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Tech at the Edge: Rise of the Machines... Is Automation a Job Savior or Killer?

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NEW YORK - Amzeal -- We have all seen the click-baiting headlines: half of the work we do could be taken over by machines. Or automation and artificial intelligence will kill 73 million US jobs by 2030. Typically, comments of that ilk are countered by the rebuttals like "Not so fast… just because a technology works doesn't mean it is practical to implement."

In fact, it is tough to flank grandiose ideas that automation along with machine learning and artificial intelligence will give rise to a new class of "super-jobs." And it is not just futurists speculating on these conclusions. Peruse through Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends report and you will quickly come to the conclusion that many jobs could be redesigned.

"After automation, the work that remains for humans will be generally more interpretive and service-oriented, involving problem-solving, data interpretation, communications and listening, customer service and empathy, and teamwork and collaboration," say the authors of the report. "But these higher-level skills are not fixed tasks like traditional jobs, so they are forcing organisations to create more flexible and evolving, less rigidly defined positions and roles."

What is beyond dispute it that the use of artificial intelligence, cognitive technologies, and robotics to automate and augment work is on the rise, prompting the redesign of jobs in a growing number of domains.

As machines take over repeatable tasks and the work people do will becomes less routine, and many jobs will rapidly evolve into what (Deloitte) calls super-jobs".  Looking for a bellwether? Perhaps look at Robotic Process Automation, a market that is growing about 20 percent a year.

"As automation becomes more prevalent in the workplace, we see a need to put meaning back into work" says Deloitte. "In many ways, technology has leaped ahead of leaders and organizations, and the human element needs to catch up."

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Check out Today's Cloud Blast on YouTube (https://youtu.be/_DRVnZbfaqw)

Automation can be enigmatic -- easy to discuss, but also difficult to conjure up.

So we thought it might be interesting to look at characteristics of tasks where automation might serve a benefit. Thanks to our friends at Entrepreneur we have a nice clean list.

1. Is the process scalable? Automating a few disparate tasks isn't going to show much return on equity, says Entrepreneur. On the other hand, automating the work of many small teams performing various intertwined tasks will provide greater value and may significantly increase workers' productivity. In fact, a recent study found half of employees think automation could save them 240 hours per year.

2. Is the margin of error low enough? When precision is imperative and tolerances are small, machines make great workers. For example, if you have an employee whose job is to cut pieces of metal to specific lengths, that person is unlikely to be able to recreate the tolerance levels of a machine -- at least not at the same speed -- no matter how long he or she has been cutting metal. When repetitive processes have exacting standards, machines almost always do a better job.

3. Are you manually processing big data? Automation technology is not limited to physical processes. We're now seeing useful applications of cognitive automation software capable of ingesting massive amounts of structured and unstructured data, analyzing it and generating valuable business intelligence to enable better decision-making. If you have workers crunching numbers and running analytical models, there may be room for intelligent systems to assist with that work or even take it over.

"Your people are often your greatest asset and a key differentiator" says Entrepreneur. "But that doesn't mean you should ignore the potential of automation. Automation can enhance productivity and improve workflows across the board at companies of all sizes. Adding machines and intelligent software to your workforce rarely makes your existing employees useless; more often, it actually makes them even more productive."

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While they might not grab as many headlines, some analysts are painting a picture of automation that is less extreme. One in particular, the consulting firm Gartner, believes in fact we are currently at a pivotal time related to  job loss due to automation and artificial intelligence.

"Starting in 2020, automation and AI will cause industry to add more jobs than it causes industry to take away" says John-David Lovelock of Gartner. "(Automation) will radically change many positions… but at the end of the day it will end up adding jobs."

Interestingly, while artificial intelligence and automation will soon create more jobs than it kills, it is still unclear what those new jobs will be, says Lovelock. However, those new jobs will likely be in the industries where artificial intelligence and automation are being deployed most effectively, including banking and insurance, retail, wholesale, and manufacturing.

"There's nobody much past the easy-toe-in-the-water point in artificial intelligence" adds Lovelock. "There are actually many enterprise companies using artificial intelligence now because startups and big vendors alike are building it into enterprise and other software. From Oracle, to Salesforce, to SAP, to many of the other traditional names in enterprise software, these vendors are baking it into the technology they offer their IT customers."

"Tech at the Edge" is produced by TVP, and sponsored by RestonLogic, cloud wizards leveraging over 10 years experience helping companies automate, transform and build highly-secure and stable systems. Click over to RestonLogic.com (http://www.restonlogic.com/) to book a strategy session today.

Disclaimer: The blurbs highlighted on "Tech at the Edge" are available for information purposes only, and don't necessarily reflect opinions of our editors.

Source: Tech Video Project
Filed Under: Technology

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