I’ve been re-reading a really interesting piece from McKinsey from the end of last year, about automating business tasks and processes.
We’re used to reading articles about humans being replaced with robots, in more or less alarmist tones. Opinions vary, with Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne in Oxford saying that 47% of occupations could be automated within 20 years, and at the other end of the spectrum, David Autor of MIT saying this is wildly overstated.
More interesting than whether the age of Skynet is imminent, though, is the idea of automating certain tasks rather than entire occupations. We’ve all got tasks that we find dull, repetitive, or not a good use of our faculties (I’m looking at you, data reporting!), so why not design software or technology that can take those off our shoulders?
The authors of the McKinsey article point out that not only does this provide value in terms of the task being done quickly and efficiently, but it also frees up human beings to do things only human beings can: like innovation, creativity, or building relationships. And this automation adds up to a significant amount of time saved: according to their study, with currently available technology,
“for the majority of US jobs, a day and a half’s worth of activities in each work week can be automated.”
Have a read of the article, and then think about what you do in an average week. Could any of it be automated, or made more efficient with technology or software?