Robots taking our jobs has been a plot line of multiple sci-fi movies, and discussions on automation have been growing as the movies become reality. Technology is disrupting standard workplace structures as ‘robots’ can do tasks much faster than humans and without errors.
While many may view automation as a threat to employment, this hasn’t stopped companies from adopting these new technologies. In the last two years there has been an increase in companies adopting automation to replace humans for repetitive tasks.
“Many consider this a threat, but companies see it as a great opportunity to create new high-quality jobs that require human intelligence and creativity,” said Fanie Botha, COO of FIRtech Holdings, a company focused on helping business with their “fourth industrial revolution” (4IR) strategies.
According to the World Economic Forum, the fourth industrial revolution refers to the change and advancement in human development as a result of extraordinary technological advances. Such as, automation in the workplace through artificial intelligence and robotics.
Much like adoption of technology from the third industrial revolution, like the microprocessor which revolutionised manufacturing, adoption of robotic technologies will help streamline business tasks, increase accuracy, save time and reduce costs.
“It’s not about removing people, but rather about using them for vital processes and tasks that require intelligence, imagination, contextualisation and creativity. These new jobs will also bring new opportunities for learning and allow employees to develop themselves with more creative work elsewhere,” Botha explained.
The 4IR doesn’t only apply to the manufacturing industry, finance departments can save hours of avoidable repetitive tasks and rework caused by human errors in their financial reporting processes. Robots don’t need to take breaks and they don’t make mistakes that workers frequently do when tasks are prolonged and mundane.
A survey found that the average amount of repetition and avoidable rework in accounting departments can take up to 30% of a full-time employee’s overall time.
This doesn’t mean there is no human value in finance departments though, robots can’t do analytic work like interpreting reports and so human workers are not made obsolete.
This means that rather than resisting automation, companies should evaluate how they are working and look at reskilling staff within the context of robots completing the repetitive work. This would prepare them for what appears to be the inevitable and create a better balance between human-machine collaboration.