2nd February, 2018

Fear of automation will be 2018’s fake news

Using machines to do more of the same thing is a dead end. Business owners who grasp this central concept are well-placed to reap the rewards of increasing automation.

Over the next decade, robots and machine learning will become as prevalent and available to people as smartphones have in the last decade.

That’s huge.

What’s happening in the research labs of Google and Baidu, in the startup spaces of Silicon Valley, Beijing and London’s East End, and in the laboratories of Stanford and MIT, will be commonplace for businesses by 2025.

As the technology to automate tasks becomes more widely available and more accessible, we’ll start to see new ways it will be applied.

Things we never thought could be automated, such as driving a car or investing money, will start to become a bigger part of our lives.

It will minimise dangerous or boring tasks, allowing for new insights and greater capacity – creating jobs in entirely new fields of human endeavour.

We will be living in hyper connected, increasingly digitised world, sharing it with smart machines that have a form of limited or governed artificial intelligence.

But in the process, we’re going to see the process of disruption play out even faster, destroying old industries and creating major structural changes to the economy.

As with anything in the future, it’s hard to tell exactly what shape it will be – and where there’s uncertainty, fear isn’t far behind.

Get ready for the great automation debate

This fear will be the great trend for 2018, displacing our worries about fake news as the number one reason to fear tech.

Last year, people lashed out at tech titans such as Facebook for allowing the spread of harmful and malicious content aimed at influencing the US election.

This year, the tech titans will come under fire for job losses.

They’re an easy target. In a world where Amazon has just opened a grocery store with no checkout lines, people will see jobs either going away or being changed.

That’s a pity, because they won’t be seeing the new jobs created as a result of this automation.

For example, people often point to the 45,000 robots added to Amazon’s warehouses from 2014 to mid-2016.

What they don’t see when thinking about that is the nearly 250,000 human workers the tech titan added in that time.

With the efficiencies created by automation, Amazon was able to focus on investment in areas which expanded the business – and therefore increased human employment .

But that’s not the side of the equation you hear about.

Fear, sadly, sells. So, get ready to see a lot more headlines about robots taking jobs this year.

Remember though, that those who focus on the headlines and don’t dig deeper to see what’s really going on will miss a trick.

Automation creates capacity – what you do with it will define your business

We shouldn’t worry about robots ‘replacing’ us – rather, we need to focus on how we can work with machines and AI to improve efficiency and performance.

If we do this, we ultimately add capacity to our businesses – something we all need more of.

Capacity is the key to unlocking the creativity in our businesses and offering higher-value services to your clients.

With robots and AI automating the grunt work, where you’ll find the most value is in providing services which are more…human.

The jobs with the brightest future in the age of automation are those with frequent, direct, routine-breaking interactions with demanding customers.

These jobs are found in food, hospitality, healthcare, childcare, personal care, education, and urban logistics.

These are jobs which value “soft skills” – the type of skills robots just can’t provide.

When it comes to accounting and bookkeeping, these skills are found within the realm of advisory services – holding clients’ hands through their financial futures.

The success of your clients, after all, is personal.

Those who take the opportunity and capacity that automation presents and uses them to provide a more human service to their clients will be in the best position to succeed.

Automation will change work, and the economy – no doubt.

Do you fear change, or do you see opportunity in it?

How you answer that question will dictate your (and your clients’) future success.


To hear more from Angus Hervey and Tané Hunter on how you can grasp the future, book your tickets to INCITE 2018 today!