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Rewind: The best of IN:SIGHT

Last year saw the continued rise of digital technology, social interaction and mobility. Heading into the New Year, we celebrate the disrupters, brilliant thinkers and advisors, who have inspired the way we’ve worked over the last 12 months.

 

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2 min

Could a robot do your job?

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Could a robot do your job?

There’s a 50/50 chance, apparently.

Researchers at the University of Oxford have found that 47% of jobs in the US are at high risk of being automated out of existence. [1]

More worrying still, the report identified just three skill areas that could save you from the robot economy:

occupations that involve complex perception and manipulation tasks, creative intelligence tasks, and social intelligence tasks are unlikely to be substituted by computer capital over the next decade or two.

Low-skilled work, such as food service and retail, is still reliant on face-to-face interaction, while high-skilled work is often too nuanced or creative to be hard-wired.

It’s middle-skilled work, like management and administration, that is currently taking the hit.

Meet your new manager: An algorithm.

 

This decade has seen many new start-ups automating what was once pure human services. Taxi company Uber employs armies of drivers that are briefed, managed, tracked, paid and even fired by automated algorithms. Creative work is becoming vulnerable, too, with companies like CrowdSpring using algorithms to manage graphic designers and writers.

“What’s bizarre here is that these lines of code directly control real humans,” warns Peter Reinhardt, co-founder and CEO of data and analytics firm Segment. “Humans are on the verge of becoming literal cogs in a machine, completely anonymized behind an API. And the companies that control those APIs have strong incentives to drive down the cost of executing those API methods.” [2]

The danger here is that algorithmic management not only destroys middle-skill jobs, but could remove on-the-job training, social connections and upward career mobility for the remaining majority of us.

Or is this just a doomsday scenario?

 

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Mastering the robot economy: Use your head,

MIT economist David Autor admits that jobs will always be “destroyed” by technological change. However, he has found that, on average, this has not reduced unemployment levels or lowered earnings. It has done the opposite.

On average we’ve seen raised productivity, which has led to more mentally-stimulating, better paid and less dangerous jobs. [3]

“The three highly-robotized economies of the world – Germany, Japan and South Korea – have the lowest unemployment levels,” adds Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO of the Swiss automation firm ABB. “The right combination between robots and humans safeguards jobs and safeguards humans.” [4]

We may not be losing our jobs, just adapting them.

If handled appropriately, robot could unleash creativity and innovation in our economy like never before. It’s up to us to nurture the social, creative and ethical prowess our companies will need to thrive alongside them.

 

Sources:

  1. Frey, Carl Benedikt and Osborne, Michael A. The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs To Computerisation? University of Oxford, [http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf] September 17, 2013.
  2. Reinhardt, Peter, Replacing Middle Management with APIs, Weblog, [http://rein.pk/replacing-middle-management-with-apis] February, 2015.
  3. Corbyn, Zoë, Robots are leaving the factory floor and heading for your desk and your job, The Guardian, [http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/09/robots-manual-jobs-now-people-skills-take-over-your-job], February 9, 2015.
  4. Ranasinghe, Dhara, Why you shouldnt fear the robot revolution yet, CNBC, [http://www.cnbc.com/id/102587913], April 16, 2015.
 

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2 min

The Awesome APIs Underpinning Digital Transformation

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The awesome APIs underpinning digital transformation

APIs, or application programming interfaces, create the connections that power digital transformation. Discover how to harness that power.

Success is built on your capacity to connect seamlessly with clients, employees and suppliers, which is why APIs are at the centre of change and progress in the digital age.

Application Programming Interfaces – or APIs, are essentially small pieces of software which enable computing systems to “talk to”, each other, making it possible for organisations to constantly find new and innovative ways to secure supply, deliver services, and connect with customers.

After more than two decades at the forefront of technological innovation, Telstra API evangelist Frank Arrigo explains what you need to know about APIs and what they will mean for your industry.

APIs are about connecting peoples, partners, businesses with information – big time.
– Frank Arrigo

Kick-start your digital business transformation with Telstra Applications.

Transcript

I’m Frank Arrigo and I’m the API Evangelist at Telstra. An API is an Application Programming Interface, and at the basic level an API is how software talks to software.

So where will APIs take the business? Look I think it really is the heart of digital transformation. What APIs allow you do is they set up this gearbox in between allowing you to run a system of innovation that provides access to information without actually changing it, but in a secure way. From this you can start creating new products, new experiences, a better customer way of interacting.

Another example you might know if you have kids at school, you know if your child is late you may get an SMS to say your child has arrived late. What’s actually happening is the school is running a roster – a classroom management system.

