Innovation Matters
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Jan 16, 2018

Bigger than the industrial revolution

Estimated reading time: 4-6 minutes

Today, the advent of AI and automation are about to change the nature of work as we know it. But what does this mean to you and I?

Current technological advances are predicted to have a greater impact on society than the industrial revolution. The first employment agency for AI has already opened its (virtual) doors and in a much-cited 2013 study, Oxford University researchers estimated that up to 47% of US jobs could be automated in the next 20 years, although realistic figures remain notoriously difficult to predict. Regardless of the eventual numbers, futurist and trendwatcher Tony Bosma sees great opportunities, stressing that many new jobs will also be created. He points out however, that employees and employers will need to adapt and stay agile or risk being left behind. How to do that? Anticipate what’s to come.

Trendwatcher Tony Bosma
Trendwatcher Tony Bosma says don’t fear; many new jobs will be created as work evolves

It’s all about purpose

The upside of robots joining the workforce is that it will make uniquely human skills more valuable, predicts Tony.

“Robots can free us from mundane tasks, taking over anything that is rule-based and task-oriented,” he says, stressing that this lets us focus on the really interesting things that require non-bot traits like critical thought, creativity, empathy, passion, curiosity and collaboration.


“People will choose work based on how meaningful it is, what it contributes to society, and what a company stands for.” A 2012 Gallup study showed that only 13% of global employees find their work engaging, so there is much to gain.


Cynthia Burkhardt, Head of Global Talent Acquisition at Philips, is already noticing a difference. “People want to be part of a company that has heart and that’s trying to change the world for the better. That translates to every generation, to every level of tenure. It’s what attracts people to us and it’s who we want working for us – those who feel passionate about improving the state of healthcare and well-being,” she says. For her, it’s about asking yourself how you want to use your skills: “Do you want to be involved in making an app to find the nearest bar, or an app that can help doctors find cancer?”

47% of US jobs could be automated in the next 20 years

The gig economy

One of the most far-reaching changes is that people will no longer work for the same company for a long period. This trend is already underway and is known as the ‘gig economy’. The freelance workforce is expected to rise to 40% by 2020, according to estimates by financial software company Intuit. So how will this impact business as usual? “Companies need to start thinking as flexible networks of employees instead of as closed organizations. The challenge will be to find the right people for the right spot. That’s what will make a company excel,” Tony says.


Philips is already on the case. “We’re building an on-demand talent platform that can enable us to access contingent workers alongside our regular employees,” says Cynthia.


The emerging gig economy also means that Philips is thinking about how to engage people so they want to keep coming back, as well as how a project can add value to a candidate’s CV. “If you’re a freelance software developer, you want to have really innovative projects attached to your name because that makes you much more marketable for your next gig,” Cynthia says. To cater to a labor market that is seeking short-term opportunities, Philips is adding an assignment value proposition to sit alongside its employer value proposition.

Virtual teamwork will win out

Another step towards the new future at Philips includes improving technology to make it easier for people to work wherever they want to be – or need to be – in the world. “With new infrastructural support we want to make sure that we go where the top talent goes, so people don’t have to move to a certain location,” Cynthia says.


Removing bureaucracy is also a priority. “That’s what kills creativity, especially in software development,” Cynthia explains. To accelerate change, people are encouraged to share their innovation ideas on an internal social platform. Ideas with a certain number of ‘likes’ will be acted on. “We’re changing in the most meaningful places first and will then billow out.”


What can candidates do to stay ahead? Tony’s advice is this: “Be disruptive, be passionate about what you do, know how to promote yourself and focus on building your reputation. You are responsible for your own future, so invest time in these things.”

Be disruptive, be passionate, know how to promote yourself and focus on building your reputation

Future proof yourself

As a futurist, Tony encounters many different companies. “A lot of businesses aren’t looking forward enough. When I see what Philips is already doing to anticipate future changes, I’m really impressed. And with lots of extra courses and coaching on offer, they work hard for their employees,” he states.


Tony predicts that healthcare is where some of the biggest, most exciting changes can be expected. “Melanie Walker, of the World Economic Forum envisages that by 2030, hospitals will be ‘homespitals’. Software will analyze and manage our data and doctors will have a completely different role,” he explains.

Working at the forefront of healthtech, Philips looks set not only be future-proof, but also to play a key role in driving change.

“It’s very exciting. To be sitting in the middle of this new revolution and to be able to craft that as a company is phenomenal,” Cynthia says. The future is already upon us. Are you ready?

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Innovation matters team

Innovation Matters delivers news, opinions and features about healthcare, and is focused on the professionals who work within the industry, as well as Philips as a cutting-edge health technology organization.

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