4. Shift towards an integrated digital and human workforce
Our survey research shows that the broad adoption of the Industrial Internet in many industries will lead to a structural shift in employment (see Figure 5). A vast majority (94%) of respondents believe that the increasing use of smart products, intelligent assistants and robots will fundamentally transform what skills and jobs are required in the future. As machines become more intelligent, they will play new and more important roles in many types of work situations. Companies will use machines and network systems to automate tasks that can be done at lower costs and higher quality levels. At the same time, such automation will free up people to focus on the more human elements of their jobs like creative problem-solving and collaboration. The combination of humans and machines will be the winning formula, yielding higher overall productivity and a more dynamic, engaging human work experience.
In time, the Industrial Internet will drive the world towards a blended workforce, where it is no longer humans versus machines but humans with machines, working together to deliver outcomes that neither could produce alone.32 By designing and applying technology to empower rather than replace people, this “human-centred automation”33 or augmentation can redefine existing jobs and give rise to new ones. It will also reshape how skills will be acquired – an area that will become critical as a result of the rapid pace of change in digital technologies.