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How to prepare for a skills shift and the importance of EQ

by Mattias Athwal November 09, 2018
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​The buzz and pervasiveness of emerging technologies have been exacerbated in recent years by breakthrough developments in efficiency maximising tech including machine learning, automation, the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence. Organisations at all scales have begun to heavily invest in technology transformation strategies, upscale tech M&A activity and place process re-engineering at the core of company mission statements. Although on the surface the new age of agile is exciting and presents new opportunities for both businesses, consumers and the workforce - many remain sceptical and critique the potential job displacement that will be caused by these new technologies, specifically process automation.

Society, the media and tech commentators have a centralised focus on potential increases in the unemployment rate, which will be caused by business process automation, especially towards the bottom end of the value chain. However, innately human characteristics which separate humans from machines, such as consciousness and emotional intelligence, seem to slip through the cracks in the mainstream discussions regarding the automation revolution. In order to handle disgruntled customers and clients, we offer bespoke services and solve unique project-specific problems, human emotional intelligence and creative thinking will be required to work alongside machines in a collaborative relationship.

If core antecedents of your job role involve condensing and presenting complex information, adapting to client needs and relationship building (financial advisor, recruitment consultant, strategy/tech consultant, etc.) - your job security will be largely unaffected by emerging tech. Accenture stipulates that technology will be integrated into business in order to automate tasks which are repetitive, mundane and require little cognitive capacity. However, the same study also suggests these technologies are assistors, not replacers, they will help empower employees across industries to maximise focus on creativity and relationship building by taking over the frustrating and boring aspects of your job role. Sound good? Well, it gets better – this will provide a true opportunity for human creativity, ingenuity and emotion to become the most highly sought-after skills in current industries.

Following the 2008 financial crisis, numerous geopolitical events such as Brexit and large data breaches (Facebook, Google) there is an inherent societal distrust in both organisations and government. As emerging technology becomes increasingly pervasive across industries, we as a society will have to be prepared to take a significant trust leap, putting our confidence back into organisations and trusting these entities to handle and use our information responsibly. But, society is slow to build trust and confidence in something which does not have human characteristics, so the very idea that technology, regardless of its capabilities, will grip hold of all markets rapidly is flawed by our own relationship determinants as humans. So irrespective of how advanced and truly amazing the technology is, the need for human interaction will remain a central component of the relationship building process in a long-term business context. In essence, human emotion will triumph over technical prowess in the man and machine debate.

So what can you do to enhance your emotional intelligence and prepare for the shift in skills as we are plunged into industry 4.0?

  • Build your personal brand

The age of the internet has increased global interconnectedness on an unprecedented scale – use this to your advantage. Sites such as Wordpress and LinkedIn provide an opportunity for you to build rapport online and interact with like-minded individuals to share your insights and interests. This is truly invaluable in making a name for yourself, showing your willingness to learn and staying ahead of the curve.

  • Build a network:

Building both an online and offline network with individuals in it showcases your emotional intelligence. Every single person on this earth has a different personality, and your ability to make relationships with lots of vastly different people highlights your emotional adaptability and empathy. 

  • Build client facing skills:

Put yourself out there with clients – getting to understand your clients better on both a business and personal level will provide you with valuable insights and fresh perspectives, whilst also developing your ability to be personable. This is a core trait of emotional intelligence.

  • Think of the bigger picture:

Technology is taking away the need for us to focus on technical and repetitive tasks, creating a new co-working environment between man and machine. This empowers human creativity and gives us superhuman powers, so you no longer have to think about the nitty gritty aspects as much, you can now think big. This will build your creativity and ability to think ahead of the curve. 

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