Future of Work as a Result of COVID-19 Pandemic and Rapid Digital Transformation

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The 2020 pandemic is accelerating the digital transformation of society, including online working, learning, shopping, health services, playing and belonging. The future of automation and artificial intelligence will bring even greater acceleration and transformations to how we live and work.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an almost overnight shift for millions of people around the globe to switch from a mainly physical presence at an office or school to 100% online, and also exposed significant weaknesses and gaps in global supply chains in healthcare, retail, transportation, manufacturing, education, and more, resulting in organizational leaders and policymakers.

At Milgard School of Business, we have two faculty members whose primary research and practice are about Future of Work. Dr. Arthur Jago (professor of management) researches automation and the future of work, with a particular emphasis on how new technologies are changing people's experiences in both business and society. In the meantime, Dr. Haluk Demirkan (Assistant Dean of Analytics Innovations, and Milgard Professor of Service Innovation and Business Analytics) has been working on design, development and adoption of data-analytics-enabled smart technologies (i.e. Collaborative Intelligence = People + AI) for almost 20 years.

Milgard Center for Business Analytics (under leadership of Dr. Demirkan) partnered with the International Society of Service Innovation Professionals, IBM, CISCO and Japan Science & Technology Agency to organize two events in the hopes of increasing the awareness for these changes and issues, and to discuss about practical solutions for these opportunities.

Industry experts and scholars from IBM, Facebook, Google, UC Santa Cruz, Simon Fraser University, CISCO, DELL, Twitter, Aruba Networks, Boeing, Skuchain, Plotly and Accenture presented in these two events. Around 50+ people attended for each of these discovery summit events.

Some of the key takeaways:

As we have seen from the empty shelves at stores, the bullwhip effect is a well-known symptom of coordination problems in (traditional) supply chains. It refers to the role played by periodical order amounts as one moves upstream in the supply chain toward the production end.

To build a resilient supply chain, organizations need to:

  • Understand demand disruptions
    • Manage workforce safety and flexibility
    • Enable ecosystem viability
    • Re-balance network assets
    • Leverage digital to enable more efficient and effective processes
  • Information sharing mechanisms (such as Blockchain) and cyber safety are other key factors.

To establish healthier and productive work environment:

  • We all need to be more tech savvy by using mobile and other digital collaboration solutions.
  • Leaders need to find ways to enable more virtual team building and collaboration (such as enabling water cooler chat, open door policies).
  • It is very important to become “analytical thinkers,” “adaptable innovators,” and “life time learners”.
  • It is very easy to become a workaholic during “virtual work.” Have the discipline to take breaks, and close your digital work on nights and weekends if you are not required.

If you would like to learn more about how Milgard School of Business is assisting individuals and organizations with education, research and industry projects for Future of Work and Digital Transformation, we welcome you to the Analytics Innovations Hub.


Written by: 
Haluk Demirkan / Shane Benoit / February 19, 2021
Media contact: 

Haluk Demirkan / Shane Benoit / Milgard Staff