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Future of Work Now research project launched at University of Limerick

Prof Philip O'Regan, Executive Dean at Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, Tracey Donnery, Executive Director at Skillnet Ireland, Pat Breen T.D, Minister for Trade, Employment, Business and EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Sarah Kieran, KBS and Gerry O'Brien, Deputy President, UL at the launch of the new research study
Tue, 18 Jun 2019

New research by the Kemmy Business School at University of Limerick has revealed that the role of customer experience employees in Ireland is undergoing significant transformation because of advancements in new technology.

‘The Future of Work Now: The Digital Transformation of Customer Service and the Emergence of Ireland’s Cx Professional’ research project was launched at the Kemmy Business School (KBS) in UL this Tuesday by Minister of State for Trade, Employment and Business, Pat Breen.

The research from the Department of Work and Employment Studies at KBS in UL and by Skillnet Ireland’s Learning Network, ICBE Advanced Productivity Skillnet, found that the role of Customer Experience (Cx) employees in Ireland is undergoing significant transformation because of advancements in new technology.

The research was conducted with business leaders and Cx employees across two large multinational organisations, in the financial services sector and the Information Communications Technology (ICT) sector. 

The findings will be shared with relevant stakeholders including participating enterprises, the Department of Education and Skills, industry bodies and employer groups.

It identifies how digital transformation has impacted the skill set required of Cx employees of the future. Dexterity is defined as a sharpness of mind, or skill, in thinking creatively, and understanding and expressing information/ideas, quickly and easily, moving swiftly and smoothly between tasks.

The report recommends that Human Resource Management in organisations need to work with the organisation’s leaders to continue to develop new approaches to designing jobs, develop real-time learning opportunities and create positive work environments where Cx employees can thrive and apply dexterity to their skills.

“Innovation and digitisation are key to Ireland's continued economic success,” said Minister Breen at the launch.

“This study is extremely valuable in identifying the key skills needed to equip Cx workers for the evolving and new roles that digitisation brings. An openness to upskilling and lifelong learning will help companies and employees to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities that the digital world offers.

“It is vital, therefore, that companies avail of upskilling programmes, such as those offered by Skillnet Ireland, to ensure they future-proof their business and their workforce,” he added.

Dr. Sarah Kieran, Principal Investigator and Lecturer in Human Resources Management at University of Limerick explained: “This research concludes that, with the continued development of innovative leadership and workplace practices, there is strong potential to position Ireland’s Cx professional at the forefront of our digitally transformed, customer solutions offering.”

Skillnet Ireland, the national agency responsible for the promotion and development of workforce learning, funded the study.

Speaking at the launch, Skillnet Ireland Executive Director, Tracey Donnery said: “Globally, the Cx industry is undergoing a major evolution as a result of advances in technology; particularly automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning. These new technological disruptions are impacting the way that the Cx activities traditionally operate.

“This timely study considers how digitisation is shaping new organisational skills, roles and careers in a Cx context and the need for new leadership skillsets in developing future Cx professionals. It builds insights into the breadth and depth of the impact of digital transformation on Cx employees across different industry sectors and businesses in Ireland.

“This study and its findings will support Ireland’s strong record as a leading location for Cx related activities.”

The research, led by ICBE Advanced Productivity Skillnet in partnership with the Department of Work and Employment Studies at UL, involved 32 in-depth leader interviews and 11 focus groups with 58 Cx employees.

“This study highlights the post-digital transformation of Ireland’s Cx professional,” said Prof Eamonn Murphy, Managing Director, Irish Centre for Business Excellence (ICBE).

 “Unlike the call centre agents of previous years, these Cx employees are highly skilled knowledge-workers with a significant depth and breadth of service skill that can be transferred across business domains and industry sectors. 

“The emergence of a clear Cx skill set is a breakthrough for our members and offers them a pathway to transition workers from roles vulnerable to digital transformation to the highly-skilled knowledge-based roles required post automation,” he added.

To read the report in full please click here: www.skillnetireland.ie/advancedproductivity-june-2019.