In a world driven by digital solutions, emerging technologies continue to affect the way we live, work, and interact with one another. Many of these technological changes are great: they increase our productivity, make the services we need more accessible, and, overall, make our lives easier. However, they often challenge us to change our habits and routines too. So, are we prepared for what’s coming next?
Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, Internet of things (IoT), blockchain, cybersecurity and big data have the potential to make products and services widely accessible, especially to those who currently struggle to use them. For instance, online banking can greatly benefit individuals living in rural areas; online shopping or voting can help people with decreased mobility; online learning or teleworking might be a solution for parents looking for their children at home or others with care responsibilities. Technological advancement will also make it easier to connect with our loved ones despite big distances, improve our quality of life and help us make more environmentally conscious choices.
Certainly, emerging technologies will define our professional lives too. Increasing automation of repetitive and boring tasks will boost our productivity and efficiency at work, giving us more time and capacity to focus on more high-value, performance-focused activities. Remote working facilitated by technological solutions could allow us to land a dream job without moving to another country or travel the world without putting our career on hold. Although more manual jobs are likely to disappear, the labour market will open to a vast range of completely new opportunities – jobs defined and driven by emerging technologies.
Although more manual jobs are likely to disappear, the labour market will open to a vast range of completely new opportunities – jobs defined and driven by emerging technologies.
For business processes, there are several major advantages to consider too. Already now businesses use many digital solutions like applications and websites to attract customers. By 2030, around 70% of companies worldwide will have adopted at least one type of AI technology, with other emerging technologies being simultaneously implemented at great speed. Technological solutions will hence continue to automate and innovate our work.
In manufacturing, robots can be used to boost productivity and optimise the quality of goods, while AI algorithms might be adopted to find the quickest shipment route and support delivery processes. In healthcare, robotics is applied when performing complex surgeries, AI is used to diagnose diseases, virtual reality serves as a tool to help patients cope with pain, and big data become relevant in addressing public health crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic. AI solutions are also of advantage in the agricultural sector - they can be set in place to analyse weather patterns to optimise crops and to reduce food production costs. In the meantime, electronic trading platforms, robot-advisers and cryptocurrencies based on blockchain are transforming the financial sector. We can expect that similar tools and new business models will be implemented across all sectors to facilitate everyday operations, boost companies’ performance, and offer competitive innovation-driven products and services.
Of course, emerging technologies might bring about certain risks as well. Cyberattacks, phishing, data protection issues or data theft, fake news or payment security – these are the aspects that we will need to deal with more often in the future, both in our work capacity and in personal lives.
All this can sound exciting and challenging at the same time. Getting used to this technological shift might take a moment, but the sooner we start, the sooner we will be able to benefit from all that emerging technologies have to offer.
So how do we future-proof our life and careers and support the innovation of our business processes? With knowledge and curiousness. Implement the lifelong learning principle, keep a curious mind, and continue to improve knowledge and competences for ourselves and our teams and organisations.
Digital SkillUp is a great place to start.
McKinsey Global Institute (2018), Discussion Paper. Notes from the AI frontier. Modeling the impact of AI on the world economy, [Accessed 10 February 2021].