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Press Review: Man and Machine: Working in the Age of the Robot

The Harvard Business Review recently published a special about knowlege workers in the age of the algorithm. Here you'll find a summary of the most interesting articles.

Inreasing digitalization and robots that can do more and more complex tasks lead to many asking themselves how work will look like in the age of the algorithm. Robotic Process Automation, the automation of business processes, is a term that is ever more present in these discussions. 

Man-Machine Collaboration

The recurrent theme in the Harvard Business Review articles is the collaboration between man and machine. The fear of automation is often the fear of being replaced. The following articles show that instead of talking about replacing someone, we should talk about augmentation: the combination of human intellectual work and automated processes leads to additional value that cannot be achieved by one of these elements alone.

The very interesting article What Knowledge Workers Stand to Gain from Automation specifically mentions Robotic Process Automation. Knowledge workers often have to complete monotone tasks instead of concentrating on value adding tasks. Here RPA can serve as support, not as replacement for knowledge workers and give them the breathing space for their actual tasks.

Technology Doesn't Always Beat Labor argues in the same vein: The focus should be put on technologies that assist humans instead of replacing them.

In Beyond Automationyou'll get a good overview about why we should stop thinking about automation and start thinking about augmentation. Not: How can a machine replace this worker? and instead: What can worker and machine accomplish together?

Automation Won't Replace People as Your Competitive Advantage also includes the collaboration of man and technology. New technologies, the article argues, spread quickly and therefore can easily be adapted by the competition. The resources of your human employees on the other hand can't be copied easily.

The Great Decoupling: An Interview with Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. The authors of The Second Machine Age - Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies explain, how machines change the way we work. They say that there are some jobs that will disappear in the future. However, that process isn't new: every new technology also cost jobs. But every time new jobs and professions were created. They also emphasize that it is important to think about how we can best combine man and machine.

The interplay of automation of processes and employees to get the best possible outcome is something that ALMATO engages in. We do more than just automation, we advise you on how to optimize your processes. With Real Time Interaction Management we have already proven our capability to support employees through partial automation.

Find Out More About Automation

Sara Gebhardt      9. October 2015


Sara Gebhardt

Sara Gebhardt

Sara started working as Marketing Manager at ALMATO in 2015.

She has a M.A. in International Cultural and Business Studies. As part of a Double Degree Programme she spent a year in Scotland and wrote her thesis on What Would Bond Buy? An Investigation Into Young Consumers' Attitudes Towards Product Placement in Films.

After her studies, she moved to Belgium and worked for a software company as Business Developer for Germany and Spain, before moving back to her beautiful home city of Stuttgart. In her free time, she reads obsessively across all genres.