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The future of work cannot be discussed, without technology being mentioned. It underpins every challenge and opportunity businesses face in the future. The pandemic pushed many organisations to embrace technology further, with 73% of businesses having now embarked on a path to intelligent automation (up from 58% in 2019). And as more ‘manual’ roles become automated, remote working becomes better adopted and data is increasingly used to inform business decisions.  It’s apparent that the march of technology is only set to continue.

Whilst technology creates many opportunities – in terms of greater efficiency, market intelligence, and job prospects, for example – it also creates significant challenges. Businesses can struggle to keep up with technological demand, be resistant to change, or simply can’t find talent with the right skillset.

In conversation with our stakeholders, some of the key challenges in the future, with regards to technology, are:

With the pandemic forcing many businesses to operate flexibly in a way never seen before, solely working from a desk in an office is likely to be a thing of the past. Employees expect greater mobility with work, with 57% saying they want to be able to continue working from home once the Covid-19 crisis is over. As a result, many organisations are exploring how to provide employees with a cohesive mobile experience – running applications, from different sources, and on different devices for example.

But remote working can present a security headache, with many high-profile examples of lost devices and hackers exposing weaknesses in the system. With an increasingly mobile workforce, security must remain paramount, and businesses need to ensure sensitive information is adequately protected.

Tech roles have evolved considerably over the years. Professionals must have exceptional technological prowess and also business acumen, to show how suitable investments can make a positive impact. Knowing your acronyms, from AI to RPA, is one thing – but understanding how to bring in new technology to seamlessly support business strategy, objectives and the bottom line is quite another.

As technology can be disruptive, but necessary for growth, professionals may be met with resistance from stakeholders that aren’t embracing of change. Therefore, professionals have a multifaceted role of understanding emerging technology, applying suitable solutions, winning over stakeholders, driving change, and securing results.

With a leading thinktank warning that the UK is headed towards a “catastrophic digital skills shortage disaster”, it is safe to say that accessing talent with suitable technological abilities can be challenging. McKinsey anticipates that there will be a shortfall of up to 250,000 data scientists in the United States alone in a decade, due to the ever-increasing role of big data in the economy and in businesses.

However, the pandemic has encouraged some individuals to switch to technology roles as a way to future proof their careers, which could help narrow the skills gap. Whilst there are many great initiatives to encourage more people into tech careers, such as Code First Girls, it remains a challenge currently for businesses to access quality tech professionals with sound business skills.

Organisations that can adopt technology in a way that supports business objectives, and employees alike, are set to succeed in the future. Although disruptive in nature, technology is the catalyst needed to drive greater efficiency and the right professionals can guide organisations through the process.  With 65% of children entering primary school today predicted to work in completely new job types that don’t yet exist, it’s important that businesses are flexible to the changes that technology is creating – to reap the benefits in the future.