As technology continues to grow at breakneck speed and the cost of deploying it continues to decrease, the look of the workplace is rapidly changing. Computers, smartphones and drones are just some of the breakthroughs that have been made in recent years which have revolutionised the way we live our lives. Soon, our jobs could even fall into the hands of machines.
A report from auditing company Deloitte has shown that within the next couple of decades, many of the routine and repetitive tasks we carry out in our jobs each day could soon be replaced by the process of automation. The report names the two most prominent forms of automation currently being developed – Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Intelligent Automation (IA).
RPA consists of dealing with repeatable tasks such as system monitoring, the provisioning of equipment and workload scheduling. Essentially, successfully implementing RPA could solve many logistical nightmares companies need to deal with on a weekly basis.
IA revolves around “machine learning” and cognitive processing, such as the use of language. Applications such as Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana have shown us the nearly endless possibilities achievable with these Artificial Intelligences (AI), despite their current wonkiness. Text-based chatbots are another form of IA currently being trialled in various markets – for example, online chatbots are used to deal with everyday customer queries, without needing an actual person to operate a chatbox.
If developers can eliminate the many flaws within these technologies, the implementation of robots and machines used to take over mundane actions will not be a foolish concept. Already there have been suggestions to allow smart vehicles to carry goods and resources back and forth, eliminating the need for drivers. Drones have been put forward as a solution to allow managers to survey and watch over construction sites, and many recognisable high-street brands already allow their online storefront to be managed by a chatbot.
But what happens to the real people who are doing these things right now? The report from Deloitte suggests that there is no need to fear for your job – in fact, automation could actually improve your career. Despite how far technology has come, businesses will always have the need for a ‘human element’ to be present. An uprising in automation would allow businesses to:
- Increase productivity. Allowing machines to perform everyday tasks not only speeds up these processes thanks to the sheer computing power they possess, but also allows the business to make significant cost savings.
- Upskill staff. Human staff will still be necessary moving forward, and the implementation of robotics allows companies to train their staff in areas where they could add more value to the business than they did before, leading to a more interesting day-to-day loop.
While the idea of robots taking on such a large portion of a business’ workload may sound far-fetched, it was also thought foolish that one day we would be able to hold mini computers in the palms of our hands. Automation, when it arrives, could be an augmentation most businesses would be happy to receive.