The rapid innovation of technology, globalization, and global crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical unrest in different parts of the world, has had an impact on different industries, organizations, and professions. The technological innovation has led to the introduction and integration of new technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data (BD), machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), block chain, and Metaverse to name a few. Likewise, global crisis has had a significant impact on different industries and organizations. One of the common impacts was related to the supply chain, such as the shortage of raw or finished products, which can be attributed to labor shortage, and so on. Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of December 2021, about 5.9 million people left their jobs. This could have had a direct or indirect impact on the supply chain.
With the shortage of labor and advancement in technologies, it may be easy to jump to the idea of replacing humans with technology. However, this can be counterproductive because humans bring certain elements to the table that technologies cannot. Therefore, businesses must focus on working alongside of technology. Managing alongside of technology is how we use the different technological tools at our disposal while developing proper infrastructure to ensure organizational health remains high (Trinkle et al, 2021). This implies the use of technology, not to replace humans, but to work alongside of humans to support the mission, vision, and objectives of the organization. Some of these technologies include data analytics for data-driven decision making, the use of data to improve artificial intelligence through machine learning algorithms, and automation.
Among other things, managing alongside of technology also entails focusing on digital transformation, which is the managed adaptation of digitalization, emphasizing the change aspect when introducing technology into a company environment (Trenkle, 2020). This necessitates the need for having a digital transformation strategy to leverage the use of new technologies and technological processes. However, the strategy is not the end result, but it is a way to meet strategic objectives (Burger, 2017). Therefore, managers and leaders must play a great role in the development of digital transformation strategies, and they must look beyond their vertical chain of command and have a holistic view of the whole organization.
Managing alongside of technology will entail working with artificial intelligence (AI) in finding solutions to problems more efficiently so employees can focus on the human aspect of their roles (Trinkle et al, 2021). Morgan (2020, p. 39) found that many of the CEOs are optimistic about the impact of technology and AI on leadership because it may free up their time to focus on people within their organizations. This would mean increased productivity & efficiency; and according to PMI (2021), benefits of increased productivity correlate with a higher GDP (p. 12).
With massive technological shifts in AI, ML, and automation, comes the need for the workforce to become increasingly more intelligent (Trinkle et al, 2022). While AI continues to improve, one cannot ignore that AI cannot always be perfect, and it is only as good as the algorithms that were used to develop it. These algorithms can be flawed, and there is also a potential of AI bias. Therefore, humans must be able to recognize possible AI errors and take corrective actions. Hence, leaders and managers must not only stay educated on the latest technologies, but also know how to best engage their teams while using them. (Trinkle et al, 2021).
In order for humans to work with technology, it is important that organizations invest in employee capabilities and development, not only to support their growth but to support the growth of the organization.
Therefore, leaders must take time for their own professional development to learn about the leading technologies and how these technologies can reshape their respective industry. Aside from their own personal and professional development, leadership must also focus on the capabilities or professional development of their employees. Capabilities such as collaboration and leadership skills, business acumen to create well-rounded employees; usage of tech-enhanced tools (PMI, 2021, p. 13) are among many that support business and organizations’ growth. McKinsey (2020) found that 78% of the business leaders thought that building capability is “very or extremely important” for their organization’s growth.
With the continuous innovation of technologies, the role of managers and leaders will continue to evolve, and they must be ready to lead alongside of technologies. New career opportunities may be developed for people to execute their roles effectively alongside of technology. Companies are already developing algorithms for matching prospective employees (Trinkle et al, 2021). This can support both the growth of the company as well as the employees. Organizations can utilize different effective and creative ways to incorporate technology in the business environment. However, with all the excitement around digital transformation, organizations must also recognize the role of human beings in the success of the business, and organizations must allocate resources to continuously improve the human connection.
Burger, Bas (2017). Leading from the front CEO perspectives on business transformation in the digital age. Retrieved April 08, 2022.
Capgemini Consulting (2012). The digital advantage: How digital leaders outperform their peers in every industry. Retrieved April 08, 2022.
McKinsey & Company (2020). Rethink capabilities to emerge stronger from COVID-19. Retrieved March 09, 2022.
Morgan, J. (2020). The future leaders: 9 skills and mindsets to succeed in thenext decade. Hoboken: Wiley.
Project Management Institute [PMI] (2021). Talent gap: Ten-year employment trends, costs, and global implications.
Trinkle, D. A., Green, C., Nouhan, C., and Faria, P. (2021). The CICS 2020: Horizon Report. Center for Information and Communications Sciences, Ball State University: Munice, IN.
Trenkle, J (2020). Digital transformation in small and medium-sized enterprises: Strategy, management control, and network involvement. Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co