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Why technology cannot phase out good talent

By Tabitha Areba

When I was in university and needed to withdraw cash from my bank account, I had to board a vehicle to the nearest town to access the nearest branch. The nearest town in my case was about 50 km from school and planning for the trip consumed quite a considerable amount of time and resources. At the commencement of a semester, I had to make another trip from home to the bank and queue for hours on end just to check if Higher Education Loans Board had released funds. During those days, queuing in banks was normal and people rarely complained about long waiting hours. Infact, banking was associated with opulence and class. This was the period when phones were slowly creeping in to the country and only a few, well-off students had the ownership privilege. The advent of technology has come with disruption to almost every aspect of life – from the way we communicate to how we spend money, learn, work, eat, buy and sell, get treated, just about anything and everything. You do not need cash to purchase even vegetables worth less than KSh100 or less.

I had a chat with a relative in university and was amazed at how easy life is now compared to a decade and a half ago. From banking to learning and even networking, life is all about technology. While having a laptop during our days was a luxury or a business tool, each university student is now required to own a laptop.

The future

While digitalisation has made it easier to engage in everything, we must prioritise humans (not robots) for a competitive advantage. This is according to a recent report by Mercer titled People First: Driving Growth in Emerging Megacities. The report notes that we must design technology with humans at the centre. Indeed, digitalisation is reducing the cost of engaging in international trade, connecting businesses and consumers globally. It is undeniably true that the digital transformation force will again disrupt the future of everything – including the workplace and trade – in a big way. According to McKinsey, approximately 14 per cent of the global workforce will be forced to change their career paths. This means that a total of 375 million professionals will be forced to either upskill or reskill.

An article published in Mercer`s Voice on Growth blog quotes Tamara McCleary, Founder and CEO of Thulium saying, “While technology may be an economic accelerator in the future of work, people are still the core drivers of sustained productivity.” This is because machines, robots, automation, and everything that will come with digital transformation will need people.  With people, technology and the emerging megacities, Mercer notes that companies should be built around people as there will always be a place for good talent.

Tabitha Areba is the Manager, Publications, Branding and Research at the Kenya Institute of Management. Email: tareba@kim.ac.ke

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