As businesses emerge from the pandemic, automation technologies will replace humans in certain jobs, leaving organizations to move employees higher up the value chain in more critical roles, said panellists in a Mint Pivot or Perish discussion on the technology and automation sector on Thursday.
While certain human jobs will be taken up by artificial intelligence-driven automation systems, technologies will by and large become a key enabler, often acting as a force multiplier, for enterprises as they look to improve efficiencies and conserve capital in the post-pandemic world.
“I believe technology will always end up creating more jobs," said Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice-president and chief strategy officer, Nasscom. According to Gupta, while some of the more repetitive jobs are being automated, this allows people to “move up the value chain". “The new blended work model will create opportunities for a lot of people who otherwise would not work even though they had the skills or could have upskilled themselves," she added.
“The impact on jobs is more due to other factors than technology or automation," said Kamal Singhani, managing partner, global business services, IBM India. “The question is what the workplace will look like and what their workforce will do there." A recent study by Nasscom found a shift from cost-efficiency to supply chain security, and employee health and safety are key drivers of the increased need for automation.
Employees who want to fit in the future world of work will need to upskill themselves to work alongside machines and algorithms. “You are living in an age where the pace of change will accelerate. The first response to that would be—as businesses and as employees—one has to adopt a mindset of continuously evolving, adapting and learning new things," said Prakash Mallya, vice-president and managing director, sales, marketing and communications, Intel India.
Mallya said the increase in automation will complement what human beings are able to do. “At a skill level, human beings shouldn’t continue doing what they already have (done). Because when automation increases, the skill level and capability levels for human beings to be able to play the complementary role will also be stepped up."
“In this country, where software is abundant, you can use automation to reshape the ecosystem," said Intel’s Mallya. Automation, he added, will help businesses here, which serve global Fortune 1000 firms, hire talent from anywhere and utilize its rich software talent to help with their digital transformation.
“The pandemic has given companies the opportunity to be more efficient. If they were running 3,000 SKUs (stock keeping units) before and have moved to 300 and they are saving money on it, do they want to go back to the previous situation? Will the pandemic create more joblessness? Not really. It has helped businesses innovate," said Dulles Krishnan, area vice-president at cloud-based software company Salesforce.