People and technology strategies don’t have to be mutually exclusive

People and technology strategies don’t have to be mutually exclusive

Both the speed of technological change and skills shortages are high on the minds of private businesses – but could they be solutions to each other’s’ problems?

Five years is a long time in technology. Since 2012, we’ve landed the ground-breaking Curiosity rover on Mars, seen three new iPads released and watched as Facebook’s active monthly users doubled from one to two billion. Back then, few had realised that virtual reality, blockchain, artificial intelligence and 3D printing could be commercially successful, despite them showing great potential.

Technology’s march is not going to slow down, either. This year’s PwC Private Business CEO Survey found that almost three-quarters (74%) or private business leaders expect their markets to be transformed by technology over the next five years. At the same time, 77% told us they are adapting their people strategy to some extent, namely to manage the impact of things like automation.

Businesses in New Zealand – and indeed around the world – are tasked with keeping up with technology and getting the most from their human capital (often their most costly resources). That’s why technology and people strategies can’t be mutually exclusive. Private businesses need both, and have to align them, if they’re to get the best of both worlds.

What’s on your mind?

More than two-thirds (68%) of private businesses are concerned about the speed of technological change (only 59% worried about cyber threats, incidentally – a red flag that’s worth bearing in mind), while 79% of private businesses say the problem of skills shortages keep them up at night.

Focusing on ways technology can augment human performance could help to scratch both itches.

For example, private businesses say they consider problem-solving the most important skill for their company’s success, with 79% prioritising it. By looking for ways to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of decisions through innovations such as data and analytics, businesses are being active in both their people and technology strategies.

Other priority skills that private businesses are looking for are leadership (72%), adaptability (63%), creativity and innovation (60%), and digital (30%). Although these are, interestingly, skills machines don’t possess, they can be enhanced by technology.

If you’re looking for adaptability, for instance, what tools do your people have to make them into versatile workers? Can they work from home or on the road effectively through cloud software? Once you have the governance and culture in place to allow these skills to be tapped into, it’s your technology that will enable it to work.

It’s all in the strategy

As we move into the second half of 2017, private-business owners will be taking a look at their strategies. With so many hoping to revitalise their people and technology plans, it could be a good time to think how the two coalesce.

Considering which technologies could help or hinder your people strategy will play an important part in bringing out the best in your workforce. At the same time, looking at what people and skills you have available will provide more confidence that technology investment decisions are being made for the right reasons.

Of course, there are other important considerations with both strategies. You’ll want better customer experience to also be a result of your technology strategy, while businesses should not discount the important ways culture, as well as tech, can nurture key skills. However, with some planning and a little innovative thinking, it’s possible – if not essential – for businesses to align their strategies and solve as many of their biggest problems as possible.

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