Humanity Works

Humanity Works, Merging Technologies and People In The Workplace of the Future, by Alexandra Levit, Kogan Page 2018 



Beyond the rise of an unevenly distributed global workforce, US concerns about China, basic human and worker rights' conflicts, author Levit sees big challenges ahead as we attempt to manage technologies and people to build an integrated workforce.  And despite more powerful technology - AI and robotics - growth, the US continues to be pressed by increasing worker shortages and an aging workforce.  This is the kind of shift that could spell disaster -  or big, huge opportunity.


Levit believes that not all human skills will be replaced by robots.  She says that in the future, virtual work teams, assisted by remote access technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality and telepresence will be integrated into all facets of a company's operations.  Teamwork will be valued and rewarded, but the teams themselves will form and disband with lightning speed    The important point to focus on for manufacturing, is how will these virtual teams work with and use technology because for the past two to three decades many manufacturing operations in the US have neglected technology, searching for simpler and cheaper solutions.  Our rusted out technology infrastructures need renewal and the only way to begin the rebuild is through deliberate - and very courageous - evaluation of just exactly where manufacturing is today in IT applications.  It's a daunting task, and much easier to talk lean and kaizen.


So, case studies are a good place to start.  Levit offers great examples of companies that are attempting the shift to appropriate technologies, without leaving workers and teams behind.  "According to McKinsey, with the help of artificial intelligence software, nearly 50% of worker activities can already be turned over to a machine.  Further, McKinsey counted 70 entire professions in which 90% of job responsibilities can be automated, ranging from mail couriers and bakers to accountants and lab technicians."


Think about this radical statement:  "The most pressing issue related to accessing global talent pools involves migration policies and processes that obstruct the timely  predictable and flexible access to talent." 


How long does it take to rebuild a rusted out, neglected IT infrastructure?  Most organizations, says Levit, "implementing automation and other forms of digital transformation, expect to realize full productivity benefits between two and seven years after making the investment."



"The maturation of deep learning along with machines' ability to perform more complex algorithms will be a powerful combination.  By the 2020s, we will see deep learning machines undertake operational functions including defining project scope and analyzing risks."


Expect visions and conclusions from this volume that are shocking.  But the connections that we begin to make with technology and human work groups are the book's value.  Read it and look ahead.



 Patricia E. Moody

FORTUNE magazine  "Pioneering Woman in Mfg" 

IndustryWeek IdeaXchange Xpert

A Mill Girl at Blue Heron Journal, on-line resource for business thought-leaders and decision-makers,,,,