Friend or foe: Technology embraced despite a workforce wary of losing their jobs

More one third of Australians believe their jobs will disappear in the next 20 years as technology continues to automate and accomplish tasks that were once completed by humans. More one third of Australians believe their jobs will disappear in the next 20 years as technology continues to automate and accomplish tasks that were once completed by humans.
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More one third of Australians believe their jobs will disappear in the next 20 years as technology continues to automate and accomplish tasks that were once completed by humans.

More one third of Australians believe their jobs will disappear in the next 20 years as technology continues to automate and accomplish tasks that were once completed by humans.

Technology-driven innovation is not the only kind transforming Australia’s businesses as a new report reveals many are also turning to “old school” business practices to boost their company creativity and efficiency.

Two reports on innovation in mid-market businesses released this week, one by Ernst & Young and the other by Bankwest, reveal the Australian appetite for innovation is very high, with only 5 per cent identifying as innovation avoiders.

In the Bankwest report, compiled from interviews with almost 100 business leaders, about half of those surveyed saw themselves as innovation leaders. The vast majority (92 per cent) said they were trying to be innovative and almost a third had employed staff dedicated to developing new ideas, products or processes.

But most said a return to more traditional, people-focused conversations had boosted their innovation efforts. Just more than 70 per cent praised the potential of personal meetings with staff, 60 per cent recommended calling clients and about 65 per cent said sitting down with clients sparked many ideas for better, faster ways of doing business.

Bankwest executive general manager of business banking Sinead Taylor said mid-market businesses were increasingly focused on new ways of working, rather than new devices or software.

“Innovation is not limited to businesses with big technology budgets,” Ms Taylor said. “It can be achieved in small, incremental improvements in the way you service your customers and manage internal processes.”

Most mid-market innovation efforts (almost 70 per cent) are focused on customer service. Other priorities were product development and technology innovation.

She said the best way to develop innovative organisations was through strong leadership and targeted collaboration initiatives.

“This report specifically highlighted that organisations need to create an environment that fosters and promotes idea generation and sharing. An innovation agenda will be less successful if it is developed in a silo or in sporadic bursts of activities.”

The research reveals business owners are not pursuing innovation for the hype or creativity kudos. Just over 90 per cent said they were investing in innovation for the commercial competitive advantage it could bring.

Almost half were hoping to work better and make new discoveries to take on larger competitors. A fifth of participants said they were innovating to fend off smaller competitors.

Many smaller businesses cited a shortage of human resources support and finances as the key barriers to innovating. Almost half (48.5 per cent) said they intended to raise funds or take out loans to finance innovative initiatives in the next year.

Almost two thirds said they needed to reduce operating costs if they were to continue to grow and about half were planning on raising funds or obtaining loans to finance innovative initiatives in the coming year.

While business leaders were optimistic about innovation and technology, workers had a slightly different perspective on the role of technology.

The Ernst & Young Productivity Pulse report surveyed more than 2000 workers and found a third believed they were wasting almost an hour a day on outdated software.

Almost 70 per cent said they could be more productive if they had more immediate and easy access to data and analytics.

The annual productivity survey found a slight productivity drop across the workforce. This productivity drop is cause for concern for employers and employees, with a third of those surveyed by E&Y saying they believed their jobs will disappear in the next 20 years as technology continues to automate and accomplish tasks that were once completed by humans.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.