Good news, human workers (well, for now)

“Automation is happening, and it will bring substantial benefits to businesses and economies worldwide, but it won’t arrive overnight.”

That’s according to a new report by McKinsey Global Insights (MGI), which has been conducting ongoing research into automation technologies and their potential effects. The report, “A future that works: Automation, employment, and productivity,” highlights several key conclusions of MGI’s researchers:

  • Automation could increase productivity globally by 0.8% to 1.4% annually
  • Fewer than 5% of occupations are candidates for full automation
  • Almost every occupation “has partial automation potential”

“We estimate that about half of all the activities people are paid to do in the world’s workforce could potentially be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies,” MGI writes. “That amounts to almost $16 trillion in wages.” And in case you think you’ll be unaffected:

“It’s not just low-skill, low-wage work that could be automated; middle-skill and high-paying, high-skill occupations, too, have a degree of automation potential. As processes are transformed by the automation of individual activities, people will perform activities that complement the work that machines do, and vice versa.”

Yikes! So what does “it won’t arrive overnight” mean, exactly?

“Our scenarios suggest that half of today’s work activities could be automated by 2055, but this could happen up to 20 years earlier or later depending on various factors, in addition to other economic conditions,” researchers write.

Since this is 2017, that means half of today’s work activities could be automated a mere 18 years from now. That’s not long for enterprise employees to re-imagine how they can deliver value to their employers.

Workers used to filling up their days performing tasks that eventually can be automated will have to start thinking of their positions strategically and within the context of the enterprise’s goals. They’ll have to learn how to flourish on the job alongside their automated colleagues. That in turn should energize enterprises as more employees become increasingly engaged and proactive.

So, are you welcoming or dreading the coming automation?


Will a robot take my job? Not if I’m creative!

Where does the spark come from? Ways to get creative at work

Workforce of the future: Are you planning for robots in your team?



  1. They need to learn how to work together with their auto colleagues and how to get a job.


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