It is an accepted fact that technology is advancing at breathtaking speed. While this offers organisations unparalleled opportunities to improve service levels, competitiveness and efficiencies, they also face major challenges in terms of how to adapt to these changes and manage technology transitions that seem to appear daily.
Nick Truran, CEO of AgileIT says, “Given huge corporate investments in technologies, which often don’t deliver intended value, businesses look to, and indeed demand, its IT heads and their departments to lead in innovation and growth. This makes the role of the CIO an exceptionally challenging one.”
AgileIT views IT departments as technology service providers to their respective businesses. The company was founded with the purpose of assisting these departments to deliver transformative solutions, that the business demands. Through the creation of a Technology Strategy. This starts with a roadmap and then moves though its execution and its evolution, ultimately driving down cost and increasing stability and efficiency.
Managing consequences of AI
One of the most significant trends in the IT field is the role being played by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Here, too, AgileIT can assist client companies to manage the consequences that often follow the incorporation of AI into an organisation.
“Businesses around the world are understanding the value of using AI to transfer labour from human workers to machines, thus eliminating wage increase demands, labour protests and strikes. At the same time, consumers benefit from automation when products and services become cheaper because of reduced input costs,” Truran said.
Very often, though, progress such as this comes at a cost. Recent economic trends in the developed world suggest that AI may also be a key driver of economic inequality, changing the relationship between labour and capital in an unprecedented manner. In South Africa, with an unacceptably high level of economic inequality, this trend is doubly worrying.
Senior Lecturer at Stellenbosch University Daniel B le Roux (https://bit.ly/2MgFqIH) estimates that occupations performed by almost 35% of South African workers — roughly 4.5 million people — are potentially automatable in the not-too-distant future.
The study also showed that 64 of the estimated 380 different occupation types employing South Africans have a 90% or greater probability of being automatable in the near future. These occupations include, for example, cashiers, tellers, secretaries and telephone salesmen.
Importantly, the country appears ill-prepared for this reality, given South African’s unemployment rate which has risen to 27,2% in Q2 of 2018, according to Statistics South Africa.
One of the key aspects of the services offered by AgileIT is exactly in this area. Given that South Africa has an unacceptable level of unemployment, companies are morally obliged to find ways by which workers displaced by automation remain employed. This involves upskilling within the organisation and moving people upwards, rather than out into the ranks of the unemployed.
AgileIT confronts this reality with its clients.
“We create strategies by which companies understand both the advantages and risks of using AI to automate jobs. Our experience in the field can predict which jobs are most likely to be at risk in a given situation. These processes do not happen overnight, which gives us enough time to create upskilling programmes that enable workers to move into new and hopefully more responsible jobs. That way, everyone wins – the company, its customers and, crucially, its employees.”