Technology innovations have been an integral part in working life for decades now, with robots working factory lines, increased intelligence in everyday devices and self-checkout machines etc.
These solutions have been key in speeding up process and supporting organisations in quickly driving revenue. However a question that we need to start asking is, if machines can increasingly take the tedious tasks, what will employees do? Well, studies conducted suggest that “Innovation is now recognized as the single most important ingredient in any modern economy—accounting for more than half of economic growth in America and Britain.” As such, it is time that the machines did the heavy lifting and enabled us as employees to innovate, invent and create, to expand revenue streams. Put simply, we have an opportunity to stop and assess the effort we are expending and ask our employees if it’s ‘time spent or time well spent?”
Ideally technology should support a labour structure whereby employees’ productivity is vastly improved to provide employees with time to drive ingenuity. User interface has tackled part of this, with employees demanding more user friendly and simple experiences from technology, much like what they experience within their personal lives. An example for this is the use of technologies such as SAP Fiori which enabled National Grid to increase employee productivity by 20 percent, essentially meaning employees could spend one day a week on creative processes, to generate revenue.
If we delve a little deeper into some of the latest technology trends such as machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and even chat bots, we can see the full potential of a world run through automation. Take retail as an industry example. AI has long since been the myth of Sci-Fi films, but is now present in a number of organisational processes, such as customer service. If businesses could leverage the potential of AI to rapidly respond to primary customer queries or concerns, employees would have more time to understand the needs of consumers to create new customer service offerings.
Digital solutions are providing an alternative that ensures human capital can be used to revolutionise business models. Following the example above, retail websites use chatbots, that are equipped with AI to speak to customers and support them with complaints and finding products. Generally, someone would have to be employed to configure these chatbots to respond appropriately to customer queries and initiate the appropriate follow up action. However, Machine Learning is enabling AI devices to teach themselves how to respond to different scenarios, making this a mostly self-managed process. This simple and efficient system allows businesses to manage inbound requests with greater ease, to increase productivity and drive employee led innovation.
Within consumerist societies, revenue growth depends on our ability to innovate in order to provide consumers with new and unique offerings. Without innovation economies will stagnate, for example Japan’s economy, while healthy, has stalled due to a lack of importance placed on entrepreneurialism and creativity. As economies and businesses we should all be looking at ways we can drive innovation and how we can enable employees to spend their time well on this. Yes, the machines are coming for our jobs, as we know them, but this isn’t such a bad thing. They will provide us with the time to focus our energy on innovation and creation, which is solely (at least today) a human capability.
Kevin Kimber is head of Cloud for SAP UK & Ireland.
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