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Robotics: The Future of your Office in 2016

Robotics: The Future of your Office in 2016

Gartner predicts one-third human workforce to be replaced by robots in the next decade. Should we be worried?

By Saheli Sen Gupta
Feature Jan 29th 2016

One of the technological aspects which is showing up big this year is robotics, and enterprises worldwide are raving about it. Earlier this year, research analyst firm, Gartner predicted that one-third of the workforce may be replaced by robots by the year 2025. But fret not because Forrester Research points out the obvious: what about the jobs created? The market research company predicts that while a 16 percent of job loss in the next decade is unavoidable, automation and robotics will help in creating 13.6 million more.

The first digitally operated and programmable robot was installed in the year 1961. Over time, industrial robots have been used in manufacturing, assembly lines, packaging and even research.

How are Indian IT companies faring in this machine race? Gopal Rangaraj, CIO & Head-IT at Alembic Pharmaceuticals, disagrees with the notion of robots affecting the human workforce and says that not more than five percent of human workers can be replaced by machines, if any. Commenting on the same, Avinash Arora, Director ICT (India & S.E.Asia) & Supply Chain Management at New Holland Fiat added, “India has an enormous potential to leverage its population in diversified areas of IT and IT enabled services. Why would you want to waste manpower where lifting can be done by a machine?”

The first digitally operated and programmable robot was installed in the year 1961. Over time, industrial robots have been used in manufacturing, assembly lines, packaging and even research. Robots are prevalent in jobs perceived as hazardous to people, like heavy lifting, defusing bombs, etc. How is robotics shaping the business and what are Indian CIOs doing about it?

“Indian IT companies will have to work just as hard as any IT services company with a big global delivery network of people to strategize how to both capitalise on the opportunities of robotic process automation and smart machines and make up for revenue which will be cannibalized by automation,” says Cathy Tornbohm, research VP at Gartner.

Cathy Tombohm, Research VP, Gartner

Research analyst firm Forrester believes that advancement in automation technologies will lead to humans working side by side with robots and other machines. But are things all rosy? Obviously not. Managing a workforce that is not completely human is still a mystery and so is the funding. Enterprise Center at Salem State University writes that, while robotics will be a part of a fundamental shift in the skills needed in the economy, it can weaken customer spending and consumer confidence levels.

Then again, when has technology ever not changed? Like every other year, this year too will witness monumental transformations in IT. How are things in robotics right now and what do analysts and CIOs think will happen in the near future? Will we finally have robot colleagues or are robots going to be restricted to the supply chain?

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