The future of work is not light years away. To the contrary, it’s already here. While we yet cannot transcend through time and space, cloud technology helps us to work across teams and countries, no matter how remote.

And far beyond collaboration, the digitization of work determines that how we work and engage people matters. Technologies — such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, analytics, and cloud technologies — change the way we recruit, develop talent, and make our workforce more inclusive. They also introduce new jobs, largely with different skill set requirements. Some of the most-wanted jobs today did not exist five years ago — and many jobs we wouldn’t even imagine today will arise in the near future. Our workplace is changing at light speed.

Beyond collaboration, the digitization of work determines that how we work and engage people matters

Technology accelerates the transformation of businesses and industries. We need to prepare our businesses for the future, anticipate skills requirements and workforce changes. While some of the developments are unpredictable, it is up to us thought and industry leaders to take control and shape the future of work. In that light, we are launching the SAP Future Factor Web Salon. It is an interactive web series featuring leaders from academia, business and government, to discuss the impacts of digitization on our work environment and share innovative practices already in place today. They weigh in on the challenges and opportunities offered by technology for businesses to prepare for tomorrow’s workplace and the next generation of employees.

In the SAP Future Factor Web Salon, leaders weigh in on the challenges and opportunities technology presents

Help Your Business Navigate through Transformation.

In the first Future Factor episode, Kevin Kruse, leadership expert and author of The New York Times best-seller We: How to Increase Performance and Profits Through Full Engagement, and I exchange our views about the driving forces of change and how to prepare businesses best. Together, we envision a digitized work place and culture, examine the impacts of new technologies and socio-demographic changes. We openly address existing fears in conjunction with an increased automated work place, notably the rise of a ‘man versus machine’ world driven by artificial intelligence and robots.

The core of every Future Factor episode is to determine how leaders in HR can help businesses navigate through transformations and where support and stronger collaboration between businesses, governments and educational institutions is needed to shape our future responsibly und effectively. Among the key questions raised between Kevin and myself are:

  • Will the human touch remain relevant in an automated workplace?
  • Does digitization help remove biases in the workplace?
  • What will businesses have to focus on to navigate a digitized workplace?
  • Which skill sets are key to attain for the workforce of the future?

Anticipating skill sets remains one of the most debated topics. The “Future of Jobs” report by the World Economic Forum from January 2016 concluded that technical skills will need to be supplemented with strong social and collaboration skills. The study predicts that by 2020, more than a third of the desired skills will consist of those not considered crucial for our jobs today. Hence, social skills, including emotional intelligence, will be in higher demand than narrow technical skills, such as programming or equipment operation.

The next episodes of the Future Factor series will provide deep dives about diversity and inclusion (what we call doing business beyond bias at SAP), employee engagement, predictive analytics, and the automization of the work place.

What’s Your Scenario? Engage with Us.

The future of work comes in many different shapes and forms depending on your business priorities. Our Future Factor Web Salon is fully interactive, giving you the opportunity to interact with the content of the video by choosing topics of interest to you and your business. You determine what you would like to view and learn about, and in what order. We also invite you to share your views and insights about the future of a digitized work place and developments you already see in your organization today.

“SAP Future Factor: Digitization, Work & HR” launches this months on The Digitalist. For a glimpse of the Web Salon series, watch the trailer:


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We are ready to go bold. Are you? Remember: The future is now!

Stefan Ries is chief human resources Officer at SAP.