Automation, which collaboratively covers a number of technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and predictive analytics is estimated to replace 30% of UK jobs by 2030 (PWC).

We are on the brink of an evolutionary transformation in the way we work and changes in the workplace are evolving at alarming speeds. The business world, industrial sector and various other enterprises are currently going through an unprecedented acceleration in technology trends. Customer experience products and services, process automation, AI and technological-based developments will all eliminate humans from the process.

IT, HR and Finance functions which rely heavily on operating procedures, data entry and information routing are likely to be stripped out with automation. In fact, almost any job which is repetitive, routine and has a predictable pattern of activities can be replicated through machine learning algorithms, and therefore will be automated over time.

In the last 10 years we have seen the creation of automated call centres, self-serve shopping, automated ticket machines, self check-in, eye recognition booths, mobile touch ID and hawk-eye sport technology. We have Siri on our iPhones, Alexa in our home, Google Translate and the newly launched Amazon Comprehend to analyse data. We even have the world’s first fully automated restaurant in San Francisco, Eatsa which allows customers to pick up their food through an automated dispenser without the need to interact with humans.

AI marketing which can currently produce 20% more sales opportunities is also predicted at an annual compound growth rate of 29.79% in the next 7 years (MarketsandMarkets). Through virtual assistants, customer centric marketing strategies and use of social media, AI marketing allows upsell of the right product to the right customer at the right time.

All these products and services have slowly crept into our everyday lives and naturally have a huge impact on the lower skilled labour market; predictions are that we will soon start to see more skilled roles at risk of automation. Broken career ladders are likely to increase across more professions such as auditing, fraud detection, medical diagnostics, legal research and tax. H&R Block, one of America’s largest tax preparation providers is now using Watson; IBM’s artificial intelligence platform.

However, the good news is that automation comes a whole host of new jobs created to support technological advances. The Institute for the Future (IFTF) predicts that 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 won’t have been invented yet. It is also likely that genuinely creative jobs or those that are highly unpredictable such as artists, scientists, doctors, dentists, psychologists, counsellors and tradespeople will not be replaced. Highly skilled roles requiring framing, problem solving and judging are also unlikely to be affected.

The World Economic Forum predicts that millennial’s and women are the demographics most likely to be hit by automation, due to the nature of the jobs at risk; all the more reason to be encouraging the younger generations and more women into STEM subjects. 52% of businesses are currently experiencing a digital skills shortage (British Chambers of Commerce) and the Government have a huge responsibility to work with education establishments and business to ensure they are able to support education development and training. It is crucial that schools and colleges better prepare pupils for a world where robotics and AI are so widespread. The UK may need to look to other countries such as Germany who are enhancing digital qualifications of its workforce to both boost employment and increase automation (BBC.com).

If future workforce talent isn’t at the top of the agenda now, it soon will be. Zero hours contracts, flexible working and the entrepreneurial attitude of young generations means jobs are becoming increasingly short-term. In addition to educating, training and encouraging young and fresh talent into the automated job world, businesses should be ensuring internal talent is retrained, developed, upskilled and redeployed. Holding on to good people has never been more important.

The benefits of automation are significant; simplified enterprise communication, easier workplace collaboration and increased efficiency and productivity. If implemented effectively huge cost savings can be made very quickly. However, critical to long-term success is reinvestment; costs saved from automation should be reinvested in people with attraction and retention of top talent taking priority.

With a globalised workforce, businesses need to evaluate processes, automate basic tasks, upskill staff, and invest in tools/technology. Employees should be encouraged to train, develop and continuously learn. Managers need to be given the skills to manage a diverse workforce; there are now five generations in the workplace which brings a whole host of additional challenges. Communication, collaboration and planning is key. Automation should make businesses more efficient but also enable businesses to become stronger and more productive in the future.

For individuals, there will be few long-term careers; they will need to reinvent themselves regularly and continually develop later into their careers. If the trend of automation continues, training, development, learning and staying relevant in a changing market is vital. The majority of individuals will be working for multiple companies simultaneously rather than a ‘job for life’ and diverse portfolios and proof of continual personal development will be the norm.

There is no doubt that the next 10 years bring a whole host of challenges to the workplace with automation playing a major part. For those businesses that proactively respond and successfully adapt, numerous advantages await. The breakthroughs will bring new jobs and optimise the economy. Automation is moving at a relentless pace and it’s an exciting time, but one which requires being one step ahead of the game.

 

The workplace is changing quickly and our Talent Solutions division is ready to support businesses through this change. To find out more call Lenna Thompson on 07377 625 413 or email lennathompson@brosterbuchanan.com.