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How to stay ahead in the digital space

The pace of technological change in the workplace means nothing is certain any more, so how do you set yourself, and your teams, up for success?

How to stay ahead in the digital space

Look at any business and you can hardly fail to see the impact that technology and innovation are having. Technology is radically changing the world around us, and many companies are struggling to adapt to a future where hyper-informed and digital-savvy consumers increasingly expect better, faster and, in many cases, cheaper services. One thing is for sure, the tricks you relied on to ‘get by’ just ten years ago are quickly becoming obsolete in a world where AI, automation and machine learning are radically changing your daily working life. 

Not since the industrial revolution has the future of work been more uncertain. Just last year, Forrester predicted that AI-enabled automation alone will eliminate 9% of US jobs in 2018. Longer term, it’s predicted that 65% of children currently in their first year of school in the UK will work in careers that don’t even exist yet (Raconteur, 2017). So, in a technology driven world, how do you keep up? And, if you fail to adapt, what will be the price of failure? 

What’s the rush?
Toys ‘R’ Us. Phones4U. BHS. Blockbuster. Comet. Woolworths. Some of the best-known brands in the UK and worldwide have fallen by the wayside over the past ten years. While the reasons for their closure may vary, these organisations had one thing in common: they failed to stay relevant.

The need for a transformative mindset, being able to re-tool and pivot fast, will be crucial for any organisation or individual wishing to remain competitive. Could you be a VRchitect in ten years’ time? Or perhaps trend aggregation will be your bag? Maybe you will excel as a Retail Persuader? It’s hard to predict what future jobs there will be, but you’ll certainly need more tools in your toolbox if you want to keep up. As a business, creating a culture of continuous learning, promoting flexible training and encouraging inquisitive mindsets will be essential in preparing your teams to meet the future challenge. 

Employees vote with their feet
It’s not just the risk to your bottom line. A recent Hays survey found that 39% of employees would be willing to pass up a job offer if there was no prospect of receiving further training. ‘Continuous upskilling’ and ‘lifelong learning’ might seem like L&D buzzwords, but they are now an expectation rather than a perk for employees. The lack of education around digital is a huge threat to business and companies are only now realising what it will mean if they don’t bring their employees along for the ride. Fail to look after your staff and you risk them following your customers out of the door. 

Remember, it’s OK not to understand everything about digital – you’re not going to become an instant expert. But try to bluff your way through this while everyone else upskills around you and you’re going to get caught out. 

The future of the workplace has never been more uncertain, and the way you do business has already changed. Give yourself and your teams the skills they need to succeed... or join the irrelevant.

Richard Townsend is chief executive and co-founder of Circus Street.

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