The fourth industrial revolution is not only changing companies’ production and business models, but is also transforming the working world as a whole. Learning machines, altered channels of distribution and integrated logistics are posing new challenges for work organization and humans alike. Today, employees are controlling increasingly complex processes with the aid of digital assistants. They need to learn to understand these, and to orchestrate them in flexible teams. Corporate management teams and human resources managers should support this transition as change managers.
In the future, machines will not only take on a growing number of tasks in the field of industrial production, but the services and administrative sectors will also be reinterpreted through automation. Where today forms are often filled out manually, digitized, then printed out again and processed further, intelligently networked systems will take over many of these steps in the future. This will mean that many activities will no longer be necessary, particularly with general processing, as we describe it here in Germany. At the same time, more self-determined, more skilled and betterpaid jobs will emerge. After all, employees – with their power of judgment, creativity and wealth of experience – are central to the introduction of new technologies and networked production. Personnel development that understands this will strengthen solid, self-determined work.
ACHIEVING INDUSTRY 4.0 THROUGH FURTHER TRAINING
In the HR circle coordinated by acatech, HR heads and researchers alike have investigated how companies and employees can benefit equally from digitization. One result is that advanced and further training have been identified as core concerns and basic prerequisites within the company for successfully attaining Industry 4.0. Companies should promote the autonomy and flexibility of their employees and entrust them with new tasks. To this end, some regulatory scope for internal experimentation is desirable – both on the part of lawmakers and within companies.