As workforce solutions expand the realms of human capital and begin to fully embrace technological solutions, it’s time to look at a few things that may drive demand for humans. Whether it is artificial intelligence, robots, drones, sensors or big data, you can be assured that these solutions are and will be working hand in hand (so to speak) with the human workforce of today.
Amazon recently announced it has increased its use of robots by 50% and plans to add 15,000 robots per year. Additionally, its latest store concept, Amazon Go, takes the entire buying experience to a new level: no lines, no checkout and no cashiers. Customers can choose items off the shelves and walk right on out; sensors and computers know what they buy and how much to charge their Amazon account. Sounds cool, huh? Even more telling is that Amazon announced last week that it would add 100, 000 full-time jobs in the next 18 months in the US.
Demand is the true driver. Some jobs may be replaced by technology, but the evolving ecosystem will create new and different jobs in their place. Think of UPS and FedEx as an example. Workers there are paid more and retained longer if they are able to master the technologies that drive operations — from loading to scheduling and many other tasks that demand human thought and oversight. Even drones will need a master and perhaps a few traffic cops someday.
Think of how convenient it is to shop online now. We buy more typically because of an ease of use — it’s quick, easy and is delivered right to our door. Positive reinforcement or good experiences result in more shopping and drive demand, which results in increased inventories and profits. More people are needed to develop and get the products to market and the cycle continues. The temporary staffing trucking and logistics industry has benefitted quite nicely from the increased demand generated by online shopping, not to mention the merchants who provide the goods. It has improved the experience for the consumer as well, giving them more choices, better price comparisons and targeted advertising.
Grocery stores with self-checkouts still have plenty of humans on the floor and behind the scenes stocking, servicing and helping shoppers. One of the better online experiences is when a vendor calls directly to see how you found their product and individualizes the buying experience for you. Yes, a human can elevate and enhance the online buying experience. There is also a huge demand for people in IT — because someone has to build the technology to make everything work.
Contingent workforce users need to think carefully about what key positions and processes will require human thought and interaction and plan accordingly. Rest assured, we will see artificial intelligence, robots, drones and self-driving cars as part of workforce solutions in the future. How we weave them into our society, our workflows and everyday lives is going to be very interesting and different but humans are what these workforce solutions will serve and new jobs will be generated, they just won’t be the same ones as before.