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Are robots really taking our jobs?

Oct 19, 2018

By Susan Moylan

More so now than ever before, business leaders are operating in an environment of intense and sustained change. It seems to be happening in all spheres of our lives, showing no signs of slowing down. Technology is probably one of the biggest changes affecting us all, no matter what industry we work in or what role we do.

Yes, the future is digital, but it will and should remain the case that both technology and people matter. Digital advancements will happen with or without us, so it’s time to take a proactive approach to identify how we intend to thrive in the future world of work, the digital age, robots or no robots.


We must transform our approach, moving beyond just automating existing processes. Organisations need to completely redefine processes and use new technologies we see emerging in our industry. 

Robotics will have an impact on individual jobs – there is no question about that – but rather than making the human race redundant, the increased use of robotics will bring inevitable changes to the roles that we do.

Technology will drive change to traditional roles in the future. New skills will need to be developed; creativity and innovation, change orientation, a strategic mindset and data analysis, to name a few. Our learning strategies will have to cater to the needs of a diverse workforce who are dispersed, global and multi-generational, and we can leverage new technologies such as mobile learning, gaming and virtual reality, to help us do this.

Our profession needs a different mindset. An openness to change is the single greatest blocker of any transformation – so organisations need highly agile teams. To help build high-agility, organisations and managers should nurture a culture which is open to change and view it as an opportunity. We need leadership teams that are change-orientated, who encourage delegated decision-making as standard. There must be a focus on talent development, taking the lead in the talent race by putting a concerted effort in attracting, retaining and developing our digital workforce.

Some people view the exponential growth of technology as a big challenge, a ‘problem’ that needs sorting out. Remember, though, these advancements have and will continue to make our lives better and easier in many ways. Technological advancement is here to stay, so business leaders must take advantage of the many opportunities provided, embrace it, and plan for it. If you don’t, your competitors will.

Susan Moylan is an Associate Director of the People & Change Consulting Practice at Grant Thornton NI.