If there’s one trend that is superseding all others in today’s workforce, it’s the shift towards automation. Yes, automation is significantly impacting jobs across a wide range of industries globally. As companies strive to improve processes, increase efficiencies and eliminate redundancy, automation is becoming imperative to achieving these goals.
Given that, administrative workers, specifically, are not partial to this movement towards automation, as much of their work can be standardized and done by intelligently designed systems. Unlike some evolutionary changes, this one might actually be for the better.
The Automated Workforce
With positions related to Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the rise in all enterprises, it’s no surprise that the automation of administrative and clerical jobs has also grown in accordance to this trend. AI strives to program machines, or robots, to perform the kinds of thinking that humans have been hired to do. It mimics the same basic principles of consciousness by teaching machines to think, assess and decide, much like the human mind in its capacity. This, in and of itself, is the basic foundation for the automation of jobs in today’s economy.
“AI adoption is on the rise and we are excited to see the investments in AI that businesses are gradually making to derive meaningful and creative change. The achievements are remarkable and the opportunities AI is bringing forth are vast.
As we are seeing AI mature and gain momentum, our research shows that the next four years will witness further spikes in interest, and general bullishness about the significant value and benefits that can be obtained through AI adoption,” says Sandeep Dadlani, President & Head of Americas, Infosys, a global leader in consulting, technology, and next-generation services.
Furthermore, according to a report from the World Economic Federation (WEF) released this year, 76% of companies cite automation as fundamental to their organization’s overall strategy. Automation can give businesses a competitive edge due to a decrease in the inefficient processes that often result from circumstances such as human error.
The WEF also released a report titled the “The Future of Jobs” in which it was stated that 7.1 million jobs could be lost through redundancy, automation, or disintermediation by 2020. Given that, the reality is that if you hold a position that lends itself to potential automation, you’re likely to see some significant changes in how your job is performed in the next little while.
Why Are Administrative Workers at a Higher Risk of Automation?
There are multiple jobs that will eventually be affected by this trend, but none more so than administrative and clerical jobs. In fact, with current AI research and development work being done specifically on the kinds of repetitive work that often comprise administrative tasks, these clerical workers are at a special risk of being taken over by machines. So, specifically, which roles will be seeing the greatest impact in the very near future?
Jobs that handle big data and encompass record-keeping are at the highest risk of being handled by automated systems. Analysts are projecting huge impacts on jobs such as, accounts payable workers and insurance claims processing agents. Compliance verification jobs also serve as perfect examples of these types of roles.
Essentially, the tasks associated to these jobs are rule-based, so it’s easy to automate a machine to handle the basics of compliance, such as ensuring regulatory integrity and the like. Obviously, handling data processes and monitoring this data can be less costly and more efficient when a so-called “robot” is handling it. As long as the majority of the work can be done by complying with set rules, processes and big data repositories, then automation is easily achievable.
What The Future Holds
Now that we know all this, we’re left with one burning question, and that is: what does this mean for the future? Well, it means that although your job might be at risk of automation, you’ll likely be left doing more interesting work instead of the mundane tasks associated to your current job. That is, in 80% of cases where companies are replacing roles with automated processes, organizations are re-training staff to retain them in the business.
Moreover, 53% of these companies are specifically investing in skills development. That means that those currently holding administrative jobs will be spending more of their time on innovation and working at being more creative.
Thus, instead of these workers concerning themselves with how automation might place their jobs at risk, there should be more of a focus on how automation might enhance the ways in which they work. In fact, those keen on staying within this particular line of work will probably have the opportunity to expand their horizons and work on aspects of the work that challenges their “out-of-the-box” thinking capabilities.
As Internet Pioneer Vint Cerf puts it, “historically, technology has created more jobs than it destroys and there is no reason to think otherwise in this case.”
Yes, current administrative and clerical jobs are at risk of automation, but that’s not to say it’s for the worst. In an age of digitalization and machine learning, it’s important that the workforce starts stepping up to the plate and leveraging their thinking skills to create, innovate and do better.
Gone are the days of mundane task-work as finally, we’re beginning to welcome an age of exceptional creativity, especially for those who might need it most.
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