Best Practices for Managing Digital Labor and Human Labor
by Betsy Burton
I am excited to have just released a Research note on “Best Practices For Managing Your Integrated Digital and Human Workforce.” I think the emergence of digital labor will have a profound impact on how we manage technology, and how we manage our human resources.
Business and technology leaders must understand the ways that managing humans and digital labor is different and similar.
Hybrid Workforce: Digital and Human Labor
Digital labor refers to the AI-enabled computer applications that are used to support automation of tasks that were formerly performed by humans. Digital labor may include logical entities (e.g., embedded software chatbots, digital assistants/advisors) as well as physical robotics.
Don’t just think about managing AI-enabled technologies as “IT.” It is fundamentally different. It can learn based on models and algorithms how to respond to different interactions (human or digital) based on information collected from experiences (model-driven interactions) and analysis (information analytics).
Convergence of Human Resources and Technology Management
As digital labor technologies continue to evolve and mature, it will be capable of interacting with humans as well as other digital resources, as such we will need to manage these resources differently; more like managing humans than managing technology.
Increasingly, organizations must support all their labor using cohesive and integrated operational practices. Supporting digital labor with IT practices, and human labor with HR practices will not work. All labor must adhere to the same behavioral norms, laws and regulatory requirements.
Most Important Hybrid Management Practices
In this note about best practices, I shared a list of best practices for managing a hybrid workforce. For me, the most critical best practices are:
- Ensure that EVERYONE (human and digital) reflects your business brand.
- Spend as much time onboarding digital labor as you do on human labor.
- Include digital and human labor in governance programs.
There are 7 other best practices covered in this note, and I would encourage business and IT leaders to review these practices. I would also note that these practices are largely management and business practices that are supported by technology practices; they are not "technology" or "IT" practices.
It is critical for business and IT leaders to prepare for managing hybrid workforce now.
Over the next few years, companies and people will become more and more dependent on digital labor. This dependence will be a gradual shift, not a one-time event. You do not want to be in the position of suddenly realizing that your human workforce and business operations are completely dependent on digital labor, but you don’t have a strategy or plans to manage these resources.
Start learning now about how your role as a business and IT leader and managers will need to be different in the future and put practices in place now to prepare for this future.