Robots, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other cognitive technologies will replace about 7 percent of U.S. jobs by 2025 with office and administrative staff taking the biggest hit, according to a Forrester Research forecast.
The bad news is jobs will be lost. The good news is that new gigs will be created as cognitive technology takes hold. One reason the disruption won't be larger or happen sooner is that companies aren't ready for the change related to the new automated workforce, said Forrester.
Among the key items:
In a report, Forrester quoted a director of enterprise architecture at banking giant UBS as saying:
In our bank, we already have back-end systems that make decisions and automate 90% of a transaction. The 10% on the margin is what's left. Next will be employees who deal with clients.
However, Forrester's report had an optimistic tone. Customers will need human advice more than ever, people can provide nuance better than machines, and displacement and transformation will happen at the same time.
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Nevertheless, sales jobs will take a hit from customer self service after office and admin staff falls away. Professional roles like doctors and scientists will go away more slowly. Management, business and financial jobs will be most resistant to the robots. One banker did note that robots and automation will close the books at the end of quarter and fiscal year instead of the 2,000 humans today.
In any case, Forrester's report is worth pondering for business tech leaders. The kicker:
The cultural backlash will be real and powerful, but it won't roll automation back. Labor conflict over automation will escalate as millions of today's employees, short of digital-age skills, slide into the obsolescence queue. Thus, enterprises should maintain an active communication strategy, both internally (for workers) and externally (for public relations) to proactively explain and defend automation efforts. This story is easier to tell when you aren't merely displacing jobs but rather creating new value for customers by having robots work side by side with your employees.
Forrester said that enterprises should do the following: