Rewriting the HR Playbook

Gartner predicts that in 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse. Machine replacing human, is already a present reality for certain jobs.  However, World Economic Forum estimated that AI & automation will create 58 million net new jobs by 2022, some of them - the job titles haven't even been invented yet.  This is an unprecedented shift that demands new workforce strategies to stay ahead.

  • How do we have the right people with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time?
  • How do we help our people develop, up-skill or re-skill with the right contents, in the right way, at the right time?
  • Gen Z, the true digital natives, as they enter the workforce, what would be the implications?

So many questions, so many uncertainties, so many opportunities.  The digital era promises unlimited possibilities.

Jacinta Quah HR Digital Trends Summit.jpeg

I was thrilled when CDO Trends invited me to chair the inaugural HR & Digital Asia Summit.

Hosted at the stunning Facebook APAC HQ, this exclusive event brought together the HR & Digital Business Leaders from Asia's most influential brands.  They shared the behind-the-scene view of their digital and business enablement journey, discussed actual data-driven HR use cases and explored key trends in the future workplace.  The dialogue was rich and insightful.  Here were a few highlights:

Shift from Disruption Tolerance to Disruption Embracing

Go after the unknown-unknowns.  Future leaders need to be much more broad vs deep, and make sense from seemingly disconnected patterns.  To do that, we need talent diversity in skill set, experience and perspective - in order to make the most of fast emerging opportunities or challenges.

Dinosaur Manager vs Digital Manager

Learning from AirAsia's leadership transformation - key leadership traits required for this time of exponential change.

Digital leaders Jacinta Quah leadership coach.png

Human-Machine Interaction Design

We were amused by Gardens by the Bay learning with automation.  Bots/robots were installed to help with transporting the passengers.  However, they've had to reinstate the human staff to guide visitors to the automated car and to manage the curious visitors who crowded around the robot, so that the robot can move and get to work! :) It's not just about job replacement.  If we're going for human augmentation, we must anticipate and design for how human and machine will interact.

Talents Availability trumps Labour Cost

According to WEF's Future of Jobs Survey, Talent availability is the #1 factor determining job locations decisions, ahead of Labour cost.  The importance of proactively up-skilling and re-skilling your current workforce, cannot be under estimated.

future of work digital disruption Jacinta Quah.png

Our Intention vs Our Actions

Till today, once in a while I'd still see a physical drop-off box labelled "e-submission" at a Finance department.  Yup, the place to drop-off your hardcopy printouts - of your "electronic" submission!  We heard humbling sharing where the actions did not keep up with the intention.  "Take risk, but don't miss.  Innovate, but don't fail."  It takes courage and humility to examine our actual actions and behaviors, and to make the uncomfortable, inconvenient change that is required to transform.

Importance of Internal Communications

The successful case studies, all emphasized transparent, frequent, two-way communications on the vision, goals, progress and lesson learnt.  CEO personally championing the new strategy, role-modeling the desired culture.  And they were all multi-year journeys, to get to where they're today, and still not done YET.


Transformational change is never easy nor a linear process.  As Elon Musk has said:

Focus on signal over noise. Don’t waste time on stuff that doesn’t actually make things better.
Jacinta Quah