As the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) sets in, there are certain concerns that need to be addressed. However, the solutions also lie in itself: using technology to alleviate these issues and contribute to society in a growth-oriented way.
One of these concerns is the skills gap – the gap between what employers want or need their employees to be able to do, and what those employees can actually do, as defined by Forbes.
Necip Ozyucel, cloud and enterprise group lead at Microsoft Gulf, told Khaleej Times at the recent Gitex Technology Week 2018 that it is difficult to quantify the skills gap: he cited the World Economic Forum’s ‘Future of Jobs’ report, which examined the impact of the 4IR on our children’s careers.
“One prediction from that report, which has almost become a meme, is that two in three children starting school this year will be working in professional roles that have yet to be created,” he points out.
To narrow this, there are certain steps that must be taken.
“The key here is to recognise what imminent future events might catalyse change,” he stressed.
For example, he says, an upsurge in demand for cloud services can prompt firms to building data centres – Microsoft has one each in Dubai and Abu Dhabi – which will create jobs not just for tech professionals.
The World Bank says that for each technology job created, around 4.3 jobs are generated across occupations and income groups. And research conducted by the International Data Corporation shows that cloud computing and the Microsoft ecosystem set to create more than 520,000 jobs across the MEA between 2017 and 2022. If we take the World Bank figure – times 4.3 – in perspective, this could mean over two million jobs in the MEA in just over five years.
Education is also key to bring down this gap: using technology: “Reinventing the classroom. and other professional courses allow anyone, at any age, to skill, reskill and upskill as needed – in the cloud, AI and many other sought-after areas,” Ozyucel says.
The revolution we are in today also provides opportunities for companies to innovate further, which would in turn be beneficial to end-users – especially if binding these emerging technologies together.
“The 4IR is the acceleration in adoption of solutions that merge the digital and the physical,” Ozyucel says.
“Government and private enterprises have all benefitted from the ability to engage citizens and customers, empower public servants and employees, optimise operations, and reinvent products, services and business models.”
Retailers, he says, have the power to build 360-degree views of customers to give demanding millennials and Generation Z exactly the kind of individual and personalised service they expect.
Financial services entities, meanwhile, can build intelligent, predictive models that advise on every aspect of investment and can suggest new products for changing markets, while manufacturers can monitor the entire production process, from raw materials to warehousing and logistics, tying factory equipment to the back office for real-time views of efficiency.
And governments – Dubai and the UAE’s being a prime example – can streamline workflows, eliminate bureaucracy and build smarter, safer societies.
Ozyucel pointed to two emerging technologies that will primarily drive this transformation.
“Artificial intelligence is by far the most prominent of the transformative technologies available to organisations today,” he says, giving Rammas, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s chatbot, as a very good example, dealing with customers both in English and Arabic.
The Internet of Things, meanwhile, “is playing a starring role in the digital transformation of manufacturing companies in the region”.
“Sensors in installed products not only enable the cost-saving concept of preventative maintenance – but have given rise to the highly-profitable servitisation business model, where companies can increase unit margins by bundling value-added services with each product sold.”