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The Digital Workforce conundrum — Is there a solution?

The last decade of global economy was intense, dramatic and epic. It saw major fluctuations in economy & global commodity prices, talent demographics, influx of digitalization and disrupting business models.

The next decade will also be riveting, World Economic Forum predicts that Fourth Industrial revolution (4IR) to be a major game changer in the world economy with huge developments in artificial intelligence (AI), big data and on-demand technologies.

The new world of “Digital Workers”

Managing complexity is among the key priorities organizations in the digital era. The people related complexities like multi-generational workforce, increasing wage bill, lower level engagement etc. has been affecting the productivity and returns. Organizations have embarked upon the digital journey to overcome these challenges & to sustain long term competitiveness in the market. 2018 Deloitte report suggests that that 42% of organizations are ready to deploy digital workforce in 3–5 years.

Digital workforce are those elements which would augment or replace knowledge workers around the globe, lowering costs and improving productivity. This is achieved by using different concepts like AI, machine learning, deep learning, Robotic Process Automation, Cognitive search, Chat bots etc. Many service providers have released their versions of digital workforce in the market.

Digital Workforce Challenges

Like any new technology, digital workforce also has to cross a few hurdles.

1. Technology Advancement Vs Adaptation

The pace of technology adaptation & implementation in an organization is always slower than that of technology advancement. Crossing different hurdles like value perception, cost, data, structure, privacy, use cases etc. is a humongous task.

2. Potential Vs Awareness

Digital Workforce has a huge potential to transform businesses across the world. According to Mckinsey, 60% of all occupations have at least 30% technically automatable activities. But a Deloitte survey reveals that only 17% senior executives were familiar with both the concept of AI and its applications

3. Products & Services overload

Any new technology is always an opportunity for service providers to launch their own customized products. The classic example is of cloud computing, where companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Oracle etc. launched competing cloud services solutions. Consumers are baffled by the plethora of choices and often they struggle to evaluate / differentiate them.

4. Lack of Portability & Interchangeability

Due to lack of common platforms & frameworks, interchangeability has always been a challenge with the new technology. For e.g., Cloud services, initially, restricted the customer’s portability of applications & data. Containerization, popularized by Docker, made it viable for customers to move their applications and data from one provider to another.

5. Software acquisition model

Currently, digital workforce service providers follow software acquisition model, where the customer pays a hefty sum to acquire the software. Such a model is deterrent to the growth of technology adaptation. The industry would require ‘Digital workforce on demand’ model for a wider acceptance,

These challenges, however, opens up a great opportunity & the way forward.

The way forward

As physical and digital worlds increasingly overlap and blend together, customer has the absolute power of unlimited choice and experimentation. Customer experience in the digital world is not limited to corporate borders, industries or geographies. Organizations and Industries that fail to adapt to this new operating model will be at risk.

An Accenture survey reveals that 81% of senior executives believe that industry boundaries will dramatically blur as platforms reshape industries into interconnected ecosystems.

So the digital workforce market also would need

An open, democratic platform to share information, insights, Feedback and opinions.
a decentralized marketplace where customer could hire / rent digital workforce on an on-demand transaction based model depending on their usage.
A shared model framework where customer could pick and choose the best from services providers or even move from a service provider to another without a hitch

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