Dell Technologies study reveals a divided vision of the future

Optimism and anxiety coexist as businesses come to terms with an AI-fuelled digital future

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Dell Technologies study reveals a divided vision of the future Amin: "It is becoming increasingly clear that businesses can either transform their IT, workforce, and security and play a defining role in the future or be left behind.”
By  David Ndichu Published  April 9, 2018

Business leaders are torn in regards to the effects of automation on the enterprise, according to a recent Dell Technologies study.

Half of the 3,800 global business leaders surveyed forecast that automated systems will free up their time, including a majority of leaders in the UAE and KSA. Similarly, 55% of regional leaders believe they’ll have more job satisfaction in the future by offloading tasks to machines.

However, regional opinions are split by whether the future represents an opportunity or a threat, and torn by the need to mitigate these risks.

For instance, 50% say the more we depend upon technology, the more we’ll have to lose in the event of a cyber-attack; the other half aren’t concerned at all. Additionally, 58% of business leaders are calling for clear protocols in the event that autonomous machines fail; while 42% abstained. And 51% say computers will need to decipher between good and bad commands; 49% don’t see a need

Mohammed Amin, senior vice president, META, Dell EMC, said this differing viewpoint could make it difficult for organisations to prepare for the future and certainly hamper leaders’ efforts to push through necessary change.

A previous Dell Technologies’ study, ‘Realising 2030: The Next Era of Human-Machine Partnerships’ forecasted that by 2030, emerging technologies will forge human partnerships with machines that are richer and more immersive than ever before, helping us surpass our limitations.

Business leaders agree: 87% of respondents from the region expect humans and machines will work as integrated teams within their organisation inside of five years.

Concerning business tasks which would be outsourced to machines by 2030, leaders in the region listed marketing and communications and product design as most likely, followed by human resources and financial administration , logistics or supply chain, and customer service and troubleshooting.  

Given the promise of monumental change—fuelled by exponentially increasing data and the applications, processing power and connectivity to harness it—63% in the region speculate that schools will need to teach how to learn rather than what to learn to prepare students for jobs that don’t yet exist. This thinking corroborates the previous study’s forecast that 85% of jobs that will exist globally in 2030 haven’t been invented yet.

Furthermore, many businesses aren’t moving fast enough, and going deep enough, to overcome common barriers to operating as a successful digital business. Only 27% of regional businesses believe they are leading the way, ingraining digital in all they do. Nearly half (45%) don’t know whether they’ll be able to compete over the next decade, and the majority (68%) of businesses are struggling to keep-up with the pace of change.

The lack of workforce readiness was identified as the leading barrier to becoming a successful digital business in 2030, further emphasising the need for skill development among existing employees and future generations. A majority of leaders in the region (73%) also identified the lack of a digital vision and strategy as a prominent barrier. These were followed by the barriers of technology constraints (61%), time and money (47%) and finally law and regulations (22%).

Leaders may be divided in their view of the future and facing barriers to change, but they’re united in the need to transform. In fact, the vast majority of businesses believe they’ll be well on their way to transforming within five years, despite the challenges they face.

“While half of the business leaders in the region are unsure of what the next ten to fifteen years look like for their industry and are struggling with the quick pace of change, a large majority are looking at embracing change and new technologies in their digital business plans for the next five years,” Amin added.

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