This is the 21st century. Jobs and automation

Two recent videos compel me to comment on emerging angst (not just mine) over the future of work. The first is a short film, The last job on Earth, and the second, a call to action by Annalie Killian, founder of the Amplify Festival, on the need to rediscover the magic of ‘people’ in work, Are Employees part of the Human-Centred Design focus of corporations? #Humanatwork

Having worked under the tagline, ‘Better, Faster, Cheaper, More Sustainable’ for almost a quarter of a century, I’ve been part of many teams developing collaboration and automated solutions for business problems. My aim has always been to keep my employers nimble, and ‘smarter’, by reducing waste, time and costs of operation, and create environments that permit people a higher order ‘human’ contribution, rather than having to serf an ever-growing tide of administration (sorry, ‘dad joke’).

Matthew Moore (@Innotecture) wrote recently (in Yammered) that the vision for Enterprise Social practices has changed since we started down the collaboration track (for me the mid 90s, for him, mid noughties) and under the heading, ‘The Death of the Utopian Vision of Enterprise Social’, Matt makes the following observation (my emphasis),

‘…the world has changed. The utopian vision of business in 2007 was all of us on social software talking like equals and forging a new egalitarian world together. The current vision of business in 2016 is somewhat different. Lets go back to Tom Davenport and Andrew McAfee. Both are now writing about automation (and also analytics for Davenport). The business vision of the organisation is one where we’ve removed everyone. We don’t need to give employees enterprise social platforms because there will be no one to talk to on them. Whether this is a utopian or dystopian future depends on whether you own the machines or are replaced by them.’ 

Can Matt’s point about Enterprise Social (collaboration) be extrapolated to motives driving business strategy and outcomes? To what extent? And what’s our role in this process?

Can we (re)find the magic Annalie is looking for? Or are we heading for ‘the last job on Earth’? And if we are, as Marillion might have asked, ‘Where’s the wisdom in that?