From the Luddites smashing their Spinning Jennies in the 1800s to the Wapping print worker’s dispute of the 1980s, workplace automation has historically been greeted with a less-than-enthusiastic response from those whose jobs it has threatened and eclipsed. So it goes that the irrepressible rise in artificial intelligence and automated tech in today’s workplace – from self-scanning supermarket tills to online chatbots – has attracted its own share of criticism. If the robots are taking over, how will humans earn their crust?
But what if, rather than using technology as a blunt instrument of profit, we could improve both the bottom line and the lives of the working population? After all, robots and computers are good at the more repetitive, drudgelike aspects of modern work, which will surely leave human employees with more time to spend on more human tasks – the more subtle, analytical, social aspects that are still crucial.
Progress is coming, that much is certain – and businesses need to get with the programme or risk being left behind by savvier, more agile competitors. But there is a way through the maze of digital transformation for companies of all shapes and sizes, and it doesn’t have to come at the expense of the human factor.