Balance for better – Why humans still have a critical role to play?

As humans are on a high of getting digitization and robotics, dependency on humans seems to be dissipating. Organizations are looking at every angle to cut its waste, be in the form of people, time, resources or tasks and when they have already evaluated them, it’s time to look beyond and address areas that can be managed by machines, digital channels and AI. There are obvious answers for why? … profitability, customer experience, competition etc. But, can we ignore humans in this journey? Let’s find out…

According to a study by HBR, knowledge intensive sectors such as Information technology, Media, Professional Services, and Finance & Insurance are the ones leading the game whereas Agriculture, Construction, Hospitality, Healthcare, and most government organization have been largely unchanged and most likely to be same for many more years due to labour intensive and non-transactional work. Simplification is done by humans for humans as we all like things straight forward and in several areas technology enablement have raised our ability par higher e.g. Internet, self-service channels, facial recognition systems used in immigration, biometric technology, automated banking system, search engines, GPS etc. have empowered us with information and getting things done by just a click anytime, anywhere.

While it is undeniable that the role of humans may not completely vanish, but what we can expect is that various systems will have humans working alongside as a ‘hybrid decision making’ models. Decisions with human consequences are most unlikely to be fully autonomous, since such experiments in the past had been extremely fatal, like Uber driverless car test that killed a person. Without careful design, the intelligent systems making their way into the world could provoke a backlash against technology.

Nearly every occupation has some tasks that can be automated, but fewer than 5 per cent of occupations can technically be fully automated using technology that is currently available.
Digitization may work best where both customer and service provider are compatible with technology. Even for activities that can be technically automated, whether or not it would actually happen is dependent on a number of other factors: the cost of deploying robotic solutions, the economic benefits of doing so, the supply and demand of human labour, and regulatory and social acceptance.

But this is not the first time humans have faced the automation wave. In the past industrial and computer revolution like-wise impacted us, but after a long period of painful adjustment, people started realising the need to find their fitment through complementary education programs. Hence, new jobs in these avenues that never existed in past, came up and eventually made us more advanced and capable. In a similar way, while automation and AI may be seen as a treat but to handle them, workforce and our knowledge base shall also evolve.

Now the rigour is moving to digitizing interactions / transactions that form business processes and reinforcing technology enabled workforce to deliver mobility solutions such as amazon delivery partners using mobiles to track and deliver orders, wider payment platforms like portable machines, mobile wallets, bitcoin etc. While it helps companies to significantly save cost but at the same time, helps us to get things done in no time.

These human inventions drastically changed the world by virtue of our ability to think differently. So some of the essential skills that would always keep us ahead of machines is to innovate, farm opportunities, problem solve, ability to think differently, question the status quo and criticize, which sets humans apart in innovating, prescribing an alternative or considering new dimensions to expand, so overall technology and humans has its own strength and limitations. Therefore without worrying much, we should welcome this new era of opportunities and focus on skills that help us to be part of this new technology innings.

The technology binge already started around 80’s with asset digitization, when companies began investing in hardware, software such as computers, windows and overtime to data management & IT security solutions.