How Technology is Displacing Low-End Jobs

It all started way back in 1913, when Henry Ford installed the first moving assembly line in order to mass-produce entire automobiles in under 3 hours- a giant leap from the 12 hours it took to assemble a single car prior to Ford's innovation. Since then, technological advances have allowed the production, distribution, and installation of a number of goods and services to become automated, saving enterprise leaders valuable time and money, and giving them the ability to do in minutes what used to take all day.

The automation of tasks is everywhere you look, from doctors' offices to the DMV; from investment firms to hair salons. Thanks to ever-evolving technology, we are now able to do more in the workplace in a single minute than we used to be able to do in weeks. The key to our sped-up ability to produce, matched by a constantly accelerating ability to consume, is the technology that has made simple tasks nearly 100 percent reliant on machines. What was once a person's job is now something that can be handled by a computer. Artificial intelligence, deep machine learning, and NLP, or natural language processing, have moved out of the science fiction arena into our everyday lives, in a big way.

Receptionists are an excellent example of this, too: An iPad receptionist can replace the job performed by a costly employee. With a visitor management system handling your visitor check-ins via an app, expensive human capital can be used elsewhere.

Though it's true that the use of technology to handle simple, low-end jobs means that fewer people need to be hired to complete these tasks manually, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It is actually good news for small business owners in particular, who otherwise would not have been able to hire the staff they would have needed to make their companies run. For instance, a single individual can now own and operate a business from his or her laptop computer, relying on business intelligence or CRM software to help with the gathering, analyzing and storage of important consumer data. Thanks to the many capabilities of his or her computer and smartphone, as well as the variety of startup software companies creating useful apps to assist with low-end tasks, he or she can outsource services like answering phones, scheduling appointments on a calendar, and even sending emails and other marketing materials to prospective clients.

The use of technology is not only displacing low-end jobs in the business sector, but also in other industries including healthcare, finance, retail, and hospitality. Once upon a time, you'd have to call a restaurant or hotel to make a reservation. These days, thanks to a check-in app for your smartphone, you no longer need to speak with someone to help you reserve your spot. Similarly, you can now shop for just about anything you want online, purchase it, and have it shipped to you at the touch of a button. A series of tasks that would have once been handled by a sales clerk are now automatically processed via the app or website you're visiting. The rise of technology in business is adding a great deal of value for consumers, thanks to the ease and convenience it allows.

Even in the real world, the use of technology simplifies basic transactions, eliminating the need for more personnel to handle the workload. The advent of the ATM initially had bank tellers nervous about the security of their jobs; of course, we still have tellers available at bank branches to help with complex transactions, or to assist people who prefer the element of human interaction when banking. However, more and more people are using online banking services to make deposits, transfer funds, and pay bills than ever before. No longer is it necessary to wait in line for the whole of your lunch hour to deposit your paycheck. Thanks to technology, it's all done for you via the magic of direct deposit.

We could list the countless everyday examples of how technology is displacing low-end jobs, but it's easier to say what can't be accomplished by the use of machines: the human touch. No matter how sophisticated our technology gets, or how many tasks it's able to help us complete with little to no effort on our part, being able to speak with an actual person, either face-to-face or over the phone, will never go out of style. We still rely on human representatives to provide us with the specific information we need about a particular product or service we're interested in, and we feel comfortable and at ease with real-life representatives helping us choose the solutions that make the most sense for us. While machines can do a lot for us in the workplace, we'll never stop needing the human component that makes the business work!

As our technology becomes more and more advanced, we're sure to see low-end processes get automated to the point where human involvement in these rote, repetitive tasks becomes virtually obsolete. While this can seem frightening at first, it's important to remember that just because machines are taking over the basic jobs that help run a company, that doesn't mean we won't still need human workers to oversee operations. In fact, the automation of a process can actually be an advantage for an employee who has had to complete it manually for years on end, and can now have free time to do something more challenging within the framework of the routine. This can be a game-changer for those who wish to expand their roles within a company and take on more interesting challenges or try for promotions.

Technology allows us to make something easy when it wasn't before. The advancement of technology to complete low-end tasks gives us the freedom to explore beyond our boundaries, try new strategies, and ultimately succeed in business with just a fraction the time or expense it used to take. When we use machines to help us tackle the things that take a lot of time but require little to no thought, we can better utilize our skills and brainpower to go beyond the status quo. By understanding the role that technology currently plays in our workplace, we can be prepared for the exciting ways we will be able to harness it to achieve our business goals in the future.