Through all the industrial and technological revolutions man has maintained his supremacy over machine because he could think, learn and adapt. This kept him ahead in the race & indispensable. However, this time machines are acquiring the ability to think, learn & adapt. Therefore, unlike before, this time the number of jobs will really shrink. The storm is coming and we need to brace for it.
How Automation and Digitization is affecting Work
Manual labour, such as that performed by drivers and mechanics, is decreasing due to the advent of autonomous vehicles and robots. Administrative and customer service jobs are declining due to self-learning algorithms. And highly qualified careers in law and medicine, for example, are changing due to artificial intelligence.
In financial services, robo advisory platforms are offering financial advice based on automated, algorithm-driven services with little to no human supervision. Predictive coding is reading sample documents and classifying them as relevant or not for lawyers’ arguments in a particular trial.
In manufacturing, Mondelez India’s Sri City plant is an “integrated digital factory” and packs 6,300 chocolate bars a minute. About 350 people work at this factory but apart from intervening when things are about to go wrong, their role appears limited. Labour intensive tasks such as sewing garments and shoemaking have begun to change with Adidas opening a robot dominated factory in Germany.
In another instance, Midmark, a global hospital furniture maker acquired Janak Healthcare, a Mumbai-based firm, with a history dating back to 1951, that sold 25,000-30,000 hospital beds a year. The production facility, however, wasn’t modern. About 100 workers would be engaged in cutting and bending hollow steel pipes and sheets in lathes, presses and milling machines. The manufacturing lines are now sensor-controlled and function without much human intervention. While the old pre-treatment/powder coating line employed 44 people in two shifts, the new automated line requires only 12 people in one shift to handle double the operations.
Though Virtualisation has been difficult to do in service industries because it is difficult for robots to handle things that are not completely rigid, slowly manufacturers are developing grippers that have dexterity and responsiveness. Moley Robotics has introduced an automated kitchen where multi-jointed robotic arms descend from the ceiling. The robot has cooked dishes that have been winners at Master Chef. Tug is a robot that moves supplies around hospitals while Savioke handles deliveries to hotel rooms. Botler – a fusion of chatbot and butler – is a new type of concierge that recommends places to visit in the Swiss ski resort St Moritz while Luxury brand Jaeger-LeCoultre’schatbot suggests suitable straps.
In the immediate future, AI will have the greatest effects on blue collar work, clerical work, and mid-skilled occupations.But the day is not far when with sheer computing power along with AI and robotics, we will be able to deal with unstructured tasks. That has been demonstrated by IBM’s Watson coming up with predictions of enzymes that would turn on or off proteins such as p53 that curb the growth of cancers, after exposing the machine to 70,000 papers on the topic.
Managing Expectations of the Millennials
Higher labour costs are not the main factor fuelling this automation. Millennials have become used to apps and online services and do not feel the need to interact with other humans when ordering dinner, calling a cab, or stockpiling on household goods. Consumers have begun to value convenience and the ability to have their feedback matter.
Employees want to work in a digitally-savvy organization — meaning, employers must implement technologies for a more connected, efficient and modern workplace, as well as investing in strategies for training or re-skilling workers to be digitally competent.
And every organization wants to be known as an employer of choice — the kind of company where talented employees wish to work. But in reality, building a destination workplace is incredibly difficult and nuanced.
Navigating the path towards the workforce of the future is forcing leaders to ask tough questions.
How do we?
Attract and develop the new talent we need?
Scale and accelerate the pace of change?
Make sure the people with us now don’t get left behind?
Secure the right amount and type of investment in our people to prepare them?
Surveys on the future of work make it crystal clear a company’s reputation as a digital leader has a huge bearing on its ability to attract and retain talent. A considerable percent of survey respondents havesaid they’ve left a job where they didn’t have access to the latest digital tools, and said they would need to find a new job to level up their digital skills.
By providing employees with tools to complete tasks whenever and wherever they want, using the device of their choice, Oracle is empowering employees to become more productive and more effective at their jobs.
Couple of years back, the G-Suite Team at Google introduced a virtual whiteboard called Jamboard. The TV-like screen looks like a regular whiteboard, but each Jamboard can be connected so that people in different offices can draw on the same board during brainstorming sessions.
Last year Bynder recently launched a “Remote Week” for its employees. They were encouraged to work from their favorite locations, using a handful of technologies like Bynder, Slack, Asana and Google Drive, to collaborate.
While many companies today use digital tools for work in the simplest terms — virtual meetings, chatting, collaboration — they need to think bigger. One example is Boeing’s use of Google Glass to build planes faster, which has the potential to attract talent, as it’s an opportunity that professionals might not otherwise have to use innovative technology.
HR too is pushed to a critical turning point. Employees increasingly complete payroll and benefits tasks using a self-service portal, and online recruiting tools have automated significant parts of the job posting and application process. For some, these innovations are markers of an uncertain future with fewer jobs for HR professionals.
HR needs to make use of effective data delivery tools to demonstrate its value as a strategic decision-making partner. It must also be prepared to harness talent when and where it’s needed. Again, digital tools are key to pinpointing how best to respond to this need.
Re-skilling and Training
As you bring new digital tools into your office environment and experience, setting aside appropriate training resources so people can use them to their fullest is key. You should also tap into current employees’ existing technology skills for demos on how to use these technologies.
In the coming years nearly everyone will have to learn essentially new skills. This does not automatically mean that we all will have to become programmers or big data analysts; however, it will be important to understand the basic concepts, so we know how to apply these new tools and are able to work with the experts in these fields.
Future of Workforce in India
India, with an average age of 29, will be the youngest country by 2020. Research by the World Economic Forum shows 65 per cent of children entering primary school will find jobs that do not exist today.
According to several studies, 55% to 65% of existing jobs are likely to go away because of AI. Software testing is one example: Traditionally, this has been done manually. Testers get into a system and hack the software to assess its vulnerability. Now, this job of finding and fixing the bugs can be done easily by AI.
Historically, India’s education system has given more importance to logical thinking and reasoning capabilities, but now, with AI, the new jobs will be more focused on creative thinking. So AI should be used to customize content according to a student’s learning capability or, for assessments and grading, giving the teachers more time to interact with the students on their educational and holistic development. This will also help in early conceptual understanding which is essential for students to re-skill and up-skill in the future.
However, most AI tools are difficult to use, and there is an urgent need to “democratize AI.” AI should be made simple — in a way that even people in small towns and villages can create businesses using AI as they are doing today with the mobile phone.
Teachers in rural India, for example, are showing the way. They are turning to online fundraising platforms to get resources like projectors and whiteboards for their schools. In the microfinance sector, by aggregating their data using Blockchain, lenders can ensure that individual borrowers are not borrowing excessively from multiple lenders.
With this objective of making AI accessible to everyone and creating a whole library of AI solutions that people can use, private Tech players such as Mahindra, AT&T and the Linux Foundation, have launched a user-centric, open source platform called Acumos.
- Business Today
- Business Today
- The Verge
- Capital One
- New tech will open avenues for creativity – Hindu Business Line
- Symbian Co-founder and Futurist, David Wood, on ‘Predicting 2025’ – Business Standard
- The Blue Circle discussion: Gurcharan Das on making a life versus making a living; people now seek purpose, creativity in jobs – Firstpost
- Anatomy and Adoption of Smart Manufacturing
- Sanjay Banerjee – Partner, Amrop: What Kind of CEOs are Companies Looking For