Adapting ourselves to the new changes that the current digital transformation implies has caused concern about how we will navigate the future and what role people and their positions play and will play in their organizations.
Psychology identifies various modalities of human thought, including: the strategic, the systemic, the creative, the intuitive, and the logical, or critical. With today’s Digital Transformation, or the the 21st century’s New Industrial Revolution, can these unique and variant modalities of thought be assumed by robots? Or rather, can the processes that these modes of thought entail be digitalized? To what extent can a robot replace a person or feel an emotion?
Digital transformation is carrying us at such a speed that these questions, among many others, still do not have sufficient answers. Huge efforts are invested— both in money and in man-power—to create robots and systems that grow more human-like each day. And curiously, with each passing day, we humans act more like robots than humans, so immersed in the superficialities of social media that we forget about the essentials of our interior as people.
As stated in my article “Five Keys to Diminish The Resistance to Technological Innovation in Your Hotel or Business”, while this new technological era clearly offers a great opportunity to innovate, and to improve our productivity and the quality of what we offer, it also brings with it uncertainty and resistance to change, partly due to our fear of being replaced by robots or highly advanced systems.
To What Extent Can Machines or Robots Think and Feel?
The key to success this day in age is flexibility and resilience; the ability to adapt successfully to the changes that the digital transformation produces and to reap its benefits. But why are we so afraid to be replaced by robots? Will robots have imagination or be able to feel emotions, or be creative, or plan and set objectives? Perhaps they will be perfected over time with versions more and more humanlike.
In any case, what we know today is that the challenge in facing the digital transformation, beyond the innovation in technology it brings, is the management of people and the management of change. This digital transformation must also be part of our organizational culture, a new lifestyle of sorts. But even as technology permeates us more and more in everything we do, there is also a growing need to find ourselves as human beings—to return to our essence as people, to remind ourselves that as people, we continue to relate and connect, and despite having more automated processes, technology will not replace our emotions or our ability to have a creative thought, to be intuitive, to put our future into perspective and strategically plan where we want to go—what our goals are, and how we want to achieve them. In short, to put into practice the different ways of thinking we have as human beings.
The concern, in my opinion, is not whether the robot will replace us. My concern is how we are educating the new generations and future professionals about this reality. Does education include enough tools to face the challenges of digital transformation? Does it invite young people to develop their creative thinking, their emotional intelligence, or their adaptability to change? Does education today increase their capacity to develop the necessary tools to think, feel, and act from their essence as human beings? Does it develop their capacity to generate strong critical thinking or encourage young people to find their true passion in life—what makes them act with conviction, certainty, motivation and emotion for what they do or will do in the future?
These questions can also be applied to leaders at the organizational level. How are they guiding their employees to differentiate between the digital role and the human role? Are they lending them the tools to face the processes of digital transformation, keeping in mind growth and adaptability to new technologies?
Organizations Managed by People with Greater Emotional Intelligence Versus Robotic People without Emotion or Passion
For the moment, we can take care of what is within our reach—our work environment, our children’s education, and our community—by replicating this message: “Digital transformation is necessary and fulfills a unique role; people are also necessary and fulfill a primordial role in our existence”.
We cannot continue to act like mindless robots. Whatever our role in society or in an organization, we have the opportunity every day to connect with our emotion and to transmit it in everything we do. Only then can we create, innovate, tailor and sell experiences, make history with a brand or company, and be remembered.
If the digital transformation is already part of our present and future, then we work in parallel to absorb it naturally without losing that essence that only a human can achieve and transmit within an organization or environment: the warmth of a smile, the ability to discern what is good and what is bad, to make decisions, to plan and establish strategies. The digital transformation and the robots add value to us, but they do not replace us as people.
Ana María Pittaluga
Hotel consultant, founding entrepreneur of AMP Hotel Consulting and mentor, with more than 20 years of experience in the tourism and hotel sector, leading business innovation and business development plans in Latin America and Europe.