The Start of Something New

Technological innovations and generational demands are poised to transform the way work is done in 2020 and beyond.

By Emily He

The future of work has been a hot topic in recent years, fueled by a barrage of technological advancements impacting nearly every industry and organization. Business leaders far and wide are being pushed to innovate or risk falling behind—and HR leaders are no exception. New developments in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and chatbots are shaking up the landscape for HR, raising concerns around automation and job displacement while forcing teams to adapt to changing employee expectations and evolving workplace norms.

And the impact of AI in the workplace will only continue to grow. PWC forecasts that AI will contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, and over 50 percent of employees worldwide are actually optimistic about having robot co-workers in the future, according to Oracle and Future Workplace’s recent AI@Work Global Study.

The idea that emerging technologies will drastically transform the way people work is inevitable. The real questions are: How will the workplace change and when will the transformation start? The answer: In many ways and right now. Over the course of the next year, technology will change the traditional role of HR, fuel generational demand for a new workplace experience, and transform the relationship between people and machines.

HR Will Embrace AI

Over the past few years, AI-enabled technologies have improved day-to-day work for employees and managers by automating tasks and delivering an on-demand, personalized workplace experience. But AI isn’t just a self-service asset to employees and managers alone: 2020 will begin to see HR professionals benefit from smart tools as well. AI- and machine learning-backed technologies like digital assistants will relieve HR professionals from tedious, administrative, and time-consuming tasks. Things like compliance protocols that require multiple forms or complex tasks that safeguard data will be much easier for HR leaders to complete without IT support. This will also free up time unnecessarily spent on menial tasks, allowing HR professionals to focus on more strategic responsibilities that require a human touch.

Generation Z Will Make an Impact

The growth of remote work has been steadily trending, largely attributed to the tech startup culture. But as Gen Z makes up more of the global workforce, HR leaders can expect a heightened demand for flexible work environments across all industries and company sizes.

The younger generation brings a new set of expectations that will force HR leaders to adapt their workplace norms in order to attract and retain incoming talent. These digital natives are accustomed to gig-style, flexible work arrangements and expect an on-demand experience with real-time feedback and ample opportunity to grow. Companies looking to attract these workers will need to consider appropriate adjustments and strategies to manage a distributed team structure.

Career Mobility Will Become Critical

As competition in the talent economy continues to rise, career mobility—both internally and externally—will be important for HR and overall business success. Emerging technologies that are poised to revolutionize traditional roles will put greater constraints on the job market, particularly for seasoned employees needing to upskill in order to remain competitive with less experienced but more tech-savvy candidates.

HR leaders should provide career development opportunities for their employees and implement tools that give managers better visibility into existing employees’ skills. Many times, the right candidate for a position can be found within the organization itself, but HR teams need the ability to explore their existing talent pool. Likewise, employees need to feel empowered to build their personal brand by taking advantage of new opportunities at their fingertips.

Hybrid “Superjobs” are on the Rise

The integration of emerging technologies in the workplace has brought shifts in the skills needed for many jobs. But as AI innovation continues, technology will also change the nature of and requisition for the job itself.

Eventually, every job will have a component of automation or machine-backed assistance, taking on a hybrid role. This rising trend of “superjobs”—a term coined by Deloitte—will begin to take shape this year, introducing joint human-and-machine roles into the marketplace.

Talking Tech Will Go Mainstream

Employees will also finally begin to bridge the gap between the way they use technology at home and at work. People worldwide talk to their technology day in and day out to learn what the weather is like, how traffic is building, or even what TV shows to watch. In 2020, those same user experiences will be introduced at work with the implementation of a conversational interface. Employees will be able to get their work done via voice or text, on any device, wherever they are, and whenever they want. Advancements to digital assistants and chatbots will open new doors for employees, managers, and HR leaders alike, providing endless flexibility and improving the workplace experience.

2020 is introducing a new role for technology in the future of work. Over the past few years, HR leaders have seen the initial changes caused by AI and machine learning with a largely visionary perspective on the future impact. But in 2020, they will begin to see more tactical changes, with tech innovations fundamentally altering the way HR professionals operate, driving new expectations in the workplace, and ringing in a new era of man and machine working side by side. It’ll be the start of something different and very exciting.


Emily He is the senior vice president of Oracle HCM Cloud.

Posted February 18, 2020 in Workforce Management

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