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Pragmatic transformation for 2019: 3 trends for HR to watch

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As you get ready to bid farewell to 2018 and prepare for the new year ahead, the thought of what’s in store is bound to cross your minds. Especially at work, where the better part of five days are spent.

According to American research company Forrester’s 2019 predictions, it will be the year where transformation in the business world will go pragmatic. Leaders will have to tackle the following challenges – organisational readiness; technical debt; data governance and ageing brands – and by addressing them practically, leaders will create a more durable and potent foundation.

In particular, Forrester has predicted the following points which will capture the attention of leaders at work:

#1: Robots reimagine talent management

The introduction of automation has constantly instilled fears and predictions of job loss due to a lesser need for physical manpower. In line with that, Forrester has predicted that 7% of automatable jobs will be lost to automation.

That being said, a bigger issue seen is talent scarcity: the ability to harness the power of robots and the need to address skill shortages across different regions. To address this in 2019, robotics quotient (RQ) will be a core learning and measurement fundamental for those working alongside digital workers.

At the same time, tech-savvy leaders will use automation to address talent scarcity, focusing on hiring for “good” and building to “great” — in short, using automation to free up time, headspace, and funds to develop the needed expertise.

#2: Employee experience (EX) takes centrestage

In 2018, leaders played with the notion of large-scale cultural change, i.e. efforts created within — and governed within — the existing siloed and political business environment, which ultimately protected the status quo.

In 2019, driven by low unemployment and high quit rates, business executives will reignite change management efforts, substituting targeted EX initiatives for the previous year’s broad-based culture efforts. But the lack of coherence to the efforts will yield a mixed bag of results.

This onslaught of misguided and incomplete employee measurement efforts will degrade, rather than improve, employee experiences. In fact, the study shows that 85% of EX measurement efforts are anticipated to fail.

#3: Artificial intelligence (AI) builds a foundation

In 2018, AI was held back by three things:

  • Insufficient information architecture. AI is data-dependent and datahungry. But most firms struggle with basic data governance issues.
  • Too horizontal. Most proofs of concept either singularly tested the technology or minimally applied AI to the firm’s specific operations.
  • Too confusing. The ability to explain and audit AI is at best opaque, limiting business leaders’ ability to understand and trust what AI is doing to operations and the customer experience.

These will affect how AI plays out in the coming year.

Companies will see an improvement in data governance with the help of AI, combining intelligent tools that move data governance to a more ambient and contextual state. Further, robotics process automation (RPA) will combine with AI to create digital workers for more than 40% of businesses.

In addition, a fledgling supply-side market will surface for explainable AI to close the gap between enthusiasm and complex machine-learning algorithms with the pragmatic need for business leaders to see, predict, and understand AI.

Other predictions for 2019 include:

  • VC funding recalibrates: Martech and adtech investments will dry up as investors look to put their dollars into specific verticals.
  • Blockchain exposes advertising: Blockchain will allow advertisers to see where waste and abuse lie and how their money is spent in the media-buying supply chain.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) gets down to business: IoT in the B2B space will take off while B2C incarnations still try to find their footing.
  • The world goes to Zero (Trust): Zero Trust will become the ad hoc standard security architecture.
  • Consumer brands enter the outrage: More brands will partake in market-baiting, but most will misjudge the mechanics and make minimal impact.
  • B2B in a squeeze: B2B marketers will shift away from blunt outbound methods and reorient around customer outcomes.
  • CX remains under fire: Brands will give up on strategic CX initiatives and resort to old-school methods for short-term gains.
  • Digital goes surgical: Digital transformation will move to a pragmatic portfolio view of digital investments.
  • Purpose regains meaning: Purpose will become a strategic priority again, acting as the strategic compass for firms.
  • CMOs rebrand: CMOs will bring back brand as their top priority.
  • CIOs take the reins: CIOs will expand their remit, building a model that translates tech-led innovation into customer value.

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