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CEOs wrong on smart machines replacing jobs - Gartner

14 October 2013, 13:14 Duncan Alfreds

Cape Town - The majority of CEOs do not believe that smart devices will replace jobs, according to a survey on the industry.

According to a Gartner CEO survey, 60% of chief executives believe that smart machines capable of absorbing millions of middle-class jobs within 15 years is a "futurist fantasy".

This view does not seem to gel with research into the potential impact of smart devices, the research firm said at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo.

"Most business and thought leaders underestimate the potential of smart machines to take over millions of middle-class jobs in the coming decades," said Kenneth Brant, research director at Gartner.

"Job destruction will happen at a faster pace, with machine-driven job elimination overwhelming the market's ability to create valuable new ones," he added.

Disruptive reality

According to Gartner's Maverick research, company executives have to adapt to the disruptive reality of smart machines that may make employees redundant.

"The bottom line is that many CEOs are missing what could quickly develop to be the most significant technology shift of this decade," said Brant.

Technology has emerged as a key enabler and differentiator in the banking sector and First national Bank has charged ahead with the expansion of mobile technology applications on smart devices.

"I do think all banks are very rich in technology: Technology drives every transaction; every deposit, so it's got to be a core skill. In fact it's the thing in the bank that scales the most, but we have tried to go beyond that as a key differentiator in how we can make the lives of our customers easier," FNB CEO Michael Jordaan told News24.

Potentially, the expansion of technology could see the reduction of the number of physical branches, or the services offered at branches.

"I don't think the branch will die in its entirety, however the composition of what a branch is, is definitely going to migrate to more self service capability," said Lee-Anne van Zyl, FNB Online Banking CEO.

Mass production

In the Industrial Age, automation and mass production resulted in the loss of many jobs; during the period of globalisation many jobs are moving to countries where labour laws allow for the cheap manufacture of consumer goods.

Gartner said that smart machines and systems will drive a loss of employment and a workforce becomes increasingly "digital".

"In fact, even today, there is already a multifaceted marketplace for engineering a 'digital workforce', backed by major players on both the supply and demand side.

"This marketplace comprises intelligent agents, virtual reality assistants, expert systems and embedded software to make traditional machines 'smart' in a very specialised way, plus a new generation of low-cost and easy-to-train robots and purpose-built automated machines that could significantly devalue and/or displace millions of humans in the workforce," said Brant.

- News24


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