Automation set to be vital part of new economy

In the fourth industrial revolution, the quality of a business' results will depend on the quality of automation technology that is being used to help manage the business and strengthen its impact on the company, market and environment ("Dealing with AI and job displacement"; Monday).

Automation technology includes artificial intelligence (AI), infocommunication technology, robots and drones.

Research conducted by Gartner shows that by 2018, 45 per cent of the fastest-growing companies will have more smart machines than employees, and more than three million workers globally will be supervised by a "robo-boss".

It is hard to predict the impact of automation, but what is certain is that it will change our socio-economic landscape in a profound and sustainable way.

Automation will change not just the workplace, but also the roles of workers.

It will become a vital and integral part of workers, freeing them from "boring" work so they can improve their value creation and productivity, and become better problem solvers and solution providers.

Therefore, we would do well to embrace and stay abreast of the impact of automation, and learn to work with it and leverage it to better our lifestyles and livelihoods.

We need to look at what automation cannot do or cannot do as well, so that we can fill these gaps to help us add value to our work and contributions.

In this regard, we need to leverage four major intelligences: moral intelligence, creative and innovative intelligence, intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence, and intelligence for leveraging technology.

We need to continue to develop critical and abstract thinking, creativity and innovation, deep analysis, compassion, empathy and interpersonal relationships.

For example, while automation technology, including AI, can help us to generate information, we still need to learn how to make sense of the volume, variety and velocity of information generated and apply them wisely.

Enterprises can provide outstanding customer service by integrating the best of automation technology and heart-felt services that humans can provide.

The "high tech and high touch" combination and synergy can position these enterprises to stay ahead of the change and competition curves.

In short, automation technology is part and parcel of the new economy.

Organisations and individuals that do not start automating their work and operations will eventually join the dinosaurs of the past.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2016, with the headline 'Automation set to be vital part of new economy'. Print Edition | Subscribe