Will Technology Replace Our Jobs?

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Technology won't replace jobsBy Emilie Totten

As technology becomes more sophisticated, there is a growing unease that computers will eventually replace jobs. If you Google the subject, you’re likely to come across frightening predictions of exactly what percentage of jobs will be replaced by technology in the coming years. However, we don’t see computers eliminating a significant portion of the workforce in the near future. Here are three reasons why:

Computers can’t form relationships
While Spike Jonze’s recent movie “Her” provides a compelling science fiction narrative of an operating system and a human falling in love, computers can’t form meaningful relationships with people. As a result, jobs that are based on interpersonal relationships won’t be replaced by technology in the foreseeable future, The Economist notes. While marketing software can automate your lead flow with relevant and targeted emails, we have yet to see a platform that can communicate with a prospect on a human level, reading their facial expressions and truly understanding their concerns. For instance, the best salespeople can really connect with their customers in this way. According to The Economist, as data entry jobs become automated, workers will increasingly enter positions that require empathy.

Creativity is a human phenomenon
Computers can masterfully automate many tasks related to data-entry, but so far, no computer has been able to compose a masterpiece on par with “War and Peace.” Jobs that are based on human ingenuity will likely never be replaced by technology, and marketers who excel in creating copy that promotes a service won’t be replaced by Siri. According to The Fiscal Times, people who think for a living, like financial analysts, marketers and journalists are unlikely to be replaced by technology anytime soon, if ever. In addition to writing, art and other purely creative tasks, individuals who do this type of work make value judgments that machines can’t. While a machine can tell you which ways the numbers are going, it may not be able to tell you why, or it may paint a picture that’s too narrow. Analytics can provide insight into which marketing materials perform best and automation technology may even be able to develop documents and emails for you, but the strategy is still something that requires human creativity. At the end of the day, marketing is a combination of art and science, and creativity is a human phenomenon.

Technology creates new jobs, it doesn’t replace them
When people think about technology replacing jobs, they may fail to see the big picture. Technology won’t steal your job, leaving you unemployed forever. Sophisticated platforms will merely take over the more robotic jobs, leaving you with new options to pursue. This transition won’t be immediate. For instance, while it may be true that automation replaces some aspects of a given job, this opens the door for marketing and sales teams to direct their cognitive abilities toward work that really matters. According to a report from The Economist, it’s true that certain automated platforms could replace jobs. However, new jobs will spring up in their places, and they may look very different from the old ones.

As The Washington Post also notes, new technology will create new jobs. Technology hasn’t been replacing jobs at all, just shifting them around. The newspaper cites a book from Massachusetts Institute of Technology professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, which predicts that jobs won’t be lost because new technologies create new needs and increase demand for certain products and services. When automation is used to make a service more efficient, it’s likely that more units will be sold, which may require more employees to be hired. As an article in Slate noted, there were more bank tellers, bookkeepers and sales clerks in 2009 than there were in 1999. The reason is automation.

For example, ATMs didn’t eliminate bankers, they just eliminated the need to perform simple tasks. Now bank tellers perform more complicated tasks, such as building relationships, instead. In addition, having ATMs lowered operating costs for banks, which meant they were able to expand to new locations and hire more people, according to Slate. Document automation allows firms to utilize their marketing teams to grow strategically. Instead of spending time on tedious tasks, they can focus on planning activities that really drive business growth.

Conclusion: Technology gives us time to be more human
Will technology replace our jobs? Not likely. In the end, the greatest advances in technology in the past few years haven’t pushed humans out of the picture, but given them more effective ways to connect. Rather than replacing sales and marketing, automation technology provides a better outlet for them to work together and combine their cognitive abilities, and so far, human capabilities dramatically exceed anything a robot can do. Throughout the rest of the 21st century, we’ll continue to see technology evolve, but inventions will just change the way we work for the better.

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Emilie is Chief Marketing Officer at Synthesis. She brings over 15 years of integrated sales and marketing experience working with financial services, SaaS, and health and wellness companies. Her passion is architecting holistic marketing strategies that align with each business function to achieve client experience, employee advocacy, and revenue goals. When she isn't marketing, you can find her rehabbing her home in the Chicago suburbs, practicing yoga, or spending time with her family.


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