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The future. Rarely in the history of modern industry has there been so much emphasis on the ability to anticipate the future, on the need to be able to call out trends in environments – external and internal, and to accelerate internal preparation. And for good reason.
While Covid has been a stark reminder of how easily externalities can disrupt all businesses and upend society, it is the horizontal transformer – technology – that is causing the greatest change and the greatest opportunity.
Why, you might ask, should one be overtly concerned about keeping up with technology – it is ultimately an enabler; greater “technological disruptions” accelerated tectonic shifts – and industries coped and thrived. The difference this time is in the speed and accessibility of computing power at one level, and even more, in the ability to converge various technologies. This in turn enables a complete shift in business models and ecosystems. Quantum leaps are now possible at both industry and societal levels.
Each of the 81 companies that responded to the Fortune India and Work Universe study on future employment trends recognize this. And that’s what makes them employers of the future. Each has a strategy centered on anticipating the future with a focus on the customer, but each is also transforming internally, on the back of technological convergence, into companies capable of responding to accelerated change. And therein lies a lasting competitive advantage.
Competitiveness aside, how will organizations thrive in the future? The answers are as old as time and as new as “new technologies”. Ultimately, this is the age of the human. The people who make up the fabric of our businesses, moral and competitive. The people whose needs we serve as customers. These people want a connection above all else. To purpose, to meaning – a thread that ties inclusiveness as much as it allows individuality.
Leadership is the key differentiator and the demand from leaders is what it has always been – credible leadership that can inspire, but more importantly, that can lead by example, with teams and employees who will be part of a Talent’s New World Wide Web. Successful companies will be led by leaders, who have a holistic view and are focused on a goal to which high performing individuals will align. Leaders who can spot a risk/opportunity and pivot the business model and organizational design in time will be the only ones to succeed. No one has time for mediocre leadership. It’s an oxymoron. Moreover, companies will thrive because they truly experience co-creation – with customers to create the products and services of the future, and with teams to enable collaborative loops of innovation.
But none of this is easy. All of this is critical. Not just for the Indian industry to be globally relevant, but for the nation as a whole. India’s need to transform its employment and employability model is enormous. We are the youngest population in the world, but as older populations progress, there will be large segments of need (and opportunity, from a consumption and employment perspective).
Thus, any institution that seeks to create value by disrupting the evolution of standards must be recognized. A new world of work is upon us. It’s time to embrace change with the mindset of abundance, but also mindfulness. To the individual effort is linked a collective future.
We are at an inflection point – India has been many times throughout its journey as a nation. This one however, is where we, the current generation, will have to rely. The quality of the businesses we build, the willingness with which we lead innovation and even invention, and how we respond to the urgency to focus on sustainability will define this generation. The choice of this definition is up to us.
Radha Ahluwalia is General Partner, Work Universe.