The Future of Human Work

Posted by  Chris Tithof

The stagnation of productivity has deteriorated recovery efforts after the great financial crisis of 2008, and robots have been presented as a solution to increase productivity. The revolution of machine learning and artificial intelligence, or AI, technology has garnered the notion of robots taking over jobs traditionally performed by humans as a way to reduce costs while augmenting output. However, positioning robots as workers can be viewed as a disruptive force that could threaten the future state of the role of human workers. If robots start filling in traditional human occupations, then what does this mean for the future of human work?

Research predicts that a staggering 5 million workers will be displaced with robots by the year 2020. In fact, one of the largest global suppliers of Samsung and Apple, Foxconn, has already replaced the jobs of approximately 60,000 workers with robots at its site in China. This transformation has been in the works for years. Even machine learning enabled software programs to take on repetitive tasks traditionally performed by paralegals and junior lawyers, such as legal discovery documentation searches, over five years ago.

However, this influx of machine workers has prompted new opportunities in human work that will likely transform duties to progressively involve activities that robots and machines have yet to master: creativity, flexibility, social skills and innovative thinking. These skills can be harnessed and coordinated if technological advances are embraced to move workers from repetitive tasks to value-focused jobs with the help of next-generation systems. Prepare yourself and your business for what the future of human work means by understanding the evolution of work roles and the need for next-generation systems.

Role Evolution

Many assumptions exist about what the proliferation of robots and machine learning mean for the future of human work, but one that must be examined is the type of roles this technological disruption affects and how it can evolve. Studies indicate that machines will more likely take over rules-based roles, such as customer service representative, loan officer, telemarketers and tax preparers. On the other hand, occupations that require creative and social intelligence, such as fashion designers, teachers and sales engineers are less likely to be replaced by robots. Thus, roles are evolving to require skills that are less repetitive and require more innovation.

This evolution can be seen in the education and technology industries where teachers are educating hundreds to thousands of students online through MOOCs, and even workers and businesses are sharing their personal skills as online educators to communities of designers, makers and entrepreneurs through project-based assignments that offer certificates of completion. This role transformation uses machine learning to facilitate automation and human interaction to drive social engagement through service. However, coordinating these systems can get complicated as time moves forward. That is why embracing a system that coordinates these efforts is essential. Global production can increase through the utilization of next-generation systems.

A Need for Next-Generation Systems

Task automation calls for new roles to be managed by human workers that will involve innovative thinking and creativity. Implementing next-generation systems that leverage technology can provide an answer for the issue of stagnated productivity. Next-generation systems such as enterprise resource planning and student information systems can harness people skills with the aid of technology to lower production costs and enhance user experiences. For example, Unit4's Student Management system provides an all-encompassing view of a student's progress that is available to all touchpoints, from educators to counselors, for an enhanced user experience and coordination efforts.

The implementation of next-generation systems presents a viable solution to position human workers in roles that require social skills, innovative thinking, flexibility and creativity in the future. The future of human work can evolve to utilize these unique human skills with the assistance of next-generation systems.

Unit4 sits at the heart of a growing partner ecosystem. This ecosystem is tackling the productivity paradox by offering a people-centric alternative to the process-focused systems that have dominated the enterprise software market. Find out more here

Chris Tithof

How can you benefit from the unparalleled need for digital transformation? As a Unit4 Partner, you can deliver a seamless digital experience with people-centric ERP to the countless service and government organizations who need to transform for their digital future. Focus on higher-value services, help your clients grow, and build a sustained relationship as a trusted strategic advisor in the process.

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