Is your job in jeopardy?
On Thursday, McKinsey & Company released a report analyzing the future impact of automation on the global workforce. The report is unique in that it tries to assess the impact that technology will have on occupational tasks rather than entire occupations. Its conclusion is that “given currently demonstrated technologies, very few occupations-less than 5%- are candidates for full automation, however, almost every occupation has partial automation potential.” The result is that while you may not be replaced by a machine, you certainly will have to want to work with one, if you want to stay employed. Just how big of change is taking place? Researchers estimate that half of the world’s occupations, representing $16 trillion in wages could be automated.
Automation may impact those of us in the financial services industry more quickly than other professions. For example, 51% of all work time is spent collecting data, processing data and operating machinery. Needless to say, a lot of data processing and collection will happen at your credit union today. And although you may not deal with much heavy machinery, many of the tasks employees will take on today are the type of predictable and repetitive duties ideal for automation.
One more thing. If you think your professional status insulates you from automation’s impact guess again. Many tasks performed by professionals such as lawyers, including contract review and document preparation, can actually be performed by increasingly intelligent computers. “Dear God!”
The report optimistically predicts that, while technology will transform the workplace, it won’t do so at the speed or level of job displacement that some pundits suggest. For a more pessimistic view as to where this is all headed, read a book I have previously mentioned called “The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies .” It argues that technological innovation is increasing exponentially. As a result, assumptions about what technology can and can’t do are short-sided. It wasn’t too long ago that people laughed at the idea of a fully automated car, but now the question is not if such technology will be available but when driverless cars will become as common as smart phones. By the way, what is a smart phone?