From The Terminator to Ex Machina, Hollywood has a long history of portraying robots and artificial intelligence as an evil cohort with little regard for human life. But what is more alarming than a robot trying to eliminate the human race? How about one trying to take your job?
In many places, the future of work is visually represented by robots, and we’re bombarded by headlines claiming it’s only a matter of time before robots take away our livelihoods. Can you imagine robots as your new office workers? Hosting conference calls, grabbing coffee and working on projects with machines programmed to do your job?
Is this really the future of work? We don’t think so.
For people in the workforce, automation is the anxiety-inducing buzzword of our time. And robots are the go-to trope for this anxiety. A Pew Research Center survey found that 72% of Americans are worried about a future in which intelligent machines do much of the work currently done by humans.
So, what’s the reality? While research suggests that automation will impact some roles and industries more than others, it doesn’t support a scary vision of the workplace in which real jobs, with real people, no longer exist. Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends survey, for example, predicts tremendous future demand for uniquely human abilities like complex problem-solving, cognition and social skills.
At ServiceNow, we believe in making work, work better for people. Technology-driven automation and innovation is about evolving how everyone works, improving the way work gets done. We think that’s a change for the better.
And the robot workforce of the future? Get real. Let’s flip that dystopian view of automation on its head. Check out how absurd this vision seems when 40 robots went to work recently in San Francisco.
The future of work will still be human — only better.
In ServiceNow’s 2018 survey, The Quest for Meaningful Work, 72 percent of employees polled in highly automated companies say automated processes increase time for creativity, and 77 percent of employees say automated processes help them do their job better.
We believe those kinds of experiences are the future of work. We see technology enabling us to focus more time on work that matters most. But we know that’s not reality today in most companies. For most of us, workdays are filled with monotonous, repetitive, tedious tasks. Manual processes. Systems that don’t talk to each other. This status quo robs us of more meaningful work, work that creates more value, gives us better work experiences and unlocks our productivity. In fact, most employees say they would forego a pay raise to do more meaningful work.
Over the past decade, technology has transformed our personal lives, making every day experiences simple, easy and intuitive. Why can’t technology make our work lives as easy as our personal lives? It can, by companies embracing digital workflows, machine learning, AI and other technologies that make work, work better.
Around the world, we see this happening today. Companies embracing digital workflows and digital transformation understand that delivering great experiences and unlocking productivity is the future of work, a future filled with engaged employees, not robots.
Using ServiceNow technology, for example, United Airlines built an app that allows flight attendants to easily report issues real time through a voice-activated interface, replacing a manual process that flight attendants often didn’t have time for. The result is a better experience for flight attendants — and for United’s customers.
Across industries, we see organizations automating clunky, manual processes to improve the employee experience and enable more meaningful work. For example, insurance provider Asurion used ServiceNow to replace manual, siloed onboarding processes with a one-stop-shop portal for new employees. Complex processes made simple, creating a better experience.
Imagine technology making our work life as simple and easy as it’s made our personal life. When we let technology manage the complexity of work, we can focus our time on creating more value at work. That’s technology in the service of people. That’s the future of work.