Technology enthusiasts, economists and business leaders across the globe are currently engaged in a very important debate about what impact automation will have on the modern workplace. On the one side of the spectrum there are the “techno-pessimists” who are concerned about how many jobs will be lost with the rise of automation. And on the other, we have the “techno-optimists” who only see the considerable productivity gains that will ultimately create new work opportunities.
For New York University professor, Arun Sundararajan, there are two main dimensions to how technology is changing work. “One is that a lot of what humans used to do is increasingly being done by machines: robots, cognitive machines, simple software on your computer.” Digital technology also is changing how we organise work, he adds. It’s taking us from full time employment, which was the predominant way of earning a living in the 20th century, toward a wide variety of non-employment work arrangements. What’s exciting and scary at this point is the confluence of these two forces.”
So how do businesses embrace automation without negative consequences? By overcoming key obstacles in order to realise the major benefits automation has to offer. These benefits include, among other things:
- Improve performance, by reducing errors and improving quality and speed.
- Achieve outcomes that go beyond human capabilities.
- Lower operating costs with reduced labour, energy savings and minimal material waste.
- Boost worker safety by removing workers from dangerous tasks.
- Up competitiveness by decreasing cycle times and cost-per-product. Robots also offer the flexibility needed to adapt faster than your competition.
- Streamline plans thanks to more consistent production schedules. This predictability results in tighter margin on projects.
- Reduce physical and environmental footprint by using technologies designed to fit in confined spaces. By using less space, automation uses less energy.
And what are the stumbling blocks? Aside from the initial costs associated with automating your operations, the biggest issue is related to people. It is important to upskill your teams and change their mindset around the potential automation holds to make their day jobs easier. More and more, people will have to work alongside machines. Some may be displaced but if automation is implemented thoughtfully those who are will find other employment thanks to the creation of new types of work that do not exist today.
Was this article useful to you? If the answer is yes, our monthly newsletter is the resource you need to keep up with all the latest happenings in the tech, digital and business space. Subscribe below.