September 13, 2016

When a machine takes control

Taneli Tikka

Head of Innovation Incubation, Data Driven Businesses, Tieto

At best, an organisation in the era of robots is like a Buddha enlightened through critical thinking. It continuously searches for answers to questions: What are we doing? Which problem exactly are we trying to solve? What else or more important could we be doing? And how to lead people to the path of enlightenment, raising them to ultimately become masters?

Robotics and artificial intelligence not only give us means to take care of traditional physical routines, they also vastly expand our intellectual capacity and our capacity related to understanding. Artificial intelligence facilitates a new kind of working life and moulds the hierarchical structure that we are used to operating within.

Machine replaces middle management

Robotics can be used to replace organisations' middle management, administrative supervisory functions. Artificial intelligence is more efficient than humans in taking care of rotas, performance assessments and routine employee guidance. Robotics and artificial intelligence not only give us means to take care of traditional physical routines, they also vastly expand our intellectual capacity and our capacity related to understanding.

Making choices remains a task for the humans, because robotics is, after all, just a new hired hand, not a master. At the same time, employees' autonomy and self-management increase, because each person can organise his or her own work more effectively.

To be precise, the task of robotics and artificial intelligence is to make technology disappear completely into the background so that humans can focus on doing what they really want to do. More time is used for consideration and making decisions about what is being done and why.

Therefore, it could be said that the effect of robots on work is enriching and enhances humans' natural characteristics. Values and culture can never be machine-managed, and the organisation model is rolling from the matrix and line organisation's hierarchy toward family-like models that resemble a living organism and are better able to utilise advanced technology.

When an organisation continuously updates the core of its operations, values and culture become the key management tools. Only through them can self-managed employees be steered toward a common goal.

The blog is part of a report published by Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA ”Robots to work – what happens in the workplace”. Taneli Tikka wrote chapter "When a machine takes control" for the report, pages 63–86.  The report can be downloaded in Finnish on EVA's website.

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