Human Robot

In discussing the idea of human robots, I look at how my own work has changed over the last thirty years. My first job out of university as an IT Manager (1988), was robotic in nature. We were processing and collecting data, checking batches using very primitive machines to generate reports as output. We spent 85% to 90% of our time on processing as opposed to interpreting, I was in fact a human robot. Technology has progressed significantly over the last 30 years with automation taking over the processing in minutes and hours. The human robotic jobs are in decline.

Do you see increased automation as a threat or an opportunity for your business? As your business moves away from a transactional processing model to being more relationship-based, how do you get your team to change from the human robot mentality? Do you find they only want to process and that’s it? As technology evolves, the need to leverage experience with new skills increases. There is value in transactional knowledge and experience, however, the challenge you face is how to transform your staff as opposed to starting again.

The question is, how has your business model changed over time? Are you still thinking of a model where you only buy stock and put it on the shelves? Or are you delivering on customer needs that may be a combination of transactional with quality advice and attentive listening skills? How are you training your team and preparing everybody for the demise of the human robots?

There’s a new era of technology gaining momentum that was accelerated due to COVID. Cloud computing has changed our access to technology. A few years ago getting a new server was a 6 week process, now you can add a virtual server in less than a few minutes on Microsoft Azure (as one example of cloud platforms) at a fraction of the cost of physical hardware.

I remember back in the mid eighties, when the fax machine was the only example of office automation, word processing systems were relatively primitive and not widely used. Back then an email was internal messaging and so forth. Now working from home and mobile computing is considered the fax machine of the 2020s. 

I think the shift away from pure processing based business models is going to be confronting for many people. I compare the era of the typing pools when I had a job at the Sunday Times (1982). The tape recorded or hand written articles would be transcribed and typed up by several ladies in the typing pool. They would spell and grammar check (word process). The finished typed copy would be physically carried by a Copy Boy (my job) down to the printing level for type setting. The typing pool disappeared as technology evolved. Now voice to text on your phone or PC does the typing for you, assuming it understands you of course.

Granted not all business models will need to change overnight. However, I think you need to consider how robotic your business model is and if your need to change model before its too late. Savy businesses are a combination of relationships, experience and non robotic skills. You will leverage automation to deliver better value or deliver services quicker to meet customer needs.

Your team will need to grow their knowledge and skill base through ongoing learning. As a business owner you will need to decide are you buying or growing the skills you need. As we have seen with COVID, change was forced upon your business, but you still made the decisions as a business owner on how you responded. The age of human robots is coming to an end, so how will you respond? Are you going to become an outdated human robot or is your business finding a new cutting edge where it’s about interaction and innovation?

Need help with leveraging your business contact us. One lesson that’s been reinforced from COVID is that humans can adapt in the face of adversity, something our robots can’t do yet.