Software and automation acceleration – Is your industry next?

The combination of software and automation acceleration are creating business model disruptions and a jobless future in many industries. Is your industry next?

On January 2, 2010, the Washington Post reported that the first decade of the 21st century resulted in the creation of no new jobs. This is an astonishing fact since it is arguably the first time in history that a growing population hasn’t been matched by a similar growth in jobs.

 

We can usually point to one or several economic crises as the chief culprits for this joblessness, but the real truth spells software and robots, or to be more precise: Efficiency gains from an online world with more and more advanced software development, plus the rapid automation from introducing better and smarter robots in the manufacturing industry, has contributed to this no-growth in jobs.

 

Some very reputable researchers, Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey and Associate Professor Michael Osborne, have collaborated with Citi analysts to investigate the extent of automation, its effects on the labor market, and the potential risk of long-term stagnation.  Many industries run the risk of being completely reinvented by finite, disruptive changes: Not only in the way they do business, but also in the amount of people that would be employed in these industries – they are looking at a future with less colleagues at work. For example, up to 87% of jobs in accommodation & food services are at risk of automation. Even in some relatively skilled industries, such as finance and insurance, up to 54% of jobs could be displaced over the next decade or two; some health-related services may be next, such as radiologists.

 

To understand these changes fully requires us to do something quite unique in the business world of today – To stop and actually think for a while. By thinking we mean not only thinking about how we could do the things we do today faster, cheaper and better, but actually think about this: The way we do business is fundamentally challenged by the tsunami of business disruptions that are already swooshing over the old business landscape today.

 

A good book on the topic is ”Rise of the Robots – Technology and the threat of a jobless future by Martin Ford” (Basic Books 2015). In his book, Ford asks a frightening, but necessary question: ”Can accelerating technology disrupt our entire economic system to the point where a fundamental restructuring is required? Undoubtedly this question is closely interlinked with observations on growing global inequality, but that is something we will come back to in a later article…

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