The False Dichotomy of Smart Technologies

For years, we’ve heard about how machines are coming for our jobs. We may even know some people who have been replaced by machines of some sort. This has given workers an overarching fear that once the machines are smart and capable enough to do what they do, that they will be out on their cans with few real options. This is mostly a fallacy. Today, we will explore the notion that machines are out for our jobs and how they may actually work to make our jobs better.

 

The Correlation Between Automation and Downsizing

There is no secret that in order to run a business effectively you have to spend less than you take in. It seems like pretty simple math, but unless you’ve worked in management, you’d be surprised how little shifts in business make this possible sometimes. One regrettable way a company cuts their costs is to let their workers go. After all, payroll is still one of (if not the) largest expenses many businesses have. With new technologies being introduced that make it possible to replace the work of certain employees, it can cause some consternation and fear among the workforce.

 

Some workers are going to lose their jobs due to automation, that much is true. Some people–mostly those who had jobs that computer-based machines can do much faster and much better–will be casualties of their business’ shift in strategy. A good manager will find the resource that does the job that’s needed more effectively, and in today’s business environment, many times these are AI-driven smart technologies. That’s not to say that smart technologies don’t offer other opportunities for some workers, however.

 

Let’s take a brief look at one industry that is primed to be overtaken by automation: truck drivers. Today, several manufacturers are creating technologies designed to ship goods from one place to another using autonomous vehicles. This has been in the works for a while now, and it looks as if the technology is going to be a major disruptor in that industry. For decades, truckers were protected by unions, but as the unions started to lose their power, many became independent contractors. This leaves them no hope if the businesses they currently drive truck for start purchasing and using automated vehicles to move goods.

 

Furthermore, the aging truck driver may not have the skills necessary to compete for a similarly-paying job. The fear is that as technology becomes a disruptor in industries like this that the people that are cast out won’t have the resources to educate themselves for a new job; leaving those people to work lower-wage jobs, or worse yet, become dependent on the government. The business, which always wants to do more with less, can, but workers that are cast aside by this newfound efficiency become a cautionary tale. This is not ideal for anyone.

Strange, But True

This us vs. them story is the way of business. Competition is said to make the market economy possible. What isn’t often mentioned is that automated systems don’t have to replace workers. They will to some degree, of course, but the lion’s share of workers can thrive with the use of automated systems; especially the ones that learn as they go. Why is this narrative not observed more? It’s simple, the story of a person whose job responsibilities change with the deployment of AI isn’t as interesting as a story about swaths of workers that are displaced by corporate greed.

 

The truth is that many businesses will be using automation to make their employees’ work experiences better. There are a lot of procedural tasks that need to be completed, there are emails to be written and sent out, there are reports to be run. This is true whether you are a Fortune 500 company or a mom-and-pop pizzeria. The truth is that as it stands today there are a minimal amount of tasks that can (or should) be completed by smart tech. Automation can actually have an extremely positive impact on people’s ability to do work. It can allow businesses to cut costs while also providing a pathway to get their workers to focus completely on revenue-growing tasks. So the dichotomy between automation and the modern workforce doesn’t necessarily have to be disruptive, it can also be good for both the business and the worker.

 

For the company that is making the choice about increasing the prevalence of automation over the next few years, their workforce will be at the forefront of this shift, not left behind like many have projected. Let’s go back to the automated trucks. Every automated truck so far has required there be a passenger (driver) in the truck at all times to ensure things go smoothly. These shipping professionals may not be driving the truck as they did in the past, but they are still employed and with the benefits that automation brings to the industry, they will still be paid in line with what they were making when they were the operator of the vehicle. Companies will save money on logistics, fuel costs, and more, but as of this writing there aren’t many plans to cut out these professionals, just alter the job a bit.

 

What are your thoughts about automation and smart technology’s effect on the modern worker? Do you think that these smart systems will eventually replace the skilled labor fields, or do you think that people and machines can work in concert to provide better work environments and stabilize rising costs? Leave your thoughts about this issue in the comments section below.

 

consistency

Building Trust in Business with a Consistent Approach

For a worker, one of the most maddening things that can happen at work is when there is a lack of consistency with the leadership. It can throw a figurative wrench into everything that you are trying to accomplish. Some examples of people not being consistent include:

 

  • Not doing something when they say they will.
  • Not showing up to meetings on time or at all.
  • Creating business processes without announcing changes and then expecting people to know what to do without being briefed.
  • Promising new services without checking if the company can deliver.
  • Guaranteeing success without a plan to do so.

 

Inconsistency can cause turnover, inefficiency, poor customer service and support, and many other poor results. It affects workers, customers, and even potential customers. Today, we thought we’d take a look at how consistency is important.

Consistency Shows Respect

We might as well start at the most troubling part of being inconsistent when you run a business: it shows a complete lack of responsibility. As a business owner, your staff has to take your lead and your customers make commitments based on your word. If you are just flying by the seat of your pants in every situation, the lack of consistency will be apparent.

 

Many people take an inconsistent approach, especially one that shows a lack of interest in the issue at hand, to be a giant slap in the face. The best leaders are the ones that lead by example. Doing the right things for your staff and for your customers will be reciprocated at a very high percentage. Building trust has to be on the short list of any organizational leader’s to-do list, so setting the tone and being consistent can really help establish trust.

Consistency Creates a Culture of Accountability

When you work with other people, there has to be some accountability taken by each member of the team, especially in a management capacity. If you are managing people and they have inconsistent results, you wouldn’t say they were doing a good job, would you? The same goes for when you are managing people. If you bring inconsistent leadership, you will get mixed results, inflated costs, and a general lack of productivity.

Consistency Allows for Useful Analysis

One often overlooked reason to prioritize a consistent approach is that if things are done consistently then you can get reliable metrics for any analysis you are going to do. It may take some time to build consistency with new platforms, but after some time (at least three months), if the issue you are trying to measure has been carried out consistently, after a pretty short period of time it will give you the notion if it is working or if it isn’t.

Consistency Defines Your Business

Nowadays businesses do more to manage their reputation than at any other period in business history. They have to, they are exposed in ways older businesses weren’t. If customers and workers get a fair shake and find that your business’ processes are carried out consistently, the negativity will be muted. Consider a Major League Baseball Umpire. His job is to call balls and strikes, and he may have a wider or taller strike zone, but if he constantly calls the same pitches a strike, hitters won’t complain too much.  Your business can still be innovative and do things outside the box, but if you change things repeatedly with no warning, people are going to get frustrated.

 

How consistent is your business? What do you think the most important part about being consistent is? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below and return to our blog for more great business and technology advice.