For long we’ve been hearing that we are heading to an age of automation. There have been people who see this as a death knell for a lot of job functions, from IT to manufacturing to law, to name a few. But what exactly is automation? How will it affect us? What is its true impact?
In simple terms, automation is the application of technology to tasks which had hitherto required a human element for execution. For example, in construction we normally have masons who build brick by brick. Traditionally, this requires a sizable man power and time for completion. But now, we have machines which can lay more number of bricks in lesser cost and time. Same applies for roles and functions in the IT sector. Developing codes and algorithms are being moved to automation functions, thereby making the developers redundant.
The rise and adoption has been a problem that we foresaw, but haven’t really done much to bypass it. The first step is change our perception of what automation does and how it affects us. Automation is not an evil system aimed at displacing human jobs. In fact, it augments with it and improves efficiency. Most sectors and domains have been set in how they perform their tasks and functions, and this seemingly sudden influx of automation is alarming them. Automation will do away with low and mid-level iterative jobs, which do not require more than one or two specific skills. But it will also give rise to newer jobs. Automation is a technology, and it requires a human to develop and implement. What the need of the hour is the upskilling and reskilling of the current workforce to be ready for these new job roles that will pop up in the coming 5-10 years.
With automation rising, there will be a surplus of low and medium skill workers who will be phased out of their jobs. This workforce needs to gain new skills to take on the emerging roles head on.
The field gaining the most traction for upskilling is analytics, and its related domains such as data science, data engineering, data analysis, machine learning, big data, internet of things, artificial intelligence, and as an extension – robotics as well. All of these are fairly technical areas – but which require a lot of critical and analytical thinking and great understanding of the business context, use cases, and application of the technology in the real world – and this is something a machine or the automation process can do, at least not yet.
Picking up these skills guarantees a place in the realm of future technologies and would be a easy way to ride the storm. But this is not to say that the learning ends there. Who’s to know what new trends will emerge and how these skills and technologies will evolve. Currently the life cycle of a new skills set is 18 months, with it constantly improving and changing for the better.
So, what we do need is the ability to adapt and evolve with the technology, not swim against it or stay still in the same space. One thing for sure is that we are speeding towards a data driven and dependent world. Data is what will guide us and it is the new currency. Yes, it will evolve and keep changing, but data will be the driving force of how businesses run and organizations perform.
If you have data skills by your side, you are already on the side of demand. And we all know that demand beats everything.
Go ahead, pick up analytics skills and stay ahead of the curve.