Machines will be colleagues in the future

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  • Work 4.0: Deutsche Telekom and the University of St. Gallen ask experts across the world about the megatrends in digital work
  • Chief Human Resources Officer Christian P. Illek: Work has to be reorganized in the digitization eco-system

Machines will become colleagues, cooperation partners, and controllers. This is one of 25 theses in an expert survey entitled "Work 4.0: megatrends in future digital work." The study was carried out by Deutsche Telekom in collaboration with the University of St. Gallen. Academics asked 60 experts across the world on the subject – top managers from the TC and ICT sector, experts at American and German universities, management consultants, and representatives of associations and trade unions. To summarize the results, digitization will change work dramatically. The in-house HR departments must act.

"Digitization is coming not as a gentle breeze, but as a storm. It is disruptive. The 25 theses in our survey make that clear. They reveal areas for action in the debate on the transformation of work within companies," is how Christian P. Illek, Chief Human Resources Officer at Deutsche Telekom AG, sums up the results of the study. Work has to be reorganized in the digitization eco-system.

The experts surveyed in the study even assume the "dissolution of the organization." The loyalty of digital specialists will in the future lie not so much with their own company as with highly specialized, cross-company communities, they forecast. In the same way, more and more companies will integrate customers directly into production processes: Voluntary digital work could therefore quite frequently replace professional employment, runs a second thesis.

Illek himself also sees the societal dimension of the digitization of work as a "pioneering, but difficult" challenge for society, politics, trade unions, and companies: "The computing power of chips doubles every 18 months. It's an exponential progression. Speaking figuratively, we are on the second half of the chess-board. Machines are becoming ever more intelligent and able to learn. Work will disappear, especially simpler activities. So we have to find answers to the question of how to ensure that people become fit for jobs in the future, because too many digital outsiders will be a drain on the economy and society," the Chief Human Resources Officer warns of the consequences of possible undesirable developments.

For this reason, Christian P. Illek has placed digitization of the world of work very high on the list of priorities for HR development at Deutsche Telekom. After all, it is a big task to lead 230,000 employees into the digital age. Here Deutsche Telekom is faced by a special challenge: it is driving digitization forward and at the same time must achieve the same speed in transforming itself, in order to take its employees along on the digital journey.

The expert survey "Work 4.0: megatrends in future digital work – 25 theses" can be found here. (pdf, 6.5 MB)

About Deutsche Telekom
Deutsche Telekom is one of the world’s leading integrated telecommunications companies with around 151 million mobile customers, 30 million fixed-network lines and more than 17 million broadband lines (as of December 31, 2014). The Group provides fixed network, mobile communications, Internet and IPTV products and services for consumers and ICT solutions for business customers and corporate customers. Deutsche Telekom is present in more than 50 countries and has approximately 228,000 employees worldwide. The Group generated revenues of EUR 62.7 billion in the 2014 financial year – more than 60 percent of it outside Germany.