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Demands of a Workforce Driven By Emerging Technology

The first question workers have when they hear about emerging technology is often, “Am I going to lose my job?”

But the real question is not of what workers could lose, but of what they could gain in terms of productivity potential as a result of automating processes. Workers are not necessarily going to be tapped for their skills in easily outdated technology, but rather their ability to adapt to different technology and ask questions.

“We all know that technology is highly disruptive,” Dan Pomeroy, Deputy Associate Administrator Office of Information Integrity and Access at GSA stated at GovLoop’s recent online training. “We know that citizens, as they become more technologically adept, have higher expectations of the public sector. We’re always looking at how new technologies are going to affect us today and make sure that we have enough resources to keep up with emerging technologies.”

GovLoop’s new guide, “Emerging Technology of 2019: Meet Your New Digital Coworkers” aims to help you understand emerging technology and how advances in technology are going to affect you overall.

“We wanted to focus on technologies that have gained notice and popularity in government, regardless of whether or not they’ve been used before,” Isaac Constans, Staff Writer at GovLoop, said.

The metrics to measure the impact of emerging technologies include manpower or money saved. “Right now, the public sector is trying to do more with less,” Constans said. “NASA, for example, has one of the most fleshed out RPA programs and they put out a report saying no jobs have been replaced; employees have been empowered to do more.”

When technologies are adopted, they are not necessarily implemented to replace staff, according to Shawn Riley, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the state of North Dakota, who has overseen tremendous changes within the state. Instead, these initiatives need to be thought of in the context of how they reduce commodity repeating workloads.

In the state of North Dakota, 24 percent of the workforce is retiring over the next four years. Now, the state is not looking at replacing humans; they’re looking at replacing cumbersome workloads.

“Technology is easy; people and process are hard,” Riley said. He identified the problem as applying technology arbitrarily without managing the workflow first. The process must support what you get to, and the technology should be applied along the way to streamline the process.

Also, the demands of workers are different these days. According to Riley, the reality is that you have to evolve to a continuous learning structure; today, when you start that bachelor’s degree, by the time you get out of college, the technology they taught you is already legacy technology.

Riley is emphasizing technology training and leadership training in the state of North Dakota. In a vertical way, each executive organization has its own pillars. “We have to really push the principles of curiosity and growth mindset,” Riley explained. “Growth mindset is not saying ‘no we can’t’ but ‘yes we can… how can we?’ That question-driven model really gets us to the next phase.”

From Riley’s experience, most folks get excited when they see there is an opportunity within that inspires them. For example, there’s a new AI component to North Dakota’s normal cybersecurity processes that’s reduced the time cybersecurity professionals have to spend on unnecessary actions. Now they’re able to devote their attention to the more engaging matters that come in that really need to be worked on.

In short, Riley said, it’s important that any new pieces of emerging technology are developed to be comprehensive and flexible to meet any kind of purpose. “Every kind of purpose you could imagine gets delivered by government,” Riley explained.

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Avatar photo Spencer Grady-Pawl

Great point from Shawn Riley about not applying technology arbitrarily — it’s important that tech support mission and not simply add cost.