Robotics & Automation 2019

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R A C O N T E U R . N E T 11 On this basis, Bill Gates proposed a robot tax several years ago as a way of addressing our 21st-century Engels' pause. This way, govern - ments could fund other types of employment we desperately need from educators to social workers and slow down the upheaval caused by automation. The fact is global society isn't catching up quickly enough in shifting to high-paid, high-tech jobs. We aren't raising productivity in the UK or many other G20 countries either. In Dr Frey's The Technolog y Trap, he says there has always been a price to pay for each industrial revolution. Are we paying it now? Could a modern-day neo-Luddite revolution be articulating itself through populist movements in North America and Europe? It is hard to tell. "As automation comes into finance, retail, transportation and healthcare, we need a new social contract that provides retraining for those at risk of redundancy, new educational opportunities for those seeking to upgrade their job skills and a stronger social safety net for those falling between the cracks," says Brookings' Dr West. Yet this takes a lot of money. As certain jobs disappear, labour-frugal companies come to the fore, the high street moves into automated warehouses and tech - nology creates fewer well-paid jobs with untold wealth for a smaller slice of the population, is a shift in taxation the right answer? Could it put the brakes on the fourth indus- trial revolution? "Saying a robot tax would be a tax on innovation is like saying any corporate taxes are innovation taxes. For many reasons, compa- nies and individuals invest despite the existence of taxes," argues Professor Abbott. "The more ethical dilemma is how egalitarian a society we want to have. Income disparity is already a serious problem and automation is likely to make it worse unless we have a more progressive tax system. This is because automation is likely to reduce government tax revenue at the same time that it will require greater investments in worker retraining and social benefits." It doesn't help that around the world the tax burden on labour is increas - ing, while there's a trend towards decreasing corporate taxes to stimu- late domestic investment. This could exacerbate the problem. The case for a robot tax or one on the fruits of auto- mation may never be greater. This is an issue now for policymakers rather than technologists. "If governments gloss over the social costs of automation, their credibility will diminish. For a long time, governments chose to over- look the costs of globalisation and focus on the benefits," Dr Frey con- cludes in his book. "Governments must avoid making the same mis- take with automation. And the stakes could not be higher." PwC 2018 of jobs at potential risk of automation by mid-2030s of jobs at potential risk of automation by early-2020s of workers with low education at risk of automation by mid-2030s 3% 30% WORLDWIDE JOB S AT RISK OF AU TOMATION Based on the analysis of over 200,000 jobs in 29 countries 44% Commercial feature obotic process automa- tion (RPA) solutions are rap- idly growing into powerful tools that can eliminate repetitive and manual tasks, and enable employees to save time and focus more on creating value for the business. "In a rapidly changing workplace, business leaders are starting to rec - ognise that they need a fresh perspec- tive on automation and see it through the eyes of the people who work in the business," says Bob Weare, chief mar- keting officer at Softomotive, a leading RPA vendor. "A traditional, or so-called top-down, approach to RPA is no longer the full answer due to things like higher upfront costs, increased project risk, lack of innovation and low people engagement that comes from centralisation. With so many stalled RPA projects out there, it's time to take a different approach to engage the workforce and maximise business outcomes." Process automation: It's about time Emerging automation technologies that promise to both simplify and streamline work processes are increasingly becoming a reality for businesses in virtually all industries Softomotive has pioneered its "People 1st " approach for RPA that effectively democratises RPA, putting power in the hands of the end-users so they can automate manual and repetitive tasks. "By beginning with relatively small tasks and scaling up after learning what works best for the business, auto - mation processes can be acceler- ated," says Mr Weare. "The bottom-up 'People 1st ' approach creates citizen developers who can be equipped to automate tasks as and when they want, within pre-set boundaries. "This obviously demands close col - laboration between business users and the IT department, which can address the shortage of developers and open up automation to end-us- ers who don't have programming skills or experience." Softomotive's recent People 1st Employee Study 2019 of more than 1,200 employees in the United States, UK and India provided some unique insights into the value to businesses of engaging employees throughout auto- mation processes. The study reveals that 37 per cent of employees' time in a normal working week is spent on tasks that don't con- tribute significant value to the busi- ness. This finding clearly illustrates the amount of employees' time which can be saved through the adoption of RPA technologies and the importance of pri- oritising RPA for firms that want employ- ees to create more business value. It's clear that employees want to be more than just passive observers when it comes to RPA. Softomotive's research reveals that 77 per cent want at least a little input into decisions about how and where RPA should be leveraged. Such findings should be seen in the context of the difficulties facing many companies in finding talented computer programmers. According to Code.org, while there were fewer than 30,000 computer science grad - uates in 2017, there were more than 500,000 open computing jobs in the United States. When it comes to automation, Softomotive believes in providing the smoothest RPA journey by making it easy for enterprises to start small, learn quickly and scale seamlessly. Its RPA technology includes WinAutomation desktop software and ProcessRobot server-based enterprise automation. This choice of automation solutions allows businesses to implement auto - mation technologies that fit their busi- ness requirements and ambitions. Collaboration tools for employ- ees, where they can upload automa- tion solutions that they have created, means agile practices can be more easily adopted and innovation can be quickly shared across the business, enabling organisations to gain the full benefits of RPA. Mr Weare concludes: "By combin- ing a 'People 1st ' approach with our intuitive and easy-to-use software, companies can futureproof their deployment of RPA. As our solutions are priced to scale, businesses can expand on a fully enterprise basis, in a cost-effective way." For more information please visit www.softomotive.com of employees want at least a little input into decisions about RPA of employees' time is spent on tasks that don't contribute value 77 % 37 % R

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