Yoshimi battles the pink robots. Automation is so yesterday

Automation is so yesterday

Thomas H. Davenport

In 2011, Foxconn Technology Group (iPhone and iPad and assemblers) said they’d deploy a million robots within three years. CEO Terry Gou believed the robots would replace a million workers. In 2015, Foxconn has  about 50,000 robots installed, and still employs a million humans.

‘It is not cost effective to have a fully automated production line given the short product cycle of smartphones. Flexibility of workers is still crucial in a fast changing market.’ Analyst Kaile Huang, Wall Street Journal blog

‘Competitively, automation is a fast route to a dead end. Standardized products and processes will initially be cheaper, but then other firms will adopt the same approaches. Everyone’s prices will drop, as will profit margins. Companies won’t have enough margin to create innovative new products or processes. The strategic appeal of consistent, low cost machines will initially seem very seductive, but it will become much less so over time.’ Tom Davenport, Wall Street Journal blog

‘None of this means that humans shouldn’t worry about smart machines taking their jobs. Some of that will happen, and it will most likely impact the people who are already suffering in our economy those with the least education and experience… But many human jobs will persist because smart leaders will realize that augmentation combining smart humans with smart machines is a better strategy than automation.’ Tom Davenport, Wall Street Journal blog

Organizations that care about innovation, agile response to change, and high quality customer service will realize the value that humans bring to such essential attributes of contemporary business… We’re beyond the Industrial Age, and we should move beyond automation as a way to improve our businesses.’ Tom Davenport, Wall Street Journal blog