Future Friday: The automation of the C-Suite

The automation of the CEO will be possible in the not too distant future
The automation of the CEO will be possible in the not too distant future

As we talk about the future of work and the replacement of workers with automation little consideration is given to executive positions. My guess is that if you were to poll the C-suites of companies most of them would feel that their jobs are safe from automation. After all how can you automate the decisions they have to make? It turns out that those decisions can be automated and one piece of software has been created to do just that.

CEO in a box

Researchers at The Institute for the Future have created a program called iCEO which can be programmed to assign work and resources for projects. It does it smoothly, efficiently and in a shorter period of time than it would normally take a person. It pulled in people from around the globe to perform multiple tasks contributing to the overall project, in this case the production of a research report.
Certainly we are still awhile from replacing the C-suite. As Devin Fidler of the Institute for the Future said “To be sure, iCEO is still a rudimentary program; it will take us a year or two before it’s ready to be released as full-fledged enterprise level software which diverse companies can use.”

No job is immune

Even though executives are not in danger at the moment the researchers have shown that jobs previously thought immune to automation can be automated. Fidler says “The same cost/benefit analyses performed by shareholders against line workers and office managers will soon be applied to executives and their generous salaries.” By the way this will apply to many HR positions as well. The disruption of work that has been predicted by many will now not just apply to blue collar work.

Changing nature of work

One thing often forgotten by many is that the nature of work as we know it is an artifact of modern times. As Fidler said:

Corporate organizations are themselves a technology, one that has only existed in its current form for around 200 years, a fragment of human history. The corporate structure was created around the tools we had back in the 18th century to maximize scale while minimizing transaction costs. Now that structure is being disrupted by the advent of technologies which can accomplish many (if not most) of the projects we associate with corporations. With traditional organizations no longer necessary to create many things at scale, they are likely to be challenged by a new generation of alternative technologies for getting things done.

What we have considered to be “THE” way to work is really just a technological adaptation. We are about to enter a world that uses a different technology to redefine how work is done. Will you be ready?
Photo by tigger11th at Free Digital Photos

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