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4 Fundamentals of Workplace Automation

The day has finally come and robots have taken over, only it is not what we expected. No, there are no ten-foot monstrosities causing havoc in Times Square, but there are automated check-in kiosks at the airport. In an article for McKinsey & Company, Michael Chui, James Manyika, and Mehdi Miremadi explore the implications of such automation.

It’s a Robot’s World

Should people be fearful of this robotic takeover? The reality is that very few occupations can or will be automated in their entirety; instead, certain activities will fall under the reign of these metal machines. Research indicates that nearly 45 percent of activities can be automated. This is pushing for a redefinition of job titles. There are four particular areas of interest regarding workplace automation:

  1. Automated activities
  2. Redefining jobs
  3. Impact on high-paying jobs
  4. The creative future

As stated above, there is a moderate percentage of activities that can ultimately be taken over by a machine. If machines could “understand” natural language, then there could be a 13 percent increase in the total number of possible automations. Presently, automation can easily match or exceed human abilities.

There are only less than 5 percent of jobs that could be entirely replaced by automated processes. There are about 60 percent of jobs however that could have up to 30 percent of their activities automated. With this in mind, there will need to be a new definition for most occupations. This will also increase the economic benefit of automation.

There is a general belief that it is the low-skill, low-wage jobs that can easily be replaced, but when it comes to automation, even high-paying jobs are at risk. For example, nearly 20 percent of a CEO’s tasks could be automated to make things run more efficiently.

Human experiences center around the ability to be creative and sense emotion, two things not even the most advanced robots can do. Only 4 percent of activities actually require creativity, but regardless that is still a win for the humans! With automation replacing the mundane, people will have the opportunity to spend their time on more creative tasks.

All this indicates the need for managers to be aware of the changing world and able to adapt. You can read the original article here: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/business_technology/four_fundamentals_of_workplace_automation

About Danielle Koehler

Danielle is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. She has degrees in English and human resource management from Shippensburg University.

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