It has long been speculated that automation will lead to the eventual elimination of blue-collar jobs. True as it may seem, the world today has been dynamically changing with automation gaining ground for vital tasks. The question now is, how far can automation go and is it bound only to the blue-collar activities?
The endless pursuit of developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics has created a disruption that challenges white collar jobs, which earlier seemed impenetrable. Prior analogies implied that although robots may outweigh humans in terms of physical abilities, their intellectual abilities would not be a match for the white collar enterprise. But times are changing!
The advent of White Collar Automation
Over the years, the outsourcing industry has been driven by a need to go for progressive cost reduction techniques. Labor arbitrage and continuous productivity improvement measures have been the sub-factors affecting the industry. The dawn of automation launched a phase of development where processes were digitized and robots were installed for repetitive and high volume manual operations to reduce errors, and ensure speed and high accuracy.
However, the rapidly changing dynamics of consumer behavior demands technological advancement at breakneck speed to provide accelerated business outcomes.
Enter White Collar Automation!
While adoption of automation started with blue collar jobs, a blend of bots with AI can create value-add for jobs which require creative thinking, judgement and human interaction. ‘White Collar Automation’ is a term used to denote the use of AI and intelligent machines to perform ‘higher level’ human jobs.
With the world witnessing a major shift towards intelligent machines, automation is moving towards jobs that require a higher level of intelligence and understanding as well. Gartner has predicted, ‘By 2022, one in five workers engaged in mostly non-routine tasks will rely on AI to do a job 1.’
The wave of White Collar Automation offers organizations new business model opportunities to deliver excellent customer experience. Though the surge is just at its outset, it will not be long before AI takes on the ability to perform majority of the specialized skills and ensure a human-robot partnership.
Should we panic about the automation shift?
Judging by the situation now, there is no doubt that automation will replace many tasks which otherwise require a high level of acumen. However, the position is not as grim as it looks.
Enterprises are envisioning the growth of a Digital workforce- a workforce that is a combination of human and artificial intelligence, where both complement each other. Significant upskilling of the human workforce will doubtless become a necessity. But ultimately, it will create immense benefit, attune to the Industrial Revolution of the past, where cognitive ability will only create a cooperation of humans and robots to deliver high level of customer experience. It is up to humans to seize the opportunity of this partnership fast and create a workforce adept at multiskilling. The time is now!
1 - https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3837763