PUT HUMANS IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT, SAY CEOS. Brazilian executives want to help promote a digital revolution with a human face. In the cushy surroundings of the Botanique Hotel, a group of 50 young CEOs and board members of various companies have been meeting once a month in the chic resort of Campos do Jordao, in the mountains of Sao Paulo state. The objective? To think about ways to absorb the impact of the evolving technological revolution and promote best practices for fostering "humanized digitalization".
Four pioneering companies recently launched in Brazil a 10-point pact "to commit our organizations to avoid problems we already know will arise from technology," said Miguel Setas, CEO of EDP in Brazil, and one of leaders of the movement alongside Korn Ferry, EY and FIAP, a local business school. "From the outset, we want to commit ourselves to what we consider are the best practices to manage the backlash created by the introduction of technology," Setas told Latin Trade in an interview. The 10 principles of the Brazilian pact include broad concepts such as inclusion, knowledge, and humanization. They are intended to form a set of guidelines for companies to navigate the digital age.
The initiative echoes widespread concern across Latin America and emerging markets at a time when robots and digitalization are expected to rub out traditional jobs in massive numbers, perhaps at a much greater speed than during previous economic revolutions. A survey by the McKinsey consultancy suggests that 15% of job tasks could be automated within 15 years worldwide. The survey does not provide a precise figure for Latin America.
MITIGATING THE IMPACT
The impact on the labor market is potentially disastrous. "Everybody is concerned. No one knows which lines of production will be affected. Mitigating the impact will be a difficult issue," said Fabio Cozman, a mechatronics professor at the University of Sao Paulo (USP).
But some top executives insist on the need to keep a positive attitude. "Unlike what happened in previous industrial revolutions, leaders are now aware of what we should be doing to prevent a devastating impact on society, even though it may not be preventable," said Sergio Averbach, vice chairman of Kom Ferry in South America.
Technology will help develop human capabilities, it is not going to replace human beings, argued Setas. "It will be part of the value chain and production processes and will allow us to let human beings execute less...