As we see increased thoughts towards the adoption of autonomous vehicles, delivery of goods via drones, chatbots taking fast food orders, immersive technology such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), then should we be concerned for the future of the job roles that we currently have and the security of the future workforce?
We increasingly hear that the next industrial revolution of robotic process automation, machine learning and AI is upon us and with this in mind, a certain amount fear, uncertainty and doubt seems to have set in. Just as history has shown with the very first industrial revolution, many people initially opposed this change due to the fear of large-scale manufacturing leading to the deskilling and replacement of the workforce.
Of course, some work practices were replaced and lower quality items initially produced but for the large majority it actually meant a surge in workforce employment and improved practices to supply the increased demand for goods. In fact, one study from Gartner Research states that while 1.8 million jobs will be lost by 2020, 2.3 million new ones will be created.
So, we should probably embrace the new industrial revolution and view it as a positive step towards improving our work and lifestyles yet further. Yes, there may well be some short-term implications concerning job replacement but in the end, the impact will be minimal just as it was with the first industrial revolution.
Therefore, following our own philosophy at Esker, whereby we embrace technological advancements such as AI to enhance the way our customers can go beyond business as usual, we have been pleasantly reassured to continue our investment in the development of such solutions.
For example, one area in which we help organisations to improve their business practices through these technological advancements is the processing of incoming customer orders. When an order arrives in the system, the data is automatically extracted with machine learning and any exceptions are flagged for review.
Approvals are then made through an automated workflow with accurate order data integrated into the ERP system. A copy is then archived for a complete electronic audit trail. Custom dashboards display data like the number of open issues or processing time, while a customer portal allows for orders to be placed from an online catalogue and for staff to quickly communicate with customers.
This allows benefits to be quickly realised, such as increasing the accuracy and efficiency of the processed data as well as improving the visibility of the workload. The result of these benefits does not diminish the skills of the workforce as perhaps perceived, but actually enables them to allocate more time to assisting customers and providing a better overall customer experience.
With this, plus the various seminars and events I’ve attended over the past few months, I have been further reassured that this new era is not the apocalyptic end to the way we do business and won’t see humans being the puppets on the strings of a far superior robotic mind intent on taking over the world!
The fact is that technological advancements should be embraced and be viewed as a positive move towards enhancing our current working practices, improving the business world and making our lives even more positively interconnected to reap the rewards it will bring.
Written by Sam Townsend – Esker Head of Marketing, Northern Europe