In recent blog posts you have seen me combat what I consider alarmist scenarios about job losses from automation being painted by many analysts, academics and folks in Silicon Valley. My perspective is automation targets individual tasks done by humans, not complete jobs. Human workers will keep moving to higher value activities. And, as a result, business processes and enterprise applications will similarly need to evolve.
Here are some scenarios from the 50+ work settings across industries in my new book, Silicon Collar :
Expense management and compliance
Patrick Taylor is the CEO of Oversight, which sells solutions designed to assist travel, purchasing card and accounts payable managers in uncovering possible misuse, fraud, and compliance violations. He says they analyze nearly $2 trillion in expenditures annually at Fortune Global 5000 companies and government agencies.
As he says
“A lot of attention is focused on when a credit card is stolen, duplicated, or used by the wrong person. Our automation focuses on the instance where the right person is using their credit card, but are they doing the wrong thing. It’s authorized users doing something inappropriate."
His clients can move from sample-based reviews to 100% automated review with an emphasis on policy effectiveness, employee behaviors, and root causes of policy violations.
Lots of simple white collar tasks will be done by bots. And that will allow for rethink of physical spaces. Mihir Shukla, CEO of Automation Anywhere is quoted in the book
“I can take what would need offices in six large buildings and put them on two racks. I can help consolidate global offices. A cognitive bot can process an invoice in 30 languages—I don't need centers in the Philippines and other centers in Japan to deliver diverse language skills.”
The shop and warehouse floor of tomorrow will be dotted with Baxter and Kiva robots, workers with wearables, 3D printers and sensors everywhere. As Jason Blessing, CEO of Plex told his user conference earlier this year
“What we're doing, the Plex community, is someday going to be taught in classrooms. In a sense, we're the pioneers who are leading the fourth industrial revolution—leveraging technology to make manufacturing plants more intelligent, safe, and efficient than ever."
Legal and risk management
Bill Hewitt, CEO of Exari is quoted
“Our vision is a world where the contract process is virtual. Companies negotiate with each other in cyberspace, taking best practices from a universal library of clauses and precedents or recommendations from a contract ‘machine.’ Automatic scoring of risk gives the negotiator visibility into how exposed they are, allowing them to ensure they are putting proper protections in place. Finally, the contract is analyzed against similar previous contracts and the libraries are updated even as the contract whizzes through cyberspace with electronic counterparty signatures. The contract and its core data are stored, and now are ready to inform downstream and upstream systems of the new rights and obligations.”
Asset management, predictive maintenance and field service
GE is a prime example of a company with plenty of “smart” assets. “Workers at airport hangars, wind turbine farms, hospitals, and many other settings are seeing the growing impact of smarter GE machines that generate loads of data which is then acted upon.”
Jeremiah Stone, general manager for Asset Performance Management (APM) at GE Digital, is cited
"Companies that wait for equipment to fail spend an average of 13% of replacement asset value annually on maintenance. Companies that employ proactive condition-based maintenance, by contrast, face a slim cost of just 2%.”
In the book, I expand on Charles Handy’s “shamrock organization” (internal staff, long term contracted talent and contingent labor) to make it a “clover-leaf” with the fourth leaf covering machines, robots, and other automation. “Actually, clovers can have many more leaves. The Guinness World Records says one was found with 56 leaves.” I describe talent enterprises are increasingly using in the form of outsourcing, franchises, platforms and customer self-service.
“As a result, very few organizations have a complete map of all the talent they are leveraging. That's remarkable, considering that for many companies 80% to 90% of their talent is now "off balance sheet"—not directly on their payroll.”
There are scores of other areas where enterprise processes and software will need to evolve as the man/machine mix changes. Over the next few months I will focus on more of those in my posts.