Full report
Published: 20 October 2020

The Future of Jobs Report 2020

2.1 Technological adoption

The past two years have seen a clear acceleration in the adoption of new technologies among the companies surveyed. Figure 18 presents a selection of technologies organized according to companies’ likelihood to adopt them by 2025. Cloud computing, big data and e-commerce remain high priorities, following a trend established in previous years. However, there has also been a significant rise in interest in encryption, reflecting the new vulnerabilities of our digital age, and a significant increase in the number of firms expecting to adopt non-humanoid robots and artificial intelligence, with both technologies slowly becoming a mainstay of work across industries.

These patterns of technological adoption vary according to industry. As demonstrated in Figure 19, Artificial intelligence is finding the most broad adaptation among the Digital Information and Communications, Financial Services, Healthcare, and Transportation industries. Big data, the Internet of Things and Non-Humanoid Robotics are seeing strong adoption in Mining and Metals, while the Government and the Public Sector industry shows a distinctive focus on encryption.

Note: AGRI = Agriculture, Food and Beverage; AUTO = Automotive; CON = Consumer ; DIGICIT = Digital Communications and Information Technology; EDU = Education; ENG = Energy Utilities & Technologies; FS = Financial Services; GOV = Government and Public Sector; HE = Health and Healthcare; MANF = Manufacturing; MIM = Mining and Metals; OILG = Oil and Gas; PS = Professional Services; TRANS = Transportation and Storage.

These new technologies are set to drive future growth across industries, as well as to increase the demand for new job roles and skill sets. Such positive effects may be counter-balanced by workforce disruptions. A substantial amount of literature has indicated that technological adoption will impact workers’ jobs by displacing some tasks performed by humans into the realm of work performed by machines. The extent of disruption will vary depending on a worker’s occupation and skill set.33

Data from the Forum’s Future of Jobs Survey shows that companies expect to re-structure their workforce in response to new technologies (Figure 20). In particular, the companies surveyed indicate that they are also looking to transform the composition of their value chain (55%), introduce further automation, reduce the current workforce (43%) and expand their workforce as a result of deeper technological integration (34%), and expand their use of contractors for task-specialized work (41%).

The reallocation of current tasks between human and machine is already in motion. Figure 21 presents the share of current tasks at work performed by human vs. machine in 2020 and forecasted for 2025 according to the estimates and planning of senior executives today. One of the central findings of the Future of Jobs 2018 Report continues to hold—by 2025 the average estimated time spent by humans and machines at work will be at parity based on today’s tasks. Algorithms and machines will be primarily focused on the tasks of information and data processing and retrieval, administrative tasks and some aspects of traditional manual labour. The tasks where humans are expected to retain their comparative advantage include managing, advising, decision-making, reasoning, communicating and interacting.

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