Is Automation the Problem….Or the Solution?

Despite its growing popularity and increasing adoption, many people – including those in high level executive positions – still view automation as a threat rather than a solution. Is there validity to their concern? Or are they simply not seeing the forest for the trees?

According to Forrester, while 16% of U.S. jobs will be lost over the next decade as the result of artificial intelligence and technology, 13.6 million new jobs will be created during that time due to the trend. Furthermore, a recent study by Deloitte revealed that 800,000 low-skill jobs were eliminated by AI and other automation technologies, 3.5 million new jobs were created. Additionally, those new jobs actually paid an average of $13,000 more per year than the ones that were eliminated.

The reality is, people need to not only see automation for what it can accomplish, the most notable being cost savings and maximum productivity, but also re-envision what the jobs of tomorrow will look like. Like it or not, automation technology is changing the way we work forever. Forward-thinking organizations are recognizing this and pivoting to adapt their approach and remain at the forefront of this change.

A great example of this is the Marlin Steel factory in Baltimore. As a result of offshoring undercutting their prices, Marlin Steel invested in robotic wire-forming machines and changed their direction to focus on producing products for companies like General  Motors and Boeing. The demand for these high-quality products coupled with the increased productivity, efficiency and cost-effectiveness the company achieved through automation made it possible for Marlin Steel to hire more people and increase wages. Ironically, if it weren’t for robots, a great number of employees would have ultimately lost their jobs.

In addition to creating new roles and hiring additional staff, automation is also enabling existing employees at businesses across the globe to be reskilled and ultimately retained. Some are promoted to new positions, such as Automation Engineer while others will become trainers helping coworkers learn how to leverage the AI technology to their advantage. Innovative organizations are going all in, creating internal automation centers of excellence (CoE) and promoting employees to manage them.

According to one recent study, 10,000 new AI jobs were created in the U.S. in the past year alone. Is automation disruptive? Absolutely. Will it cause significant change in the way businesses of all industries operate? Yes. Will jobs be lost as a result? Certainly. But as is already being evidenced, AI technology is turning out to be far more beneficial than it is detrimental.

Most importantly, automation will enable companies to evolve and redefine who they are, making them more competitive and in a much better position for success in the future. The question is, which side will you be on when that future is inevitably upon us?

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