Digital Diversity - Convergence of Minds and Machines

Kewyn George, Director - Business Performance, AstraZeneca | Tuesday, 07 March 2017, 10:15 IST

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Right from the emergence of organized industrial structure, importance of diversity has been a point of discussion across the board rooms. In the last decade, gender diversity has scaled as “Diversity and Inclusion”, which emphasized the importance of diversified workforce within the organization. Currently, the evolution of Diversity has led to the “Digital pulse” phase, disrupting every industry across the globe.

Digital Evolution has transformed the industry from a manual informatics to an IoT analytics based magical mirror

We all started with manual data entry captured in physical registry process and writing letters through postal system. These were converted into various digital media – I will refer to this phase as “Yesterday done, Continuing today”.

The next phase of evolution impacting the workforces across all industries is – Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – This has made significant impact in the past few years and continues to disrupt the entire Business Process Management industry, influencing core manufacturing, IT services and other core sectors. Let me coin this phase as “Disruption today, Convergence tomorrow”.

The most sought out crux of discussion across board rooms currently is the adoption of “Machine learning aligned Artificial intelligence”. We will notice every organization aligning significant budget toward AI initiatives in the coming years.  Today we have Alexa, Cortana, Amelia, Siri etc. In the future, we expect more customized AI systems to be on rise used across all industries. Let’s call this “Cognitive Intelligence for Smart tomorrow”.

The future phase of Digital lies in the convergence of Devices & Digital into a “Connected Cognitive Mesh”, where all isolated technologies, RPA, Smart analytics systems, Machine learning, IoT and Digital platforms will converge focusing on better customer experience and driving the “Zero distance to customer” strategy. This phase can be referred as “Future uprising, today”.

Now, digital transformation in the corporates is tantamount to a revolution. It has become a mandate for executives to bring in “Digital Diversity” to drive their organization’s strategy and success. What is Digital Diversity? It’s simply forming the organizational structure with a mix of human and cognitive agents.

According to Gartner, “Robo-boss” will supervise over 3 million workers globally by 2018 (Gartner Newsroom, 2015). Though alarming, this indicates the roadmap of change. For instance, in the scenario of performance management; monitored by robots, perception will cease to play any role. Therefore, the most common complaint regarding prevalent of biasness will cease leading to a constructive and goal driven approach with clear outcomes.

With all the advancements in automation, digital touch will be apparent up to the top hierarchical levels in the organizational pyramid. Digital diversity demands an Inverted pyramid structure across organizations. When customer experience is the paramount factor for consistent growth of the organization, “7” will be the “Driving force” & Value generator of the organization and top management will act as an “Enabler”, leading and supporting from behind.

The alarming indication in the inverted pyramid is the possibility of the Middle management layer completely merging with the “Value generator” category, thus bringing a significant shift in today’s modus operandi and disrupting the overall Line management layer.

7 key parameter’s enabling a factor “7” in the organization is a mere coincidence.

1. The CEO of the organization “believes” digital diversification is key for growth and building a sustainable organization.

2. Once the belief has been cascaded down, build a purposeful business case and execute at appropriate time.

3. Digital Ecosystem: Convergence of IT systems, Assets/things, Intelligence and user experience derives a better customer value proposition.

4. Form a team to drive the belief across the organization, without disrupting the organizational environment. Digital talent should comprise of a firm believer, a change agent, a Digital passionate, an architect, contributors and the sponsor who will drive the ROI.

5. Approach and areas of focus to employ the digital workforce. While the speed of execution is essential for success, it is important to identify the right use case for deploying Cognitive agents.

6. Digital Risk, Security & Governance: The paramount factor for having scalable & sustainable Digital journey. Governance around cognitive agents and other security factors should be taken care of during the implementation and maintenance of intelligent systems.

7. Creating a Digital Culture to sustain and scale up the bold ambition is most important. This requires investment of time and effort by the work force to instill the culture across the organization.

The pressing question now, “What is the percent of Digital workforce for any organization?” I believe the range will be about 10 – 30 percent in the next three to five years expanding to about 50 percent by 2025.

Imagine a situation with 5 different “Virtual Robots” performing your tasks in multiple locations simultaneously. This is the futuristic outlook; someone might already be doing it while you’re reading this. We foresee unthinkable, unimaginable things converting into reality in our lifetime.

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