Business Transformation

How to Unify Humans & Machines

Almost all communications service providers (CSPs) have made some progress on their transformational journey to becoming digital CSPs that can prosper in the future. They know they must reclaim the market share snatched by the digital natives in recent years. But to do that, it is essential that CSPs become businesses that provide an integrated, engaging omni-channel experience for customers. And that task requires intelligent automation and advanced data analytics.

A recent Accenture report found that 77% of communications industry CXOs believe that adopting intelligent technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) will be critical to their organization's ability to differentiate and compete in the market. Therefore, it is clear that the understanding of the imperative to transform and take advantage of new and innovative technologies is there. But unfortunately, it's not just about simply investing in, and transitioning to, modern technologies such as AI to get to a place where they can compete effectively.

To contend in the longer term, companies must align their workforce with the new business model; otherwise, it will simply be set up to fail. Organizational agility is a strategic imperative, but there is a fundamental disconnect in the workforce of today between the status quo and employees equipped to meet the needs of a digital CSP in the future.

Unlike the doomsday scenarios some have predicted, intelligent automation will increase career opportunities and the nature of the work will become more flexible and adaptive. AI and intelligent automation can absorb many of the transactional and repetitive activities that workers do today to focus on more strategic and valuable initiatives.

Business leaders must scrap the rulebook of traditional job titles and transition employees to areas that unlock new forms of value. This means changing the culture to one that is more flexible and collaborative, that encourages innovation and enables employees to learn constantly and have customer centricity and a growth mindset at the core.

With the changing culture comes a shift to re-skilling workers and embracing modern technology. The good news is that employees are positive about the change that innovative technologies offer. Some 63 percent of CSP workers believe intelligent technologies will make a positive impact on their work, while 77% believe smart technologies will save them time on their tasks. Employees even believe that introducing intelligent technology to the workforce will produce a better work-life balance for them.

Despite this optimism, however, investment in re-skilling people is not happening much today and many of those organizations that do offer training are actually asking employees to take it in their own time. Of course, some workers will sign up, but many understandably, would not. This is a challenge that CSP leaders must address immediately, because if employees are not equipped with the right skills -- and quickly -- then they won't be able to make the transition to a digital CSP quickly enough to regain the market share that has been eroding at an astonishing rate.

Here are three recommendations for evolving the workforce to have a team in place that is equipped for today and to flourish in the years ahead:

  • Re-imagine Work by reconfiguring work from the bottom up. Assess tasks, not jobs; then allocate tasks to machines and people, balancing the need to automate work and to elevate people’s capabilities.

  • Pivot the Workforce to areas that unlock new forms of value. Go beyond process efficiencies and prepare employees create new customer experiences. Fuel new growth models by reinvesting the savings derived from automation into the future workforce. Foster a new leadership DNA that underpins the mindset, acumen and agility required to seize longer-term, transformational opportunities.

  • Scale up "New Skilling." Measure workers' level of skills and willingness to learn to work with AI. Using digital platforms, target programs at these different segments of the workforce and personalize them to improve new skills adoption.

A re-defined business model, supported by the right workforce, could open the door to a new, promising world for the CSP; one that many will desperately want to be a part of. It’s time to make this change, today.

— Francesco Venturini, Global Industry Managing Director for Communications & Media, Accenture

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