Donald Trump’s recent call for America to boycott Apple products last week was paradoxically tweeted to millions from his iPhone. It seems that for speed and impact there was simply no better medium, although he claims to use an android in parallel.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen large printed posters, proudly displayed reminding employees that they are working towards a paper free office. It seems that these very things we are trying to change become more essential in the transition, a bitter sweet reminder of the complexity of change.

Reading the business news over the last few weeks you would be forgiven for thinking that our role as humans in the workforce was seriously under question with predictions from numerous analysts that we are entering the 4th industrial revolution where automation will be king and we will all be, well….who knows? McKinsey believes as much as 45% of current jobs could be replaced by technology that already exists; Gartner predicts one in three jobs will be converted to software robots and smart machines by 2025, and The Guardian even highlights that the oldest profession in the world is under threat of being robotized!  

Highly respected commentators such as Bill Gates added to the debate with his predictions about artificial intelligence and the need for control before it controls us, whilst Stephen Hawking warned us that AI would be the biggest and possibly the last event in human history.

And yet CCA meetings this week with several leading recruitment practices shed a somewhat different light. Their observations are that there are simply not enough talented individuals to match the many existing and newly created roles which require filling; and predictions for the year ahead are for greater demand than supply at all levels from senior customer service directors to differentiated front line staff.  

Analysts who are experienced enough to make common sense of the vast amounts of customer data are in high demand. Customer Experience leaders who ‘get the business’ and can navigate their way in an omni-channel, mixed model service offering are in short supply. Talented front line problem solvers with maturity and experience belying their years are thin on the ground.

An interesting article published in the February edition of ‘Horses for Sources’ cautions against the scary predictions and instead urges us to ‘dial back to reality and be honest about what is really happening’. It warns against staring blindly into the future and instead address an exciting present where the gaps between rhetoric and reality in customer service demand that we use human endeavour to provide seamless self serve, allowing humans to do what they do best. According to Gallup people who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job meaning they are significantly less likely to leave their job even for a modest pay increase.

The race is on for organisations to focus on our emerging talent, dispel the one size fits all and learn fast from our new entrants who might just save us from our pessimistic selves!

I’m keeping my bets firmly on the ingenuity of the human race to navigate a purposeful working future, albeit perhaps a different one from that which we know. May 2016 sees the launch of CCA Leadership in Customer Experience programme (contact us for details), designed to support the large army of talented and eager managers in our industry who will be responsible for making informed choices about the direction of travel for customer experience now and in the near future. After all the scary stats let’s have a soothing end to the week; Today is now the tomorrow that you feared yesterday!