by Richard Milam, the Founder and CEO of EnableSoft Incorporated
Technology is changing the future of work and the workforce. We have entered in an industrial revolution of the digital age, and just as machines took over the heavy duty human labor in manufacturing plants, computerization and digital technologies are now efficiently performing the manual data- and business-related workload of humans. A common fear that, perhaps, resides in the minds of every worker is that these automation tools are taking over people’s jobs. Despite the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’s prediction that most occupations are projected to grow in the number of jobs by the year 2024, some individuals still anticipate an onrushing wave of unemployment.
However, what a more likely estimate is that humans will work alongside these digital technologies in what is called the “human in the loop” element, such that humans teach software to perform their structured, ritual tasks, and easily monitor and configure the machines when needed as a result of changes in the market, business model, and other economic and business needs.
The Age of Information.
Because today’s organizations and institutions house and accumulate an overwhelming amount of data—including customer information, product developments, payment and payroll processing—automation becomes necessary to manage diverse, heterogeneous data and maintain data integrity and structure. Humans will no longer be needed to perform data entry, update data systems, manually integrate applications, perform lengthy customer transactions, or other business processes that are repetitive in nature, time consuming, and inefficient. Robotic Process Automation will be implemented in every business model and workflow throughout the nation in order for a business to perform successfully in today’s fast-paced, consumer-oriented, digital economy.
As business processes become exceedingly efficient and resourceful, via automation, business relations become exceedingly engaging, personalized, and interactive in order to support the rising demands of consumers. Work roles will change as companies become more efficient and productive, and as a result, more profitable. More human employees will be required to not only configure and manage the automation technologies, create and develop new products and services, but also to perform front-facing, customer service roles. For example, customer service representatives and receptionists have an expected job growth potential of 9.8 percent and 9.5 percent, by the year 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Similarly, the increased need for IT professionals is demonstrated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’s 20.9 percent increase in the number of thousands of computer systems analysts jobs anticipated by the year 2024.
What is the “human in the loop” factor?
Optimizing on the efficiency of digital automation processes requires human intellect and knowledge of the preliminary data, the process, and the end-result in order to train the software not only to perform actions, but to perform them in the most organized and effective method. The “human in the loop” is a modern and sustainable approach to automating workflows and organizational workload as human experts are required to monitor, modify, and change processes when needed.
Subject matter experts are the central figures in the design and operation of technology because while machines excel at structured, rules-based tasks, they cannot flex from their routine or change based on external factors. Every individual in organizations and businesses are experts in some specialized knowledge—whether it be customer service, marketing, product development, or web management—everybody is an expert in their specific work role; thus, these subject matter experts are the best people to train the autonomous systems to perform their specific work functions. The workflow becomes a continuous “loop” where humans train the software and modify the processes when needed depending upon the goals of the business, the output required, and other economic and business-related changes. The efficient, automatic performance of business processes requires human involvement and intervention in order to achieve success.
Society has reached a pivotal moment where machine learning results in highly efficient automated processes enabling humans to acquire new work roles, different workloads, and engage in innovative thinking, creativity, and social skills. Businesses around the world are beginning to understand the changing nature of the workforce and capitalizing on the successful performance of automation technologies, as well as investing more in their human capital.
As industry leaders profit and expand from their robust business model, more goods and services can be provided quicker, and at reduced rates, making them more assessable to consumers. When technology and work transition to the “human in the loop” workflow, a simultaneous “economy in the loop” cycle will emerge as economic growth results. The distribution of work is changing as people work with technology in a loop; where intelligence meets automation to create a progressive future.
Richard Milam is the Founder and CEO of EnableSoft Incorporated (www.enablesoft.com). EnableSoft, is engaged in offering game changing software products and services to the business and financial services industry, healthcare and a dozen other markets. EnableSoft serves over 500 corporate clients worldwide. Prior to founding EnableSoft in 1995, Richard was a partner and served as Senior Vice President of FiTech PLUSmark, Inc.