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Technologies that will impact modern business survival

Group Chief Customer Office, Dialog Axiata PLC; Chairperson, SLASSCOM

You’ve heard this before — the rate of technological change is accelerating. It’s unpredictable and unprecedented.

Developments in previously disjointed fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and genetics and biotechnology are all building on and amplifying one another . . . On average, by 2025, more than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to the job today.

The key to surviving this new industrial revolution is leading it. That requires two key elements of agile businesses: awareness of disruptive technology and a plan to develop talent that can make the most of it.

1. Mobile Internet Interfaces, formats, sensors and apps will evolve as mobile computing devices dominate internet connectivity. By 2025, mobile connectivity could be accessed by an additional 4.3 billion people.

2. Artificial Intelligence Machine learning and user interfaces such as speech and gesture recognition technology will advance to increase productivity or eliminate some knowledge work altogether.

3. Cloud technology One of the biggest buzzwords of the last decade will continue to impact the next. Nearly all IT services and web apps could be delivered through the cloud with more enterprises using the public cloud as cyber security improves.

4. Internet of Things More than 9 billion devices are currently connected to the internet – that number is estimated to grow between 50 billion to nearly 1 trillion in the next decade. Organizations will face monitoring and securing products, systems, devices and even people.

5. Advanced robotics Advances in artificial intelligence, machine vision, sensors, motors, hydraulics and materials will change the way products and services are delivered. A surge in tech talent for building, operating and maintaining advanced robots will occur.

6. Biometric technology This will give rise to new authorization services for face, voice, eye, hand and signature identification.

7. 3D printing 3D printing could enable unprecedented levels of mass customization and dramatically reduce the cost of supply chains generating an estimated economic impact of $230 to $550 billion annually by 2025.

8. Genomics Genetic engineering technology will grow with faster computer processing speeds. DNA sequencing technologies and advanced analytics will improve agricultural production, reduce reliance on fossil fuels and extend human life expectancy.

9. Quantum computing The application and adoption of quantum computing is unclear, but the technology is moving beyond the hype. Google’s Quantum AI Laboratory predicts that small quantum technologies will be commercially available in five years and will help businesses increase revenue, reduce costs and lower investments in infrastructure.

10. The 2025 workforce: Enterprise learning required These technologies could have huge benefits for many companies – but they will also create big challenges. As such the nature of work will continue to change, and that will require strong education and retraining programs.

Across nearly all industries, the impact of technological and other changes is shortening the shelf-life of employees’ existing skill sets. . . . The talent to manage, shape and lead the changes underway will be in short supply unless we take action today to develop it. Businesses therefore will need to put talent development and future workforce strategy front and center to their growth. Firms can no longer be passive consumers of ready-made human capital. They require a new mindset to meet their talent needs.

Therefore, whilst it can be predicted that technology will play a pivotal role in helping companies of the future succeed, the only question is, how will they use technology, and what forms will it take? Whatever the industry, being augmented by digital tools—the results are bound to be fascinating.

SLASSCOM works collaboratively with the government, academia (state and non-state) and industry to transform the General Education, Higher Education and Professional & Vocational Education sectors to build capacity and skills to achieve the target of creating 200,000 highly skilled workforce by 2025. SLASSCOM with a view to continually scale up the skills and capacity facilitates tailor made programs to develop a future ready work force. Insights from surveys on employable skills and skills of the future are shared with all stakeholders in education and industry enabling the talent to be relevant and future-fit global technocrats.

Identifying future growth areas, SLASSCOM has launched the Product & Platform Council, AI Centre of Excellence, Cyber Security Centre of Excellence, and the IPA/RPA Centre of Excellence as industry accelerators. The COEs will position Sri Lanka as key competency centers in the region and will contribute to exports of high value differentiated offerings. The initiative has attracted significant interest from all stakeholders including eminent Sri Lankan expatriates in academia, professional bodies and industry to expand research and innovation capabilities, create patents, and commercialize technologies.