If you’ve had a cup of coffee lately, you’ve probably been served by a robot. It might not have been a “baristabot” that took your order or handed you your latte at your local coffee shop, but somewhere along the line, from bean to bean, a smart machine most likely played its part. a role in the production of your coffee.
The use of robots and other intelligent machines in industrial processes is part of a movement often referred to as the automation revolution. Although it promises to shape the future of many industries, it is not futuristic.
Smart machines are already being used in ways we never thought possible a few years ago. And now is the time to understand the impact they can have and how best to use them to optimize work practices.
Are robots invading the workplace?
Currently, “robot density per employee,” which is a metric used to gauge the degree of automation adoption, stands at 126 bots per 10,000 employees. While that may seem low, it’s more than double the number recorded in 2015, a trend that worries some.
In early 2020, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a report titled “Work of the Future” that was developed in part to respond to growing anxiety related to the automation revolution.
In his report cover, MIT Technology Review explained the anxiety this way: “Many American workers are increasingly worried about being replaced by technology, whether it’s a robot, a more efficient computer system, or a truck. autonomous.”
While a robotic revolution resulting in the large-scale displacement of human workers is a popular concern that has been explored in countless sci-fi movies, it misses the broader potential of an automation revolution. . Robots benefit industrial processes the most by enhancing the efforts of human workers, not replacing them.
A recent report from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania shows that organizations that increase their automation through the use of robots typically hire more workers. This results from the fact that robots improve productivity, which grows business and demands an increase in non-robotic jobs. Wharton found that jobs were more often lost in companies that had not embraced the automation revolution. By resisting automation, they fell behind their competitors, lost business and had to lay off employees.
What are the next steps?
This new paradigm of robots playing a more integral role in the workplace will not develop in a vacuum. Politically and culturally, people will have to accept intelligent machines and adapt accordingly. The automation revolution will require a change not only in the way we work, but also in the way we think about work.
In the 1980s, computers entered the workplace. Some resisted, seeing the new technology as a tool to supplant the systems in place at the time.
Today, very few workplaces could survive without computers. Rather than supplanting systems, computers have become a system optimization tool. Rather than displacing workers, they created a new universe of jobs.
Robots and other intelligent machines offer the same potential to those who wish to see them as a tool that can be used to increase efficiency and productivity. Those who resist will observe the automation revolution from afar.
Scott Heric, co-founder of Unionly, has years of experience helping organizations raise funds online. He helped grow sales and account management for Avvo, which grew from 30 to 500 people in seven years. Heric then served as chief of staff at Snap Mobile Inc., where he oversaw product development, marketing, sales and account management, which grew the company into a collection platform leading digital fund in higher education. His company Unionly was acquired in January 2020. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.
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