One of the great changes we already encounter and will increasingly be facing, is the automation of work. We’re not just talking about a few more machines in the workplaces — it’s estimated that approximately one third of work positions will be replaced with technology in Finland within the next decade.

Yes, this sounds scary, but automation also provides new possibilities, and it isn’t limited to manual labour. Many jobs, including knowledge work, that used to demand huge amounts of time and effort can now be executed quickly by computers and machines.

Consider a lawyer sifting through documents, trying to gather crucial pieces of data: a project that might take days, even weeks. Thanks to automation, it can now be done in a blink of an eye. This is already being done, for example by Symantec’s Clearwell. Clearwell is said to be able to analyse and organize over 570 000 documents in just two days. Similar developments are happening in many other fields of work as you read this.

Then there’s Narrative Science, that uses artificial intelligence to write stories based on large sets on data. Or Conversica, which is a good example of the automation of sales: it’s a virtual assistant that engages in real conversations with your clients and finds you the best sales opportunities.

What’s the role of human during 4th industrial revolution and the automation of work? Graphic: 15/30

What are we trying to say here? Well, automation at its best will free us from repetitive and time-consuming work and lets us focus on creating something new. There are still qualities that machines or AI simply cannot imitate. Creative and artistic skills, empathy, and social intelligence, such as negotiation and persuasion skills, are still very human. The most valuable of attributes are changing.

So, what should you take into consideration when it comes to automation? Make sure that you utilise it correctly: avoid investing time or money frivolously on jobs which can be done more efficiently by machines and algorithms.

Make sure, however, that you don’t forget the benefits of the human as an employee. Creative and original thinking as well as social intelligence are vital, regardless of field, and the power of the human brain is irreplaceable.

At least for now.

This article is written by Miia Outinen, Markus Keränen and Murray Dick from 15/30 – a research company and transformation agency which predicts industry specific trends globally and helps its clients to create awesome business concepts. 15/30’s Trend Manuals provide valuable insight to businesses and guide them to future-proof growth. The Helsinki-based 15/30 shares their insights biweekly at ArcticStartup.

For more info about the automatization of work and other important work trends, take a look at 15/30 Research’s Trend Manuals or just quickly supercharge your knowledge with a Trend Map.

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