The Future of Work: Software Robots

Software RobotIn earlier posts, here , here and here, we commented on the rise of the machines in our society and wondered whether automated jobs would create new and more challenging jobs for men. Automation is a one way street; there is no such thing as de-automation. That is usually a good thing because most automated processes are not processes we are very fond of carrying out. If it’s dirty, dangerous or dull, use a drone. Or, on the ground, use a robot.

But that is not where it stops. Infosys, a leading India based outsourcing vendor, is planning to automate automation in its day to day processes. As the world economy is still shaky, companies who have outsourced their IT to giants such as Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro continue to request more for less. In order to remain competitive and not to miss out on future projects Infosys just signed an agreement with IPsoft , a US based software vendor. IPsoft delivers “selflearning and self-healing systems to automate recurring manual IT tasks, substantially reduce human error and provide enhanced service levels”. In other words IPsoft is developing software robots to automate software.

At the METISfiles we can’t help but seeing similarities with Foxconn in China who is in the process of deploying over a million robots in order to counter rising salaries and hard to find skilled labour. So while the IT outsourcing and BPO industry in India has been flourishing over the last decade leading to almost three million jobs, it is now at a crossroads. The flipside of globalization is kicking in. Skilled employees are increasingly opting  for other sectors like finance over ICT Outsourcing and BPO causing a negative effect on the payroll of the outsourcing businesses: hence automation.

Technology is a great asset for global companies but at the same time the advantage can be very short lived. Technologies such as robotics, software automation and 3D printing can easily help swing the globalization pendulum back as they are typically not dependent on labour. This may not be such a bad thing after all. China and India will have to invest a lot more in their massive but under developed domestic market. Long live automation!

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About Marcel Warmerdam