Digital technology brings efficiencies but it also brings disruption and radically new ways of engaging and doing business. For countries and organisations that are ready for digital and have a workforce that is geared to "run with the machine," digital has the potential to uncover new value, create and redesign more jobs than those being lost and boost growth significantly.
However, for countries like South Africa that are less prepared, digital may bring more job losses than gains—which will negatively impact the socio-economic wellbeing of individuals and the economy.
Specially commissioned research from Accenture indicates that 35 percent of all jobs in South Africa—almost 5.7 million jobs—are currently at risk of total automation. With a fragile economy and growing unemployment, especially youth unemployment, further job losses in South Africa could have a crippling effect.
The challenge we face? Until now, digital technology adoption has overwhelmingly been used by organisations to drive cost reduction, automate and increase efficiencies, displacing human workers. The value of human-machine collaboration has become increasingly apparent, however, making it clear that realising the full promise of digital technologies and truly boosting economic growth depends on humans and machines working together to develop differentiated customer experiences, and create new products and services for new markets.
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