By Leon Gettler >>
ROBOTS are taking over industry and businesses need to get ready.
Mervin Chiang, head of market development at Procensol Australia, said companies needed to get on with their change management programs to get ready for it.
He said robots were already taking over, even though we might not yet know it.
“If you think about it, technology always starts with the home before the corporates,” Mr Chiang told Talking Business.
“We had the weekend experience of social media before corporates started using things like Slack and Teams in various chatting ways to collaborate. It happened at home before it happened with the corporates,” Mr Chiang said.
“It’s the same with robotics and AI (artificial intelligence). We have Google Home, we have Alexa, we have Google Assist on our phones and we use GPS. There is a lot of AI everywhere.
“It’s no longer a robot arm that puts a car together, I think a lot of people think about bots and then automatically think of Terminator and robot arms. We’ve got to expand that understanding and corporates are trying to catch up.”
BOTS COPY YOUR KEYSTROKES
Mr Chiang said bots could now be programmed to mimic keyboard strokes to help alleviate menial, mundane or brain-numbing tasks of copying and pasting spreadsheets or crating letters out of systems. This made them an important part of any business.
“If you think about it, any industry that needs a computer to do work would have lots of spreadsheets, PDFs, emails to deal with and with quite a percentage of that work, bots can already do it today,” he said.
“So if you think about bots that way and not just robot arms in the production line or AI in a kind of futuristic predictive super-smart, Teminator 2 type of way, then pretty much every industry would be impacted by it. We already have chatbots in the retail and services industry so it’s starting to grow and hit every industry.”
This means people need to redefine what a bot means and understand what it can do for the business. He said rather than resulting in massive job losses, it could create many new jobs.
“I see it more as productivity prosthetics, to help with productivity and creativity, to take away the boring bits so that we can actually thrive,” Mr Chiang said.
“So if you’re part of an industry where your skill set is to do the boring bit, then we as employers in the industry have a responsibility to upskill or change the way they’re skilled to help increase productivity,” he said.
He said companies need to plan ahead and know that it’s coming. They need to invest in change management.
“It’s really basic transformation stuff. To understand there is a new technology. It’s potentially disruptive. To collaborate,” he said.
Mr Chiang said one of the big issues was that when bots or AI are introduced into organisations, the issue becomes whose job it is to manage. Is it the CIO’s job? The person in IT? Is it an HR job to upskill and train?
“Planning collaboration between HR and IT is one of the key steps and also to understand where these knowledge workers are and how they can actually increase their productivity if you take away the boring bits,” Mr Chiang said.
“To be able to plan what that is actually quite important.”
He said businesses needed to start planning for a digital workforce. One that will be more skilled.
Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.