Digital transformation

Do you need a robot?

05 May 2017

An employee retires. Time to bring in a robot instead? Well, maybe not. But you should definitely employ robots to do what they are best at, and give them the tasks that you think are dull while you’re at it. Robotization is already part of industrial business. The next step is small enterprises.

A future in which robots carry out many of today’s jobs has been a hot topic for discussion recently. Alarmists have warned that our economies will essentially collapse when half of all jobs disappear in one fell swoop. But even if it is probable that robotization will influence our way of working in coming years, the changes will likely come gradually and with a certain refinement. One thing we can be certain of is that robotization will affect both small and large businesses.

It’s not likely that robotization will be initiated at your company by your colleague Martin being fired on Friday and an R2D2 robot put in his place on Monday morning. A more probable scenario is that some of the tasks that you and your colleagues do as part of your work will be done by automated systems. Administrative work like collecting and sorting large amounts of data is typically the type of work that will be automated.

“ We have seen several decades of automation within the industrial sector. These days, we find it natural to buy tickets from machines and so forth. But the really smart robots will make bigger changes in our lives, such as self-driving cars.”

Stefan Fölster, Director of Reforminstitutet

”More and more companies are starting to use artificial intelligence. When you call a large company in the very near future, it will be a digital assistant you talk to – an assistant that can learn from previous conversations with customers,” says Stefan Fölster, Director of Reforminstitutet and author of the book ”The Robot Revolution”. The consultancy firm McKinsey predicts in a new report that it will be tasks within specific professions as opposed to the professions themselves that will be automated or robotized (which are more or less the same thing). 

“We have seen several decades of automation within the industrial sector. These days, we find it natural to buy tickets from machines and so forth. But the really smart robots will make bigger changes in our lives, such as self-driving cars. Yes, the technology is already here, but the real advantages will come in ten to twenty years when the technology has been tried and tested and has matured,” says Stefan Fölster.

According to Stefan Fölster, there has been a change in people’s acceptance of automation in recent years. For example, in health care: “When I was out speaking about robotization in health care a few years ago there were many people who were critical. Now it’s sunk in that robots can replace the simple routine tasks, such as a shower robot or a self-flushing toilet robot. More robots in elder care wouldn’t lead to less social interaction between the caregivers and the elderly – quite the contrary.

It may be a while before you have a little metal blinking robot figure rolling around at the office. But maybe it won’t be quite so long until robotization changes what you do and how you work.

 

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