I,Robot – All men saw it coming


We at Wizards Island define knowledge work automation as the use of computers to perform jobs that rely on multifaceted analyses, delicate decisions, and imaginative problem solving.

These competences not only extend calculating into new realms (for example, the ability to “learn” and make basic judgments), but also create new associations between knowledge workers and machines.

It is gradually possible to interact with a machine the way one would with a coworker. So, instead of assigning a team member to pull all the information on the recital of a certain product in a specific market or waiting for such a request to be turned into a job for the IT department, a manager or executive could simply ask a computer/robot/machine to provide the data.

This has the prospective to provide more timely access to information and raise the quality and pace of choice making and, subsequently, performance.

Knowledge work automation or casually put as robotics is a necessity as organizations want:

Winning and keeping customers

Developing good governance

Managing risk and building resilience

Achieving operational excellence

Harnessing new technology and learning to innovate appropriately

Wizards Island estimates that by 2025 the automation of knowledge work will have an economic impact circa $6 trillion, which will have far-reaching effects on the 240 million knowledge workers globally.

Knowledge work automation is made possible by advances in three distinct areas, which include “computing technology (including processor speeds and memory capacity), machine learning, and natural user interfaces such as speech recognition technology”.

Computing Technology

Advances in computing technology can be best described as “extremely fast processors that can process trillions of calculations a second to analyze information. The innovation in memory chips allows computers to keep tabs on huge databases.

The ability to learn from past experiences and observe trends helps make computer predictions about the future possible, while increasing accuracy”

Machine Learning

Machine learning techniques such as deep learning and neural networks give computers the ability to draw conclusions from patterns they discern within massive data sets. Computers with machine learning capabilities no longer rely only on fixed algorithms and rules provided by programmers.

This technology gives companies a competitive advantage in that they can analyze and extract relevant information from large amounts of data in a much shorter time, and at a much lower cost than a human.

Natural User Interfaces

Advances in natural user interfaces such as speech and gesture recognition technology give computers the ability to respond directly to human commands and requests. For example, Apple’s Siri and Google use such natural user interfaces to recognize spoken words, interpret their meanings, and act on those meanings.

As a result, managers will no longer have to invest their time in learning computer syntax or sending a request to the IT department to get a question answered by a computer.

Robotic process automation (RPA) or Knowledge work automation (KWA) is a double-edged sword, Robots will eventually create more jobs than we could ever have imagined. But we should also be cautioned that before this job growth, there's likely to be a lot of social unrest as income inequality increases.

Rather than looking to untapped geographic regions -- 'the next India' -- to drive greater profitability, the new untapped potential will be found through digitization and automation.



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