For most of us, technology is now a fundamental part of our working lives. We rely on it for communication, processes, training and more. It can help us to perform better and to build on our own skills and experience. Many would now find it difficult to do their job without technology. We have become Human+ Workers; our own skills and capabilities augmented by technology. The impact this is having is game-changing, making it one of our Tech Vision trends for 2019.

In Defence this has already been in practice for years, for example deploying Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to perform missions or using radars to see things outside of human vision.

However, the fast-paced change that comes with new technology is creating new challenges for defence organisations. We are now seeing a workforce gap, where the demand for new technology from employees is outpacing its implementation. Of the public service leaders we surveyed, 65% agreed that their employees were more digitally mature than their organisation, resulting in a culture of the organisation trying to ‘catch-up’. One implication of this is around security. Access to and sharing of data in our personal lives, through social media and other digital services, has risen dramatically, yet we often don’t take the necessary steps to protect it. It’s crucial that workers understand the importance of properly controlling national security related information to avoid breaches.

The speed at which new technology is entering the workplace is also affecting the need for reskilling.  In many organisations, new technology has created roles that didn’t exist 10 years ago, and those that did exist have changed significantly. Senior leaders in defence organisations recognise the need for reskilling. Overall, 64% of public service executives we surveyed said that within the next three years at least 40% of their workforce will move into new roles that will require substantial reskilling owing to the impact of technology. For defence organisations this will require rethinking their current processes and training their personnel for a digital future.

Despite the challenges, there are huge benefits that come with the Human+ worker, including the ability to solve issues in new ways. By using AI and smart technologies, warfighters and commanders are given access to vast amounts of data in an instant, allowing them to make more informed decisions, much faster. It also means being able to leave routine decision making to AI, freeing up individuals to focus on the more complex and human-centric parts of their role. New technology possibilities shouldn’t be limited to humans working directly alongside machines either. Much like how UAVs enable human operators and support personnel to be positioned away from the battlefield, there will be a new generation of technologies that will allow for this capability to be extended to other roles.

These smart capabilities aren’t just for external services either. It’s well known that innovative organisations are those that champion continuous learning from within. To help achieve this, intelligent platforms can be created that aggregate knowledge and insights from workers into a single location using natural language processing, becoming learning organisations that further support the workforce through technology. This will be very important for defence organisations, because making decisions should be based on a detailed analysis of the available data, variables and history.

It is clear defence organisations are moving towards a Human+ workforce. How does that change training and reskilling strategies in your organisation?

Matthew Gollings

Global Defence Lead

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