The impact of COVID-19 on the global economy, and the surprisingly rapid reconstruction of the workforce in response, are unexpectedly changing our perception of the world of the future. Remote work, new employee skills, business trips replaced by video meetings, flexible work schedules, service automation, accelerated digitalisation: how ready are you to respond to the challenge of transformation and implement even more changes in 2021?

To survive the digital revolution, businesses will have to rethink the idea of the traditional workforce: its composition, the number of employees and their role in the company. This requires companies to understand the potential for future digital changes to the economy and then determine how people and machines will work together to increase productivity, the value of products and services, and the competitiveness of their business.

We expect that traditional functions and projects will be "atomised"; they will be broken down into more granular tasks and functions, with these discrete tasks distributed between machines and people. At the same time, transferring certain primitive components of tasks to artificial intelligence won’t cause a significant increase in productivity in itself. We expect that machines will be delegated increasingly complex tasks that require cognitive functions; such as medical diagnoses, credit approvals, legal analysis, and so on.

Of course, you could argue that this is some distant, future scenario. But what have we witnessed in the pandemic? In terms of digitalisation, the pandemic’s shock to the economy has accelerated the introduction of BigData, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence on a global scale, faster than anyone could have expected. 

The most significantly affected industry in many developed countries has been the healthcare sector, which has had to respond very quickly to the challenges of COVID-19. However, this sector will still need to radically improve the use of the AI and predictive analytics in order to be better prepared for the unexpected and complex challenges that we will see in the future. Many other industries, including jurisprudence, financial services, or B2C products need to follow this example and be just as prepared for change.

Personnel management will play a more important role in this process than ever before. Artificial intelligence must permeate the entire organisation, from top to bottom (and vice versa), in terms of technology, people, data and processes. Personnel management will play one of the key roles in the process of implementing these changes.

If you still think these changes won't affect your business, here's the data published by California Institute of the Future (IFTF). IFTF experts predicts that 85 percent of the jobs that may exist in 2030 have not yet been created. The need for new skills will be huge. At the same time, the differentiation of employee job functions and the introduction of AI will undermine traditional career paths for professions like bankers, accountants, back-office employees and other corporate functions. 

The introduction of digital thinking can help reduce the problems associated with the ‘atomisation’ of work caused by the destruction of outdated structures and the process of creating new roles, tasks and jobs. In the ‘KPMG Reinventing work’ report, we formulated four key principles of digital thinking that should be followed when creating new roles and tasks in the context of implementing AI and digital technologies.

Download the ninth issue of KPMG Review Magazine "The future of work" (PDF 6 MB, pages 23-25)

The future of work

KPMG Review Magazine #9

Download this issue
(PDF 6 MB)