How Industry Convergence and Technology are Disrupting Workforce Strategy

By Michael Burke, CEO of Talent, Rewards and Performance, Aon

Creating an agile workforce requires human resource leaders to focus on the future and find opportunity in a changing talent landscape.


In many sectors, unemployment rates are the lowest they have been in decades. The stock market and overall economy are showing signs of growth. However, this optimistic outlook isn’t matching global sentiments. Uncertainty – particularly fueled by recent trade wars and Brexit – is outweighing confidence about positive economic trends. While an unstable environment can be daunting, waiting for the pace of change to slow down before taking action isn’t a sustainable business strategy. Shifting your company to view disruption as an opportunity – rather than a threat – is an important step in navigating change.

According to our Global Risk Management Survey, the C-suite indicated “accelerated rates of change in market factors” as one of their top risks.

According to our Global Risk Management Survey, the C-suite indicated “accelerated rates of change in market factors” as one of their top risks. As a result, we are seeing companies delaying decision making or signing off on smaller-scale projects. It seems that the harder the market is to predict, the more indecisive many companies become.

Compounding the impact of an uncertain market are disruption and industry convergence. The increased use of technology is enabling an intense rate and scale of change – similar to how the emergence of artificial intelligence is changing the kind of work that gets done and how we do it. Doing business in a volatile world is now the norm for doing business.

It’s important to remember that not only does the increasing rate of change drive uncertainty, but also it drives opportunity. In the end, recognizing and acting on these opportunities mean better experiences for your customers and employees, which ultimately drives business performance. Companies that take advantage of disruption can lead further change and come out ahead of competitors by broadening their businesses, like Amazon pursuing brick and mortar stores.

Navigating from where you are now to where you need to be requires a strategic understanding of your core business.

Navigating from where you are now to where you need to be requires a strategic understanding of your core business. With a specific business road map, leaders can focus on the opportunities of disruption without being distracted by the temporary challenges presented by trade wars or economic cycles.

A key differentiator we see in companies that thrive amidst disruption is their ability to remain future focused. Instead of focusing on the needs of the next three months, we encourage companies to focus on what their needs will be in the next three years. For example, if you’re a traditional retail firm, the job titles and structure your company has today may be the same in three months but will likely look very different three years from now. Taking short-term actions, such as hiring to fill a temporary need, is often an ineffective tactic to promote long-term growth.

Despite favorable economic tailwinds, many organizations are hesitant to make decisions in an unclear political and social environment. However, taking a pragmatic approach to translating disruption into opportunity will help organizations weather future uncertainty.

To read more human capital insights, visit our Head of HR thought leadership page.

 A PDF of this article is available to download below. 

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