• March 7, 2017

Humans + Machines: Preparing for an Automated Future

Career planning should consider the rise of automation.

Digital disruption. Automation technology. Artificial intelligence. Technological advances are both exciting and frightening as we edge closer and closer to an automated world. While new innovations and machines are driving much change in the enterprise, what kind of curves are to be expected in the career paths of humans? More so, with technology quickly dominating the workplace, what does the future hold for jobs?

According to a report by McKinsey & Company where 2,000 specific work activities were studied, 45 percent of these work activities could be automated by capabilities of current technology. The work activities in question are distributed among 800 occupations from retail workers to teachers to healthcare practitioners.

“Capabilities range from fine motor skills and navigating in the physical world, to sensing human emotion and producing natural language,” the report states. “If the technologies that process and ‘understand’ natural language were to reach the median level of human performance, an additional 13 percent of work activities in the U.S. economy could be automated.”

So while you may not be receiving a performance review from a machine just yet, how can you prepare your professional development plans to anticipate the rise of automation?


It’s inevitable that some jobs will become automated in the near future, but this shift will force professionals to create new jobs and opportunities. This doesn’t mean entrepreneurial skills won’t be of value within the enterprise. By redefining processes and innovating from within (a practice coined recently as intrapreneurship), the enterprise can turn the growth of digital technology into an advantage.

Stay Innovative and Agile

Operating at a low cost and scaling quickly will be critical in order to compete with machines. By utilizing lean innovation and staying flexible, professionals have the best chance of succeeding in tomorrow’s digitally enabled workforce. In fact, people who can best leverage automation will end up creating work that’s intelligent, interesting, and satisfying.

Focus on Creativity

With more technology in the enterprise, the future will require higher skills for entry-level positions. While education will be forced to raise the bar in order to keep up, people with creative, social, and emotional skills will become more employable as those skills are harder to automate.

The biggest challenge for the enterprise as it pertains to the future of jobs is to channel technological advances to its advantage. As technology continues automating labor and office tasks, the most favorable enterprises will choose to redefine rather than eliminate. Now the question remains: Just how far away are we from that?

Like this story? Learn more about advancements in artificial intelligence.