Will robots take over our jobs?

Future of Work is uncertain. This article examines whether Technology Wins and what role HR can play in shaping our future

Technology Is Winning


  • History clearly shows that technology has boosted productivity, and the consensus is that this trend will continue, i.e. Technology Wins:Robots will take on the repetitive, rules-based tasks that we are currently doing. Robots are more productive, more accurate, and with the cost of technology reducing will require less capital investment.
  • However to bust the ‘Intelligence’ myth, robots are also taking on non-routine, creative tasks that require judgement. My example, a recent clients had to scan hundreds of thousands of documents searching for employer commitments. Working with an AI partner, we were able to complete this within 3 months with high degree of accuracy, something that would have taken man-years’ worth of effort.

Doomsday Predictions


Whilst there is little disagreement about Technology Winning, there is uncertainty about the future of work, conflicting messages and plenty to concern HR leaders:

  • McKinsey (2017) estimates that 375 million workers globally (14 percent of the global workforce) may be at the risk of job losses by 2030 in their baseline scenario.
  • A recent Gallup poll showed 70% of our people are not engaged at work.
  • The “AI at Work” Oracle Report predicts 93% are ready to take orders from robots at work.
  • Mercer survey indicated 90% of employers anticipate more talent competition, especially in India, S.E Asia and North America.

Our Time to Shine


Whatever predictions you may subscribe to, the time is right for HR to act, not only in reacting to the implications, but shaping our organisations’ futures. Below is our point of view on on the next phase of the HR transformation journey:

DIGITISATION IN HR: Digitisation of HR services and processes is the new baseline. HR has been slow to react and some HR leaders are still failing to recognise this is not about driving competitive advantage it is the new (minimum) standard.

CONSUMERISM: In the short term, robots are not going to take over our roles, but by applying a consumer lens in everything we do, will help us drive a personal, more memorable experience and help us re-design our (human side) roles.

ADOPTION BEATS CHANGE MANAGEMENT: Traditional approaches to change management are no longer as effective. Speed of technology change now outstrips individual behaviour change. This requires organisations to be more flexible (Agile), creative and Adoption is the leading indicator of delivering a faster return on investment.

BRING BACK FOCUS ON CULTURE AND VALUES: Not everything old is defunct. If everyone has the same or similar ‘HR App’, an organisation drives competitive advantage because of its culture, values, and ability to engage its workforce.

IN SUMMARY: Technology is winning, the pace of change will only get faster, the expectations of our people is akin to a consumer-like experience. Technology alone will not drive sustainable competitive advantage. The real question facing us is where and how do we gain competitive advantage and drive value for our businesses? This is where we have a chance to shine, as there is no one better placed to lead our organisations through this change.

By Niraj Varia, Managing Partner, Invate-HR.Previously global Director of HR transformation and Change at Cushman & Wakefield, Niraj is now the managing partner of an innovative, boutique HR technology consulting firm with a unique perspective on how to help clients maximise their return on investment.

He has spent 6+ years leading Workday deployment, adoption and optimisation programmes, most notably Cushman & Wakefield, one of the largest HCM and Financials global deployments

Despite HR being a human-centric discipline, technology is rapidly evolving the conventions of good practice. We have put together a free 11 page e-book which includes:

– NASA’s perspective on the rise of the bots
– ‘Getting social’ with Deutsche Telecom

– Karen Brown at Baker McKenzie address humanised technology
– The concept of human robotic partnership

You can sign-up for your copy here.

rise of the machines e-book

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