
In the world of work the same thing has happened. As technology changes business models and every company has to innovate and iterate faster, we as employees can now be more creative and more empowered if we learn to use the tools around us. And that theme of empowerment, learning, and using tools to augment our work, not just to automate old fashioned HR stuff, is what the next wave of business, HR, and HR technology is all about.
For me the world of work, jobs, and business is more fun and exciting than ever before. We are all living longer so we can have widely varying careers, we can shift from work to leisure and back, and we can continue to learn throughout our lives. Companies are becoming more flexible, so we can work for a while, take some time off, become a contractor, and maybe come back. And we can use all this technology to communicate, meet people, and stay up on news like never before.
Of course whenever new technology comes we have changes we can’t predict. Things like fake news, cyber hacking, and technology overload are things we couldn’t predict. But my guess is that we as people, our work teams, and our HR departments will figure this stuff out, and if we keep thinking about what we can do to make people more productive, healthy, and empowered at work, everything will work out well.
I want to thank HRN for the award and the honor, and as always look forward to coming to the HR Tech World conferences and meeting all the wonderful people in our industry.
As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte USA LLP, Deloitte LLP and their respective subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.