Powering the Human-Machine Workforce in the Data Era

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175 zettabytes, 175×1021 or 175 Billion 1TB drives …or put another way, more than 13 Empire State buildings. For the non-engineers out there – that is the amount of data IDC forecasts will exist by 2025.[1]

It’s becoming widely understood that data is an organization’s greatest resource – their data capital. And it’s that data that when applied to analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, can give lead to new applications, solutions and services that can drive a better business and a better experience for your customers.

Making modernization a reality

It’s also becoming widely understood that organizations need to modernize their IT strategy. I recently spoke to this at Dell Technologies World and the five imperatives to making modernization a reality in the Data Era. The first four are largely grounded in IT infrastructure:

  1. An infrastructure that can take on structured and unstructured data workloads for AI and Machine Learning
  2. A hybrid cloud strategy that includes both public AND private clouds
  3. An edge strategy that ensures you can support the data being generated across devices, apps and systems with the right compute, real-time analytics, storage, data protection and security; and,
  4. A software-defined data center that ensures all those racks can move and manage data in an intelligent and automated way – and rapidly evolve and scale as data management needs change – which in this day in age – can be in the blink of an eye.

The fifth is not only an imperative for modernization – it’s critical to how your business will pay off all those insights and deliver on new innovation:

Humanity at the center of transformation

There are now FIVE generations spanning your workforce – the latest entrants being Gen Z. They work differently than Millennials, Gen X and Y – and certainly from Baby Boomers, like me.

However, they are all deeply connected by the need for innovation and technology that gives them the power to be productive, creative and connected – anywhere in the world, any time of day.

Dell Technologies recently collaborated with the Institute of the Future and more than 50 global futurologists, as well as 4,600 business leaders around the world, to better understand and forecast the technology shifts and trends coming in the next decade. Among those trends is understanding the evolving dynamics of the global workforce – and the innovation we need to develop today along the way to 2030.

For starters, people want amazing technology at their fingertips to simply get work done. They need systems that become intelligent, personalized and POWERFUL. And, they need to have a killer design – our devices are an extension of us – we want them to look as polished and intelligent as they are on the inside.

That technology also needs to enable collaboration with colleagues and creativity in new and compelling ways. That’s where augmented reality and virtual reality come in – giving way to new ways for all generations to learn new skills out in the field, create and design in simulated environments, and collaborate with colleagues thousands of miles away – yet interact as though they’re in the same space.

The work that Glen Robson and our innovation teams have underway in our Client Solutions Group continues to push the boundaries of PC, gaming and design innovation for today and the next decade.

The human-machine partnership at work

Further, people and machines must be able to effectively collaborate and work together. AI and machine learning can drive insights and automation that lighten rote tasks for humans, and free up their time to accelerate the development of new services, technologies and innovation born from the influx of data at hand. That’s an important thread to tie back into my first four imperatives discussed above – without an IT infrastructure that can transform into an intelligent business partner, it’s increasingly difficult for people to apply their talents and resources to better outcomes. That’s why driving innovation forward in cloud, edge, and data center solutions is all John Roese and team think about in our ISG business.

But like machines, people will also require AI fluency – one of the three major shifts expected to come as we head into 2030 according to our research. AI fluency means overtime, we need to expand the breadth of knowledge on AI technologies and capabilities – from elements as basic as understanding software code to broader technical analytical skills. That training will happen in the workplace and will also require a fundamental shift in how we prepare our students for the workforce.

But there’s also a more “human” element to working and collaborating with AI that will need to evolve – and it’s understanding just how to work and collaborate with AI in a social and emotional way. We’ll need to know what AI is capable of and where its strengths digress – and where its strengths should be tempered to ensure human intuition and experience isn’t lost. AI will certainly make incredibly fast decisions and assessments, but not all decisions will be black and white, or fact-based. There’s compassion, judgment – the all-important “gut” instinct that many of us have – and my gut tells me that’s always going to have a place.

So what’s next?

As we head into the next decade, there’s a lot of anticipation and of course trepidation from some on how AI and humans will co-exist. I’m nothing but optimistic. I believe technology is a force for good and will continue to drive human progress. The innovation underway across Dell Technologies will continue to transform the power of data into intelligent solutions and applications that give mankind the ability to be smarter, more strategic in our work – and deliver on the promise that “data capital” holds.

[1] https://www.networkworld.com/article/3325397/idc-expect-175-zettabytes-of-data-worldwide-by-2025.html

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