Tech impact on talent and workplaces

When SAP, Microsoft and Google spokespersons went on stage during a conference by the Asian Finance Institute (AIF) to talk about the use of technology in the workplace, the audience a majority of whom were from the financial services sector and with a technology skew, were stoked.

Microsoft is just starting to shed their ‘stranglehold on on-premise environments’ image in favour of a more open and freer cloud-based approach to services and solutions delivery, something Google has at least a decade’s headstart of over them.

So, the audience could appreciate that arch-rivals Microsoft and Google were on the same stage. Later they were to realise that the Google Head of Finance for Malaysia, was also from the millennial generation.

As the discussion ensued, panel moderator, Nicholas Sutcliffe from The Conference Board and SAP Malaysia MD, Terrence Yong, had rightly pointed out current work trends of a younger workforce that tend to leave a job after two years.

To that, Google Malaysia’s Chuah Jia Wen shared a culture within her company that encouraged emergent leadership and could possibly motivate millennials to stick around for longer at their jobs. “Leadership must know when to hold back and step back, for example when it comes to things they do not much about. If they allow this to happen, I think millennials will stay on,” Cheah said.

The work landscape – more tech or not?

Yong observed, “Today, there is such a thing as a serial part-timer also, they could be working part-time as a Uber driver or selling on Carousell and so on.” He had added that, “We used to feel we were leaving home to go to the office that has more powerful machines and technologies. Today, you have more powerful apps on your phones, and the tech in your office is ten years behind!”

All these trends have culminated in a workforce that is less centralised, and able to work remotely from anywhere thanks to more powerful consumer-grade machines that allow them to still be productive.

Yong further added, “Job profiles have to change. We have to learn to work with machines in a complementary mode.”

Microsoft’s Director of Legal and Corporate Affairs, Jasmine Begum takes a more measured approach to technology. The self-confessed social technology fugitive pointed out that technology has helped special-needs individuals be productive as well, and when responding to a question about the skills the FSI industry needs, she answered from the human resource perspective:

“What are we expecting from young people? Are they committed to the job? What are you going to invest in them? How are you going to scale them for the next job?”

She also honed in on customer service requirements by stating,“I think we need to inculcate digital values of how to behave online and offline.”

Two cloud companies

At one point, Jasmine posed the hypothetical question: do you trust the company that is providing you the technology?

On the current global tech front, Google, Microsoft, device makers, telcos, government agencies etc. numbering a total of 30, have ganged up to end pesky automated telemarketing or pre-recorded sales calls.

Google and Microsoft also have a common enemy in Apple, with both poking fun at the fruit company in their respective ads and enjoying it immensely.

A little less heard of, is how each have their own cloud productivity tools that compete directly with each other.

“Do you trust the company that is providing you the technology?” Jasmine had asked, and rightly so although it should have been a member of the media asking it to members of the audience.

From the sound of things during the panel discussion, competition is tough and for this journalist, it is a rare look at how much it is actually so, because of the lack of channels for the media to find out and the respective companies’ preoccupation to highlight instead how cooperative they are with the Malaysian government, and very little else.

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