Our future is digital. And our future workforce is too. The next generation coming into the workplace have never known a time without computers, without the internet and without social media pervading all areas of their lives. This generation are our future, and companies will have to adapt to accommodate them. Traditional business models and hierarchies will be forced to turn on their heads as the younger, digital generation transform the way we work and communicate. The digital revolution will take no prisoners. No stone will be left unturned. Even the most traditional employers will have to readjust their ways of working, or face the financial consequences.
In Britain and across Europe governments are waking up to this realisation and recruiting ‘tech tsars’ to guide policy. In the UK the newest business adviser and special envoy for Fintech (the branch of the tech sector set to transform financial services, from mobile banking and money transfers to fundraising and even asset management) Eileen Burbidge will spearhead technical innovation in The City. This will send ripples and permeate into all areas of business. Recent research from Accenture acknowledges that we’re on the brink of change. It found that 78% of business leaders it spoke to were expecting to have digital organisations within three years.
Our new workforce will become data experts – whether they’re collating it, analysing it, using it to inform new ways of working, creating new products or producing content as a result of it. E-Skills UK has noticed a 20% rise in demand for workers that can utilise big data in just one year. In 2013 57% of recruiters were looking for employees with data skills. A year later in 2014 this figure stood at 77%. Subject matter expertise, data & technical skills, maths & statistical knowledge, problem solving, storytelling, collaboration, communication, creativity are some of the big data skills sets needed. Some of the newest billion dollar companies, such as the free music app Shazam, have built their empires on data.
Here are five other ways we’re working digitally:
Digital banking: Britain’s Barclay’s Bank is leading the way in digitizing high street banking. Its Ping-it mobile money transfer banking app is being used, on average, 24 times a month by its customers. In contrast these people are only visiting high street branches on average two times a month. Former cashiers are being retrained to become community bankers. Armed with iPads they will now help customers use their automated machine and train people to use their banking tech rather than sit behind a counter. Britain’s first digital-only bank, Atom, was launched this year with a mission to become the Uber of online banking. It wants to change people’s attitude to banks and technology. They want their banking app to become ‘an ever present companion’.
Digital philosophy: Brighton’s train station unveiled its digital equivalent of Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall last month. In the name of philosophy The Waiting Wall is giving Brighton’s commuters a window of opportunity to air their deepest and darkest thoughts without revealing their identity. The display, which runs from September 21 to September 27, was inspired by the author and philosopher Alain de Botton who said: "The wall would offer a basic yet infinitely comforting – public acknowledgement that … none us are alone in the extent of our troubles." The messages that have been posted so far range from deeply personal stories to general musings about life.
Digital fashion: London’s reputation as the world’s fashion capital is being further cemented as British designers experiment with tech. September’s London fashion week saw a model walking down the catwalk wearing a “Tinkerbell” slip dress made from fibre optic fabric activated by high intensity LEDs within it. Its creator Richard Nicolls teamed up with London-based fashion and technology company Studio X with the aim of bridging the gap between fashion and technology and making ‘wearables’ more wearable.
Digital jewellery: British fashionista Kate Unsworth has started her own wearable tech company, Kovert Designs. She and her partner design and make necklaces and rings dubbed “smart jewellery” aimed at ‘cutting out the noise in your life and only alerting you to the stuff that matters’, she said in a recent interview. The jewellery connects to your smartphone and it will buzz if you receive notifications/messages from people that really matter. The jewellery is programmed to detect predetermined keywords set by the wearer.
Digital cleaning services: Hassle.com is not actually a digital cleaner, more of a digital service that marries up your need for a cleaner with a reliable person who can do the work in your area. Akin to match.com, its co-founder Alex Depledge, says her company allows people to find, book and pay for independent cleaners online. All cleaners on their books are rigorously vetted to alleviate trust concerns. Depledge, who won tech entrepreneur of the year in 2014, founded the digital company on the principle of taking the hassle out of employing a cleaner.