During the Industrial Revolution, machines started doing the work of people. Nearly everything was made by hand for generations. Seemly overnight machines could make things faster and cheaper. Naturally, people were fearful of losing their jobs and resentful of the machines. This fear comes through in the folklore of the time. The legend of John Henry is my favorite.
Today, I see similar fear and resentfulness of Intelligent Automation in the media. However, I haven’t seen it in the workplace! Frankly put, the people don’t like the work that is being automated. They don’t like sifting through Excel spreadsheets and entering data into computers. They don’t like going through long workflows that touch multiple legacy business systems. They don’t like making the inevitable manual mistake, being corrected, and rework. I believe that this work won’t be missed.
In my experience, they also don’t like routine, repetitive customer servicing. They prefer to help out customers with complex, unique problems. In most cases, these problems aren’t frequent enough to be automated and require human skills to solve. This is a win-win for the business and customer. Customers prefer to do their own routine servicing online (at low cost) and want a human to help them when they encounter problems. Helping a customer in a critical moment creates an enormous opportunity to increase their satisfaction and your reputation (it also creates great data).
The work of looking up customers’ information, recording the notes of their issue, or manually fixing their data should be done by Intelligent Automation. The job of understanding the customers’ problems and helping them solve them will remain in human hands. Humans are designed to communicate, create and solve complex problems that will be far out of reach for machines in our lifetime.
Experts agree that low-skill (repetitive and manual) work will be automated. Smart companies focus on upskilling their existing associates to jobs that leverage their knowledge of the work and their natural talents. In some cases, I have trained associates to build their own Intelligent Automation using low-code tools resulting in real changes to their careers. Like the Industrial Revolution, Intelligent Automation will result in higher-paying and more satisfying jobs.