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Workflow, Automation (and Robotics)

Workflow, Automation (and Robotics)

March of the Machines?

Author: Jeff Armstrong/Monday, September 09, 2013/Categories: Automation & Workflow

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Last night on 60 Minutes, Steve Kroft's segment:  Help Wanted - the march of the machines, reported on how technological advancements, primarily robotics and automation, are revolutionizing the workplace.  Actually, it was the second time CBS aired this episode.  The premise was that rapidly accelerating improvements in technology are making companies more productive than ever but are not necessarily creating jobs.  Structured tasks and job functions that used to require human involvement are being replaced by robotics and automation. Flesh and blood replaced by 1's and 0's.  


In other words, good for the companies bad for workers.


In Larry Barett's Workflow blog he states: "Workflow does a lot of things, but perhaps what it does best is delineate the difference between the haves, the want-to-haves and the have-nots - the winners and losers of this digital revolution.


Erik Brynfolfssons, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and featured in both Larry's blog and 60 minutes, says  “It’s the great paradox of our era, productivity is at record levels, innovation has never been faster, and yet at the same time, we have a falling median income and we have fewer jobs. People are falling behind because technology is advancing so fast and our skills and organizations aren’t keeping up.” 

So where does this leave the average American worker or company?

Hopefully, we won’t end up in some Metropolis style conclusion where the working class is sharply separated from the elite or devolve into a Matrix-esqe type situation where computers are ominously running the show.  I don’t think this will happen.  At least, I hope not.

Right now you have to find the ways to make these advancements work for you.  Keep your head on a swivel and keeping looking for ways to leverage existing and emerging technology.  If you don’t, it will be a competitive disadvantage.

We are living in the year 2013 and the advances in automation as they pertain to business technology and IT infrastructure are exciting and trans-formative. Companies are doing much more with less.  Business computing is marching to the cloud.  Data and applications are accessed anywhere, anytime.  IT infrastructure can be remotely managed - monitored by other computers and set up to self-heal through automated best practices, security updates and patches.   Company operations are streamlined, productivity goes up and costs go down.   

Even printers and copiers can be automated - set up to alert a service provider when they need servicing and set up to order replacement toner when running low.  Little or no human involvement, machines automating structured tasks.  Efficiency going up and costs going down.  

As long as us homo sapiens are still in charge, we will make the technology work for us, not the other way around.

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