An API allows you to get access to information and services from an organisation. And what that allows is it sets this information free for partners and other organisations that the business works with, to share and interact and collaborate and transact.

Think about when you get an SMS on your boarding pass to say you’ve got to board, that SMS has been sent by the carrier, most likely using an API. Retailers could use that data to send offers to clients and it could get even smarter because, with location information, they could know who is around, and there could be beacons in the store where they could be sharing material.

APIs are about connecting people, partners, businesses with information, big time. It’s really that glue, it’s that plumbing that you take plumbing for granted right – you flush it works, it’s all good, APIs are the same. Press that button, you want to make that transaction it’s all good, it all works, API’s will make it work for you.

 

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3 min

Live to 100, work to 80, and don’t get replaced by a robot

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Live to 100, work to 80, and don’t get replaced by a robot

Psychologist and business theorist Lynda Gratton says we’ll probably all live to 100 – and that will change everything.

Lynda Gratton was standing on a hillside in Tanzania listening to a Masai warrior chat on a mobile phone with his brother about their goat herd, when she was suddenly hit by the paradox that no matter how much we change thanks to technology, our core needs and desires as human beings stay the same.

“I suddenly realised I have no idea what is going to happen in the future,” Gratton told several hundred business leaders at the World Business Forum in Sydney recently. “So I began to research how to prepare for this unknown future, starting with the most basic question of all: How long are we going to live? And are we prepared to live that long?”

As Professor of Management Practice at London Business School and founder of consultants the Hot Spots Movement, Gratton is universally regarded for the insights her books and research have provided into organisational behaviour and management. Her most recent research focuses on the organisational, personal and social challenges of a population in which many of us will live beyond 100, and the changes this will mean for our professional lives.

The result is five insights into how to prepare for this shift, and the professional ramifications it will have for us all.

 

1 – Plan to live to 100, and work to 80

“Long lives will give us a huge opportunity to do wonderful things, but we can’t plan to retire at 65,” says Gratton. “Right now everything is crammed up together, we’re trying to have kids, and get a great career, and create a home all at once, and we won’t need to do that anymore.”

According to Gratton, professionals in all sectors of the economy need to stop thinking of their careers as a linear progression built around a single skill set. Using personas created to reflect different generations and projected longevity, she suggests generation X and Y, now in middle age, should be prepared to recreate their careers, take breaks to retrain, and work through to their 70s, even their 80s.

 

2 – Intangible assets are crucial

“We used to assume that the assets which enabled you to be productive were around your training, skill set and capabilities,” says Gratton. “This is no longer the case. Intangible assets such as your vitality, your friends and family are far more important in terms of predicting long-term success.”

Gratton suggests that the best way to prepare for a longer working lives is to shift our focus away from tangible assets such as property and measurable assets such as skills, and onto aspects of our personality, relationships and outlook that will enable us to be more productive for longer. She predicts that in the future, health and wellbeing, long-term friendships and a positive outlook will ultimately become more important than education levels and physical assets.

 

3 – Prepare for transformation

“If you’re going to have a long life, and a long career, the idea of three consecutive stages – study, work, retirement – just won’t work anymore, Gratton says. “You need the capacity to constantly transform yourself, because what you study at the beginning of your working life just won’t be relevant 40 years later. We’re going to see people taking a break in the middle of their working lives to retrain and to explore different options.”

Not only do individuals need to be prepared to change, but organisations and governments need to move away from expecting everyone to live through the same life stages at the same time, because where, when and how we study, enter the workforce, leave work and retrain will change constantly.

 

4 – Think hard about skills (don’t get replaced by a robot)

“In the same way that mechanisation replaced routine physical activity in the 20th century, artificial intelligence will replace routine cognitive activity in the 21st century,” says Gratton. “Manual non-routine jobs, like plumbing, continue to be performed by humans, and similarly at the high-end – routine analytical roles will be completed by machines; the jobs that are going to stay are analytical but non-routine.”

Gratton predicts the expansion of artificial intelligence will have a big impact across the professional services sector, creating diagnostic and analytical support tools for decision-making. However, she says, humans will always be needed for non-routine roles.

 

5 – Work-life balance is the key to long-term success

“The only way to ensure people are productive throughout long working lives is to make sure they go to work feeling authentic, resilient and supported, and leave work feeling networked, inspired and knowledgeable,” Gratton says. “It’s no longer going to be good enough for people to work long hours to achieve short bursts of leisure; the actual way we do work needs to change so that people feel they have control over their lives.”

This means the relationship between organisations and employees will shift fundamentally, Gratton says, from one of command and control, akin to an adult-child relationship, to one of communication between equals, adult to adult.

Take on tomorrow today – ask your account executive about Telstra’s Future Ways of Working program.

 

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