Digitalisation is dictating all narratives these days, but will it make human contact redundant in the future? We posed this question to Annika Parkkonen, the new Vice President, Human Resources at Wärtsilä Marine Solutions. Her answer will calm your nerves. At least for now.
To what extent will digitalisation change the way people work?
It will transform the way we lead and how teams are organised. There is a lot of work that can be automated, and it will, because it’s more efficient. What cannot be digitised will have more value, which means that the creative, insightful things people do will be more valuable than ever.
What will happen to customer contact in the digital age?
If there’s one thing that won’t be digitised on a similar scale – it is customer contact or communication with the customer. We can automate background processes, but selling requires human contact. You can chat with a bot in a web-shop, but when you pick up the phone to ask a question, you don’t want to talk to a robot, you want to talk to a person. And this is crucial for us in being customer-centric, which means we truly understand the customer’s needs and make products and services that suit them. We sit on the same side of the table and collaborate constantly with our customers. I believe, in the long run, companies with real people will stand out from the crowd.
You are an advocate of creativity. What is the role of creativity in industrial business?
All work is creative: you see a problem and you find ways to fix it. Creativity is in all of us – it’s just a question of how we use it and how much we’re willing to work for it.
Also, the skills required in the future will be creative - being able to understand the bigger picture, complex problem solving, and communicating. This is because data, as such, isn’t valuable, but what we make of the insights from the data, is. That cannot be automated.