There’s a lot being said right now about robots and their taking our jobs, including on this blog. But there’s a timing issue with a lot of what they are saying, in my view. A new article in Forbes says that HR departments in the US are not equipped to deal with the fallout from roboticisation. I agree. It then goes on to give advice on what to do. With which I disagree.
- Consider the job and whether it can be automated.
- When you have automated, reskill.
Except that’s probably not what’s going to happen. I predict the flow will be more like:
- Consider what can be replaced with a machine and what the pay back time is. ROI calculations for robots suggest getting rid of people is a key element of the business case.
- Get rid of the people who used to do the job.
But the “planned obsolescence” could go something like this:
- Consider what can be replaced with robots.
- Do a people impact study.
- Figure out what else the people could do that robotics can’t do yet.
- Reskill the ready, willing, and able.
- Get them to implement robots in their job.
- Get them to move onto their new roles.
Admittedly, it’s overly simplified, but hopefully the point I am making about timing is relevant. If HR departments want to get ahead of the game, even better yet would be to do the people impact study now, before the proof of concepts and acquisition phases are underway. And to work out ways in which people measures beyond labour arbitrage can be incorporated into evaluations.
Otherwise the cost imperative of many businesses today will be the driving reason to change and a generation will lose out on economic contribution due to being ready and willing, but probably not able.