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Focus on Re-Skilling Your Talent for the Robot Revolution

A new article published by the Wall Street Journal suggests that the robot revolution could actually create upwards of 21 million jobs (Furmans, 2017).  So, although some paint the future of robot automation as grim for the workforce, this article suggests that although some jobs may become obsolete, new ones will be created to replace them.

If your industry is being or will be effected by technology automation, the major question you should ask to stay at the top of your competitors is, what are we doing to develop our people to compete in the robot economy?

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Here are some core ideas you should focus on to stay ahead of your competitors in the robot economy:

Focus on Personalized Service Interactions

You can take away the human, but you can’t take away our desire for human interaction.  Yes, perhaps in many situations, customers have a desire for the automated service of an app, kiosk or online shopping.  But, this will never take away the need for human quality assurance.  We’re not at the point yet where we can just trust that technology has got it right.  There are still human checks and balances in place behind robot automation that assure the customer experience is exceptional.  This is where you can assure that your customer is happy -- by providing them with quality, personalized service interactions.  Read more about why a Personalization Strategy is so important for your organization here.

For example, I have noticed lately that almost all of my online shopping orders have come with a packing slip that has been personally checked by a real live human.  And often I have received a personal handwritten note of thanks for my order or for being a customer.  And you know what, I can say that 100% of those personally checked orders have been correct, and I appreciate that extra step they have taken to assure the quality of my order before it has been sent out.

Another example of a personalized service interaction is the customer experience at Sephora stores.  Their front-line employees provide you with a hands-on experience, demonstrating how the makeup and beauty products work, and offering you free samples to take home and try.  After all of this you think they would be pushing the in-person sale, but often they actually encourage you to go home and buy it online when you are ready.  They provide you with the product information/codes and a coupon for free shipping!  These are just a few examples of how you can reframe the way you think about personalized service interactions with your customer in the age of robot automation.

Focus on Innovation

You know the adage ‘think outside the box’, well that has never rung truer than in these times.  It is so important for organizations to have innovation at the core of their organizational values.  Encouraging innovation means being prepared to deal with failure.  It also means encouraging employees to speak openly and freely about their ideas.  Perhaps even giving them a platform or projects to do this.  Read some of the Best Mission Statements from Innovative Organizations here.

Some stodgier organizations may roll their eyes at the ‘hippy’ cultures at organizations like Facebook, Google, etc. where they have ping pong tables, resting pods, fun staff outings, happy hours, etc. but the fact of the matter is, these types of environments really do foster creativity and thinking differently.  And in the last decade these organizations have consistently shown to be at the top of their competitor lists.

The major disruptors of our times have been those organization that have focused their core principles on innovation, adaptation and growth.  Take for example, Netflix, and organization that first snail mailed out DVD rentals to their customers.  They have now essentially changed the entire television and film landscape and continue to develop and grow their business as media investors, creators and distributors.

Focus on Training and Re-Skilling

As an organization or an individual contributor, it is important now more than ever to focus on the learning and development of your workforce.  Your talent want to learn and grow within your organization and they want skills that make them more marketable now AND in the future.

A focus on re-skilling the workforce to compete with the demands of robot automation is critical.  Those organizations that invest in re-skilling and training their employees in times of rapidly growing and changing technology will be at the forefront of service.

Leaders should be sure to network inside and outside of their industry to keep up with (and stay ahead of) the trends.  This will allow your organization to assess where you need to update your knowledge base, and what areas you should be focusing on when it comes to learning and development of your talent.

Developing a custom eLearning program keep up with the changes and demands of your workforce is an exceptional way to offer training and development to your talent.  Just-in-time learning and microlearning, offer your employees a way to continuously grow, while not taking them off the job for lengthy periods of time.

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Jennifer Budinsky is the Director, Marketing Communications for Global Engagement Solutions whose mission is to help companies create engaging employee and customer experiences. Prior to joining GES Jennifer was the Communications and Marketing Manager at Green Living Enterprises, Canada’s leading cause marketing and event agency focused on social and environmental program development. She has a Master of Arts in Communication and Social Justice, and Bachelor of Arts Honours in Communication, Media and Film from the University of Windsor. She resides in Toronto, Ontario and spends her free time working as an actress on various television and film projects there. Jennifer is an ambassador for encouraging people to create exceptional experiences in every aspect of their lives, from work to home to play!