How Early Adopters Can Influence and Improve Workplace Automation

Early adopters — the demographic of individuals who are the first to use new technology and innovations in their day-to-day life — have been responsible for spreading many technological trends and are often highly influential in the success of certain companies. One such example is the popularity of Apple computers with young software developers. Apple reaps the benefits of a laptop brand that is now seen as a trendy accessory for those working in startups and co-working spaces.

“Would you like me to help you?”

As they have driven previous trends, early adopters will also be key in the use and development of workplace automation. The companies who integrate automation — and the machines and software that shift mundane tasks away from humans — at an early stage will be the first entities to learn how to best use these tools in a corporate or industrial environment and shape how they interact with human co-workers. Any issues and bugs that early adopters experience can be swiftly reported and dealt with by the manufacturer, and the design of the models can be updated before the tools become more mainstream.

Not only will they learn utilization faster, but early adopters are also well placed to figure out the best use cases of automation in different industries. There is currently a lot of discussion about the possibility of redefining jobs and processes so that machines can work alongside humans. Some experts believe that the introduction of automation to the workplace will replace human workers, and leave a growing population without jobs. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen on an industry-to-industry basis and as a result of the decisions made by these early adopters.

Landscape

Current research from Mckinsey shows that less than 5% of occupations could be entirely automated, so few people need to worry about losing their jobs entirely to a machine. However, around 60% of occupations could see 30% of their daily responsibilities and tasks automated. For instance, physicians will spend less time diagnosing patients as there are computer programs currently being developed that will do this. Similarly, financial lenders will be able to pass over their paperwork to machines that can inspect and process applications for loans. As soon as the early adopters take on new automation and machines in the workplace, this theory will be put to the test, and it will become very apparent to what extent a particular career will be automated.

Automation as a feature, not replacement

Early adopters will also be the first users to gauge whether un-emotive machines could prove problematic to the workplace. Sensing emotion is fundamental to human nature, but it is something that machines and software are much less able to do. As there are very few jobs that we understand require a high ability to sense human emotion, many experts believe that this shouldn’t pose a problem for robots in the workplace. In fact, it could prove beneficial for machines to stick to mundane and repetitive tasks, leaving human workers more time to focus on tasks that require emotion and creativity. Again, this is something early adopters can experiment with.

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As well as playing a part in figuring out the most automatable activities in workplaces, early adopters will be able to help developers and manufacturers better understand their potential in a professional capacity. We are unable to see whether a task carried out by a machine would be technically feasible until we can put the machine to the test. But even then, it would need to be tested in the workplace by employees to see whether the machine can carry out the tasks effectively. As early adopters are often the very first users of technological equipment, they will be able to see the true potential of these machines and can then put them to their best use in the workplace.

Early adopters will play a very big part in unrolling automation technology throughout various workplaces and shaping its uses and interactions with human co-workers. From exploring their best positions in companies to helping finetune the different machines and models so that they can be effectively used in suitable occupations, early adopters will be right at the forefront of these new technologies, ensuring that there are few faults or issues when the majority of workers begin to leverage machines.

If you are interested in the future of automation and machines in the workplace, download the Animal Ventures primer on augmented and artificial intelligence.

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