What are the trends driving the future of business?

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Who will do the work: robots or humans?

So advanced has technology become, it’s easy to think we’re being overtaken by innovation. Yet to hide in fear of a jobless apocalypse is to focus only on one side of a complex argument. Flip this on its head, and we see that technology could help define and complement the ‘human’ in all of us.

But to do so, we must ask ourselves: What does it really mean to be human? What do we need to thrive in this changing world? And how can we use technology to amplify – not overtake – our uniquely human traits?

When people are experiencing change, they feel uncertain, fearful – as if they’re in the midst of a storm. Finding their purpose will give them the anchor they need, not only to survive the storm – but also to thrive in it. In Unilever, we’ve committed to helping every single one of our employees find their purpose as part of the programme covering 4Ps: Purpose, Performance, Potential and a Personalised plan. We know that companies with purpose last, brands with purpose grow, and people with purpose thrive.

How often do we hear that the half-life of a skill today is two and a half years? That today’s primary school children will do a job that doesn’t yet exist? And that our jobs will soon be stolen by robots? But people are inherently wired to learn. So by investing in lifelong learning, businesses can re-skill everyone and prepare them for the future.

We get our people to explore their own curiosity by allowing them to personalise their learning process. Have a coffee with a colleague, take a course, have some coaching, join an online programme… and we’ve invested in a system that curates and personalises learning content for everyone. Here technology is an important enabler, augmenting our natural curiosity.

The final piece when we talk about being more human is our need to feel understood and valued as individuals. In a digital world, a one-size-fits-all approach would no more work for different brands than it would attract different customers. Technology can be used to put people in the driving seat, giving them more choice over how and where they work – and how they’re rewarded for it. It can even eliminate unconscious bias during our recruitment process, making for a more diverse, personalized and fairer world in which we can all thrive.

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