A fully automated information system can flawlessly process more information at greater levels of detail, freeing up people time for better, faster decisions. As information systems move to fully automated ‘hands free’ operations, many of the information processing jobs that are the least productive – for example, data entry – will finally become obsolete as full automation is deployed. One study reported by The Telegraph forecasts that more than 40% of Administrative jobs will be replaced by automation in the coming years.
For some, an organization running ‘hands free’ enterprise applications is as hard to imagine today as it would have been to imagine an assembly line with no workers in Henry Ford’s day. In manufacturing, low-skilled labor and single-purpose machines gave way to a system of configurable robots that almost take raw materials in at one end of the plant and push unique finished products out the other. The few people still working in the plant use new skills to monitor production, verify quality, resolve issues, and re-configure the robots when required. Fully automated information systems will cause similar changes in the work people do with information.
What kinds of new information systems jobs will arise due to the implementation of fully automated information systems? Once these systems are in place, we see four major job categories that interact with the system: Management, Process Specialists, Information Auditors, and Communications Specialists.
Management continues to be responsible for what business policies to implement in the system (e.g. how much inventory should we carry?), and for review and approval of critical processes such as disbursement of funds. Management will leverage data captured by the system and appropriate analytical tools to make decisions about optimal policies.
Process Specialists will be the skilled jobs that involve configuring information robots to implement management policies, monitoring their performance, and managing any exceptions that arise.
Information Auditors are responsible for inspecting the results of the information processes, insuring that the system accurately and completely implements the business policies determined by management.
Communications Specialists perform the critical role of liaison between various stakeholders (customers, vendors, employees, management) and the information system. Their job is to facilitate better communications, both serving as the information concierge for the stakeholders, and helping capture stakeholders’ feedback to improve information processes.
These new roles will replace the traditional enterprise application functions. Once the information robots are configured by the Process Specialists to implement the policies set by Management, fully automated systems can gather, process, and verify data – pausing long enough for management to approve results at key steps – without further human intervention. Information Auditors will spot check results to insure the system is processing effectively. Questions and suggestions will be funneled through Communications Specialists to insure all stakeholders are satisfied with both the policies set by Management and the execution of those policies by the information robots. The only question that remains is what to do about all of the empty cubicles…