Artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data have been making waves. Another important development is the speed of such new technologies is much higher than what it used to be five decades ago.
Industrial revolution made a huge shift in the way people lived their lives. Then came the age of computers that disrupted many things right from banking, education, academic research and so on. And then mobiles, cloud computing, smart phones and so on! The nature of work that people did to earn their livelihood and fulfil their needs of curiosity has changed substantially. The number of people who worked in the farms, factories, transportation sector and many more has changed; the way they worked has changed over the last fifty years. So, what is likely to happen as the world is increasingly global in nature and more automation is going to happen?
IT and Services Industry will transform significantly!
Of late, there is a lot of discussion on the impact of automation on IT industry. I think, it’s hyped and unnecessarily creating anxiety. The advent of social media has created a whole new field called digital marketing and many jobs there. Similarly, cloud computing and smartphones have helped millions of enterprises use IT applications. These trends have lent thousands of people jobless and at the same time, created many new jobs.
In the same way, there will be an immediate impact on entry-level jobs in IT industry and the so-called Analysts who largely deal with spreadsheets. Naturally, the employer organizations will seek avenues of maximizing their productivity!
How much ever ingenuous we may be, each one of us are blessed with a great instinct for survival. It is just a matter of time that we adapt to the new situations. And there are enough avenues to learn new skills and get ready.
Organizations who have a long-term vision see these coming and prepare well to face these. While some of them act ruthlessly to carry out a shock treatment and remove a few roles overnight, some carry out the surgery with a significant amount of sensitivity. In either case, people get the opportunity to acquire new skills and deploy them at work.
As more and more machines carry out ‘the chores’, human effort will be required in creating the algorithms and maintaining the algorithms and machines.
Leaders have to lead the change from the front!
Any change is difficult and hard to put into practice. Unless the leaders consistently drive them, the changes are not understood; neither they are put into practice. Hence, a lot of communication is required right from the top so that it reaches the last person in the organization in its true form. As long as the employees understand the rationale and do not panic, the impact will be positive.
If we think of the computerization in public sector banks in India, we can relate well to the reality here. The banks which could computerize fast emerged stronger. They could do so by communication and investment of time and money. Many of the employees could adapt and those who couldn’t, had to retire early and do something else.
Governments have a role to play!
Policies in education are foundational here. If adaptability is a key building block for the education right from the Kindergarten till the University level, a country will have a labour pool who understands the nature of work-life, the challenges that one faces along the journey and the need to rise to the occasion.
Thus, the risks of job loss due to automation are not negligible but surely, over-stated. We have a great instinct of survival. We will rise to the occasion!