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32% of global CEOs expect a short-term increase in headcount

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As more businesses adopt cognitive technologies to gain better customer insights, short-term headcount growth can be expected, revealed KPMG International’s 2017 Global CEO Outlook.

Featuring interviews with almost 1,300 CEOs of the world’s largest companies, the report found that across certain roles, about a third of of Singapore CEOs (25%), of ASEAN CEOs (27%), and global CEOs (32%) expected a slight increase in headcount across certain roles, with a majority revealing that cognitive technologies will drive a short-term increase in these roles.

While it is no surprise that 69% of global CEOs expected cognitive technology to result in an overall increase in IT roles, interestingly, 52% also expected an overall increase in HR roles.

How cognitive technology will affect headcount ove next 3 years - KPMG


However, Lisa Heneghan, global head of technology, management consulting, KPMG, warned that the rise in headcount will not be permanent. “At the moment, businesses are using digital labor primarily to improve the experience for their clients,” she explained.

“The biggest driver is often times not cost reduction and, until it is, we won’t see them making big changes to their workforce strategy. That will take more time.”

She highlighted that another factor to be resolved, before businesses use cognitive technologies to reduce employee numbers, is one of trust.

“If you’re relying on software to make the decisions for you, at what point can you trust that those decisions are going to be the right ones?” Heneghan asked. “You only build that over time.”

Additionally, the CEOs surveyed found that instead of managing technical issues around the technology itself, attracting highly skilled talent is the top challenge when it comes to implementing cognitive technologies.

The report further revealed that among the top five technology barriers over the next three years, two revolved around the workforce – attracting new strategic talent, and reskilling the current workforce.

Chief technology barriers - KPMG

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