How can I better interact with people
It has long been a matter of course in the data center that tape robots support backup management. The virtualization of the IT infrastructure has also significantly reduced the wear and tear on system administrators' shoes. Companies in IT nevertheless waste highly qualified human resources on the routine processing of frequently recurring, uniform activities. Typical examples are the configuration of workstations, the import of updates or the assignment of access authorizations. With advancing digitization, these tasks are increasingly being assigned to machines. In addition to the AI technologies already mentioned, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) plays a central role.
New human-machine interaction
AI and RPA have the potential to redefine human-machine interaction. Various scenarios are conceivable: Sometimes people design and program systems that then develop themselves further, sometimes they monitor the systems, are monitored by them or work with them to varying degrees.
Such implications are already visible today in various IT work areas: In digital analytics in combination with ML, for example, IT security systems have long been responsible for examining the occurrence of viruses around the world in order to be able to identify and combat newly emerging malware more quickly. The software is not only faster but also more error-free than human experts. This is essential because, on the other hand, the hackers also use AI elements to "optimize" their attacks.
More and more often, the security and other IT systems are also relieving the IT staff in the user companies of tasks, such as the assignment of new passwords or the creation of company-wide valid user IDs. The revolutionary character of the new solutions lies primarily in their simplicity. Where until now, for example, expensive new special solutions were required to automate the identity management processes, now comparatively simple and inexpensive software robots can operate the existing systems just like a human. In the area of service desk automation, chatbots can answer frequently asked user questions and thus relieve the support. Other software robots take over automated processes in the background, which also occur in system administration and development: These include the issuing of tickets, classifying malfunctions and typing bugs, prioritizing tasks or even fixing simple errors.
The opportunities offered by these developments in IT are similar to those in other areas of the company:
The shortage of skilled workers is a major problem in IT areas in particular - if certain activities can be handled by automated systems, the (few) skilled workers can concentrate on more important tasks.
Uniform activities are not intellectually demanding for well-trained staff and are correspondingly underestimated. At the same time, however, they require a great deal of attention - for example when testing newly developed applications. Here machines work faster and safer than people. This allows the human employee to concentrate on demanding, complex tasks.
Some provision processes can only be meaningfully implemented automatically, for example when marketing short-lived products in the finance and insurance sector. The efficiency benefits for companies can be significant.
In addition, a "digital worker" automatically documents every work step. This fulfills the compliance requirement of traceability, which is mandatory in many areas, without any additional effort.
Due to the generally higher availability - 7 times 24 hours a week - and the sometimes higher working speed, the performance of a software robot is comparable to up to four full-time capacities.
More attractive jobs
The particular charm of the new technologies from the point of view of the IT department lies in the fact that their own employees benefit above all. For example when testing software developments. Here human testers are in a dilemma: If they find errors, they quickly stand there as a brake. If you do not find any errors, your work performance will not be seen. In agile projects, developers often take on test tasks in which they have to check the work of others instead of developing them themselves. More demanding tasks make the work more exciting and attractive. And that is exactly the most important argument in Germany and Europe in the competition for the next generation of skilled workers.
Governance in demand
The biggest challenge in building and expanding a "digital workforce" is not technology, but governance. Large banks, telcos and industrial companies already process hundreds of processes in the office fully automatically. It has been shown that the use of AI and robotics outside of IT is possible without the involvement of the IT department, but is usually not successful. Because like any IT system, AI applications and RPA also need clearly defined processes. The following points in particular have proven to be important elements of a successful introduction of digital systems:
1. Involve the employee representatives in the planning
2. Employees must be trained in how to use digital systems - competencies for people and machines (MMI) are becoming more and more important.
3. Managers need to learn to decide how to divide tasks between human workers and robots. To do this, they need to know which tasks the people and which activities the robots are best at and how coordination and interaction can work.
4. The "rights and duties" of robots must also be regulated. It must be clearly defined which applications the "digital colleagues" use, which data they access and where they report errors.
IT is responsible
As self-evident as these specifications may seem at first glance, implementation in practice is proving to be difficult. In discussions in this regard, fears and threats are often more in the foreground than real opportunities, necessary requirements and clear rules. The IT department is called upon to lead by example. From a societal perspective, it is now a matter of accepting the new possibilities and implementing them as quickly as possible. Then automation and AI can also support the in-sourcing of processes, for example: IT ensures higher added value as well as more flexibility and speed of innovation in Germany. Appropriate skills are required - for the (further) development of digital systems, their use in the company and their application.
- 5 theses on the changed world of work
Rahild Neuburger, economist at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich and managing director of the Münchner Kreis Association, has developed five theses on the changing world of work. In doing so, she juxtaposes the developments and shows connections.
- (1) Work shifts
Work processes are increasingly shifting to the information and data room. At the same time, there will be an increasing need for direct communication in the physical environment, especially in the social area and in service.
- (2) The world of work and life grow together.
The more work processes are relocated to the information and data space, the more difficult the separation between work and living environment becomes. In particular, through the use of mobile devices, work is increasingly person-oriented and less location-oriented, so that it grows together with non-work life. At the same time, with the help of digital media, privately required organizational activities can be carried out even more easily during working hours.
- (3) Work is becoming increasingly flexible but also externally controlled
Depending on the field of activity, we will largely observe self-controlled, flexible workplaces alongside externally controlled workplaces. Examples of self-organized, flexible workplaces are employees, freelancers or crowd workers who can and are allowed to carry out their task processes independently and in a result-oriented manner; Examples of externally controlled workplaces are work processes controlled by algorithms (such as with Uber or other platforms), work processes controlled by digital tools (such as the electronic leash scenario) or automated team configuration.
- (4) We program machines and are replaced by them
Human-machine interaction will change. The spectrum ranges from scenarios that humans design and program the (self-learning) systems, that they monitor a “fire-fighting activity”, that they are monitored by them, that they work more closely or loosely with them or that human work replaced by AI and robots.
- (5) Work is becoming more individual and at the same time more networked
On the one hand, work is becoming increasingly individual - especially against the background of trends such as crowd working, an increasing number of freelancers etc .; on the other hand, global networking and collaboration in teams - both location-based as well as agile or virtual - will increase.
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