Transform or die!

A lot is being said about digital transformation and what this concept means for businesses. The message is clear – transform or risk being left behind in your competitions’ dust.   To back up this approach, a number of tools, strategies and solutions are now available for businesses that want to stay at the forefront of their industry. At the brink of this exciting new era, it is clear, though, that many CEOs don’t know where to start or how to make it a reality.  

According to Google (paraphrased in an article by the Australian Financial Review) automation as a whole holds incredible promise for Australia. In fact, economic gains of up to $1.2 trillion by 2030 look entirely possible as a result of automation. The only catch is that the 3.5 million people who are displaced as a result of automation should be supported and retrained through newly created Government policies that are practical and accessible to those who need them.

So, who is likely to be replaced by automation tools?  Basically, anyone who performs a routine and predictable task is someone who can be replaced by automation.  Why would an organisation look to re-structure significantly to allow for this measure? Well, the results on offer to an organisation from automation are significant. Firstly, a substantial amount of money is saved through wages, office supplies for these human individuals, and other workplace expenses relating to employing manpower, such as training, recruitment, HR time and energy, etc. Such an enormous outlay of money that is being saved is bound to ensure the satisfaction of stakeholders and the CFO of the organisation.

Secondly, automation allows for expansive possibility. People have a number of limitations, regardless of their skill set. Time is finite - there is only so much of any task people can do in a certain timeframe, regardless of what the task is. Even the person who can perform the task better than anyone else has a limit. In addition, regardless of skill, human beings can only perform within pre-determined capabilities. On the other hand, machines make anything possible! Basically, as an old adage goes – the sky is the limit! This is how businesses can become more progressive than ever before. They are no longer limited by the people who work within them. They can now produce items at a faster pace than ever before, and even the products will become more cutting edge and revolutionary, because of the lack of limits on their creation.

Google demonstrated that the average Australian worker already spends around two hours a week on tasks that are automatic and routine. It also said that this will increase another two hours a week until 2030 due to technology solutions and artificial intelligence that are becoming more mainstream in various parts of a workplace. So, basically, instead of letting these skilled individuals continue with those automated tasks, why not spend their energy somewhere else in the business that their contribution can be greater?

Individuals may assume that a large organisation becoming digitally progressive and establishing automation within it may have a negative public effect as a result of job losses. For instance, in the same article, Google stated that it would retrain the employees it has replaced as a result of automation.  If it wasn’t able to do so, these people who were unable to be re-employed elsewhere to avoid broader issues in their society. It is understandable that businesses would see this and feel concerned. Surely this process would cost a lot of time and money, to save the organisation’s reputation?

This is the catch, however - Google believes that supporting and retraining displaced employees as a result of automation is the role of the Government, not of individual organisations. This is because automation as a whole is placed to pump trillions of dollars into the economy in the years to come. With that in mind, it is not a large or significant expectation of Google for the Government to create policies and support networks to retrain employees that are displaced, and support them while they find their feet. It is also understood that in order for the Government to do this, it would need to attract investment to pay for it. However, surely the gains to the economy would make it worthwhile?

This is exactly how an organisation can become more progressive. Automation will help shape a more attractive bottom line, and therefore allow more money for the creative and inventive process. This leaves more breathing space for truly remarkable solutions and a better customer experience overall.   

This article was written by Presence of IT's Liam McNeill on LinkedIn.