.Is my job safe? That’s the big question playing on everyone’s mind as automation and artificial intelligence are here. The answer to that question depends on which industry you are in, and for how long. Robots, AI and automation are indeed the next big disruptors and it makes sense to adapt and learn to make the best of this wave.
Companies and organisations should invest in helping people acquire skills that would be a boon in the automation landscape. Every disruption is an opportunity to adapt. Meanwhile, let’s see what factors could lead to automation.
According to a McKinsey report, the factors that could predict automation are:
Feasibility on the technical front: Does the job/sector you are in involve tasks that have the potential to be automated? If it is manufacturing, it certainly has. Industrial robots, automation of welding, production lines and material handling are already rampant. In retailing too, there could be possibilities but more in terms of packaging for shipping, customer data and profile gathering, etc. So, automation will depend on how feasible it is to do so. It may not be able to automate something that requires a fair amount of social interaction, face-to-face/interpersonal relationships or decision making. Teaching, for instance, could have a low potential when it comes to automation. Healthcare is another sector that may not have a high potential where individual skills are involved. However there could be automation within areas in healthcare which are repetitive such as discharge data gathering and updation.
Demand and supply: If there are enough workers and manpower, the potential for automation may not be high. This depends on communities and geographical locations.
Cost of developing the requisite software/hardware: What are the costs involved in the requisite software or hardware that will herald automation? The benefits that automation could bring should outdo costs involved.
Which jobs are most likely to be affected by automation? Typically, low-skilled and bottom-of-the-pyramid jobs are most likely to be wiped out by the automation wave. Some of the jobs include:
• Office and admin-related jobs
• Mechanics or technicians in the automotive industry
• Workers serving food in fast-food joints
• Book-keepers and accounting clerks
• Customer service-related workers like cashiers, real estate brokers, receptionists
• Inventory managers
• Insurance underwriters
• Bank tellers/reps
• Financial analysts
• Manufacturing jobs
• Low-end IT jobs involving routine tasks like scheduling, planning
Even truck drivers may not be spared, but that would take a while and depend on where you stay! For the record, Uber conducted a test run and got a self-driving truck to travel 200 km last October.
On the other hand, there are jobs and profiles such as Human Resources Managers, Software Developers, Public Relations Executives, Journalists, Marketing Managers, Doctors, Writers and Artistes who can’t lose out heavily (though there are efforts) to automation simply because there is a human element involved that machines could never take over.
Having said this, this disruption will actually be good news for a variety of jobs and opportunities that automation will create. There will be a boom in production of IoT devices, and investment in the same. This means a wide variety of jobs related to the automation industry from AI-related content development to software and hardware jobs. There is no industry that automation will leave untouched, from IT to manufacturing and digital marketing. The answer lies in understanding what it implies, embracing changing and adapting to it to create new opportunities.