How Startups Should Respond In 2018, To The Many Changes Of 2017

By Roger Gorman, CEO and Founder of ProFinda

From AI to company culture and the skills gap — Roger Gorman, CEO of ProFinda, discusses the changes in 2017 that will impact startups in 2018.

It’s been a whirlwind year for many businesses and the rate of change doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. 2017 saw a number of new developments and appointments, globally. A lot of these changes reflect how workforces are evolving to become smarter, more efficient and effective versions of themselves.

In many ways, startups have a ‘secret edge’ over large multinationals and so are ahead of the curve when it comes to several of the workplace trends we’ve seen this year. Namely, they are agiler and are able to act on innovation and disruption in real time.

The gig economy also hit the headlines in 2017, partly because of Airbnb and Uber’s many legal woes, but also because the gig economy itself has become an integral part of many businesses’ future talent operational models.

It’s clear that startups are already very comfortable in working with freelancers, contractors, and many others within the gig economy. Although large firms work with vast networks of freelancers and contractors, due to their size and the existence of legacy software, business processes, compliance, and systems — they’ve historically been unable to fully take advantage of building and managing this new type of fluid workforce.

Changes In The Supply Chain

With the rise of the gig worker, comes many other changes in the traditional supply chain model. HS2 is a current example of a highly complex ecosystem of competing firms trying desperately to coordinate themselves.

We’re now also faced with the challenge of working with people remotely who operate across many different time zones. Add in the fact that many businesses have adopted agile processes and we suddenly have to develop a workforce that must become much more efficient as a result.

The Rise Of AI

That’s where Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes in. 2017 has been called the ‘Year of AI’ as the general public began to see the technology jump from Hollywood dreams into everyday life and a number of startups and organisations began branding their tech as ‘AI powered’. With it also came the screaming headlines declaring that AI heralded the end of our jobs as we know it.

In many ways this is true. But we’re not going to suddenly find our careers tossed aside in the wake of AI. Instead, we’re going to see a huge shift in the way that we work, with new efficiencies improving tasks and allowing a number of them to become autonomous. We’ve already seen some of this occur with the rise of virtual AI assistants like Siri and Alexa. We’ve become used to asking Siri to set appointments or reminders and for Alexa to control the heating and lighting in our homes. The same is going to happen in our workplaces. Indeed, Amazon has already announced an enterprise version of Alexa.

A Shift In Company Culture

Smart tech will accelerate the move towards the gig economy. Agile work will take over more of our manual tasks, freeing us up to do more strategic and creative thinking. With our brains clear of the clutter of having to answer emails or set meetings, we’ll see a huge shift in company culture from just operating day-to-day to constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries.

Again, startups have a head-start on this kind of work. So much so, that those large corporations may turn to smaller companies as well as individuals, to try to foster the same level of innovation. This offers an unparalleled opportunity for smaller companies to work as part of much larger organisations over the next few years and as such the lines between large corporates and startups will continue to blur.

At the same time, the rise of AI is going to see more of us develop portfolio careers and side projects.

The Skills Gap Is Hampering Progress

But the progress that we have witnessed over the past year could be hampered if we cannot find the right skills. The European Commission estimates that 9 out of 10 jobs will require digital skills in the future. However, 44% of European citizens do not currently have the digital skills needed to fulfill these positions. If this cannot be plugged then innovation and growth will be stifled. Much more needs to be done to help train future workforces and also to develop from within.

As a result, tools that can help people identify the skills within a team and to discover gaps in a business’ knowledge pool will become more in demand.

In the future, small businesses that team up to share resources and knowledge may be far better placed than large organisations. A tool that allows them to work collectively together will give a small organisation the skills it needs to be as effective as a global corporate — but in a much more flexible, fast-moving and agile way.

About the author

Roger Gorman is the founder & CEO at ProFinda - connect with him at Roger[at], on LinkedIn and Twitter.

(Source: article reposted from StartUs Magazine with permissions)

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