In years to come, we may look back on 2016 as the year that automation went mainstream. Global businesses like Twitter went after a slice of artificial intelligence (AI) pie, investing in start-ups, while Uber put driverless cars on the road.
We’re still some way off the type of widespread automation of science fiction, but we’re at a critical junction where we are witnessing the meeting of the human and robotic world, and we’re working to establish who does what, when and how. This is, however, no simple exchange.
There is no denying that the automated revolution is here; automation and AI is increasingly becoming a part of our everyday lives, and is arguably one of the fastest developing and most exciting groups of technologies around today. So what can we expect to see next year in the field of automation? Here are our eight predictions:
- Team work makes the automation dream work
Automation has been previously siloed into individual business departments, but next year we will see greater alignment as people come to the realisation that they are all trying to solve the same problem at the same time. Automation that may previously have been deployed independently in the Finance, HR and Marketing departments will fall under operation excellence teams.
- Big organisations will continue to invest
Technology and the skills needed to harness it are advancing so quickly that specialists can’t grow fast enough to keep up, and established companies aren’t agile enough to fill the gap. This means that we’ll begin to see more large organisations partnering with automation specialists to combine agility with powerful resource.
- Automation will become a priority
Businesses are beginning to realise that automation is something that can really help boost the bottom line, and therefore is here to stay. Next year, we expect to see the C-suite make automation a priority, as they seek to understand how they can incorporate it into their business.
- Data science gets specific
In 2017, we expect to see the ‘data science’ pipeline broken down into more specific areas of expertise, so that organisations are only using specialists where they are really needed.
- Playing the Trump card
The US President’s view on isolation spells uncertainty, so it’s highly likely that no new major deals will be signed with American companies when it comes to outsourcing. This doesn’t mean, however, that these jobs will be re-shored, or that they won’t be automated.
- Ignorance isn’t bliss
The UK government will continue to bury its head in the sand when it comes to automation technology and its potential impact. As it stands, the government is failing to see the bigger picture, where the UK is already one of the most skilled in the world with regards to AI and robotics, and failing to harness that talent.
- Humans and robots will collaborate
Next year will be the year that we take the robot out of humans. We’ve reached a point where business is not a case of man or machine, but a collaboration between both. As the adoption of automation becomes more prevalent, businesses will recognise that processes are easily automated. Employees will be freed of repetitive, tedious tasks, and able to focus on more interesting, value-add work.
- Automation will become an ethical issue
In 2017, automation will move beyond a technological issue, and become a social and ethical one. The interplay between humans and robots raises numerous questions around jobs, income, skills, education and safety. In the case of the US election, for instance, Trump’s margins were bigger than in areas with more routine jobs in danger of automation. We need to establish a code of ethics around automation to prevent issues before they arise.