TechnologyAlmost half of today’s jobs could be automated over the next two decades according to two Oxford academics, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne. Theirs is one of many expert views on how automation will transform the work environment in the years ahead.

At the World Economic Forum today, the panel discussion in which I participated looked in detail at the deep structural changes our economy and society is facing – and their likely impact on the workplace and workforce.

Our industry, logistics and haulage, is one where automation can make particularly profound changes.

I see this as a huge opportunity – we can retrain people to use their time more effectively, create better levels of customer service and we can lower costs for our customers.

We believe technology is central to the future of the industry itself and to our success within it. At Agility, we are currently reengineering our business so that technology is really at its core – a key driver of efficiency and improved service levels. Technology will help us carve out a unique niche for our company and effect radical change in our business processes – one that will be difficult for the SME logistics sector to emulate because of the investment levels required. Our larger competitors too will struggle with technological transformation at this scale simply because of their size and complexity.

Technology is changing the workplace quickly and irrevocably. Consider a few statistics from Booz & Co: 88 percent of companies offer their workforce personal devices such as smartphones, PDAs, and tablets. Nearly 90 percent of companies plan to increase their investment in productivity-enabling technologies such as voice activation and sophisticated videoconferencing by 2015. 62 percent of companies conduct remote meetings through desktop videoconferencing. 54 percent of companies say they actively use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other tools to engage their workforce, customers, and other stakeholders.

And all of these trends will be compounded in emerging markets, where there are much greater numbers of young people and the speed of adoption is sky high. One has already seen how changes in communication technologies and social media have transformed politics. The Arab Spring is the strong case in point. It’s clear that these changes are sweeping workplaces as well. And as a company that is an emerging markets leader, is certainly something we feel that we at Agility need to pay attention to.