Trillions on offer if business can close digital gap

Businesses have been told effectively bridging the digital skills gap will deliver trillions of dollars in benefits but it will entail reskilling almost half the global workforce.

The authors of a new publication, “Intelligent Automation: Bridging the Gap Between Business and Academia” say the economic benefits of intelligent automation are vast, potentially totalling $11.5 trillion in economic growth.

Businesses and organisations need to be prepared with proactive digital strategies in order to tap into these benefits, ensuring sustained economic growth, the book asserts.

However the authors warn there are huge hurdles that the public and private sector, as well as universities must overcome if countries are to realise the full benefits of the digital revolution.

Lead co-editor Marie Myers explained: “The advent of intelligent automation presents a golden opportunity for nations worldwide. Through collaboration and forward-thinking, we are on the brink of an exciting era of prosperity and progress.

“Yet, today, very few academic institutions have the vision or dedicated resources to prepare students to work with Intelligent Automation adequately. Frankly, greater investments in this area are sorely needed – this is our future.”

The publication includes statistics that show the global digital transformation market is expected to grow from $470 billion in 2020 to $1 trillion by 2025.

But according to digital analysts, digital transformation is taking organisations twice as long, and costing at least twice as much, partly due to their workforce’s lack of digital readiness.

It added  businesses must continue to focus on the skills and capabilities of their workforce to remain competitive and keep up with the ever-changing pace of the digital era. One way to do that is to partner with academic institutions to create a steady pipeline of digitally fluent workers.

“The shift in the division of labour between humans and machines has led to digital transformation initiatives requiring new digital skills and new digital roles. While the demand for digital skills is high, the supply is low, and businesses are challenged to find individuals with the essential digital skills required,” said co-author, Carol Brace. “To close the gap, we recommend a framework that is based on a close partnership between organisations and academic institutions.”

The publication contends the digital revolution will require the reskilling of at least 50% of employees and 40% of their core skills will need updating to meet rising digital intensity and demands.

“Firms must ensure they fully understand how and where automation could fit into their organisation, explore the best and most effective ways to upskill their employees, and employ a collaborative team approach when implementing new systems and strategies,” it explained.

“I am intrigued and excited about a more automated enterprise that allows people to focus on value-added and interesting work, and leave the more mundane, routine-bound work to the bots,” Myers said. “With the current gap in digital skills in the global economy, and an increasing desire for more leisure time, few options will enable this change. However, if organisations embrace intelligent automation and generative AI, we firmly believe that the convergence of these two ground-breaking technologies will revolutionise the way we work for generations to come.”