With thanks to all who participated, here are your responses to my question … How are you feeling about digitization and AI?
In the short term
I asked readers whether you’re concerned that robots and computers could replace you in your job in the next five years, and only 13% of respondents identified as either “somewhat” or “very” worried. Thirty-eight percent reported being “not too worried” and almost half the respondents, 49%, reported that you’re “not at all” worried.
Those numbers shifted, though, when I asked whether you’re concerned about whether those same innovations could significantly change your job in the next five years. Only 18% of respondents reported that you’re not at all concerned. Fifty-eight percent reported being “not too concerned”, while another 24% identified as being “somewhat” or “very” concerned.
In the longer term
… the percentages continued to shuffle when I posed the same two questions, but looking forward 10 years. When it comes to potential for robots and computers to replace you in your job in the next decade, 31% of respondents identified as either “somewhat” or “very” worried. Thirty-sixpercent reported being “not too worried” and almost half the respondents, 33%, reported that you’re “not at all” worried.
What about concerns that robots and computers could significantly change your job in the next decade? Fourteen percent of respondents reported that you’re not at all concerned. Forty-four percent reported being “not too concerned”, while another 42% identified as being “somewhat” or “very” concerned.
It’s a complete 360 from the way we have always done things
IR4.0 and change are already here
I’ve been writing about and presenting on IR4.0, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, for some time now. It’s upon us, and so it’s unsurprising that 51% of respondents reported affirmatively when I asked whether digitization has changed the way you execute your responsibilities in the last year.
Assistants are anticipating additional changes coming down the pipes, as well. When I asked whether readers anticipate digitization changing the manner in which you execute any of your responsibilities in the next 24 months, the numbers went up and 60% of you responded with a “yes”.
It helps to be comfortable with change
… and that’s the case for many of you. A full 58% percent of respondents reported that you’re very comfortable with change. I asked readers to assign a rating of 1 (low), 2 or 3 when it comes to your own comfort level when it comes to change, and a modest 4% of respondents selected the lowest possible rating. I wasn’t surprised that the majority of you selected the other two rating indicators; assistants spend their working lives adjusting and responding to change. For the 4% who are uncomfortable with such prospects, acknowledging this discomfort is a good first step. Now you need to determine how to tackle and ideally overcome that feeling.
I’m not 100% digital and uncertain if I’ll ever be, but I do anticipate utilizing more digital platforms over the next two years
Looking forward to job changes as a result of digitization
I asked readers to select one of five responses to describe the way you feel about the potential that digitalization may change your job. Some great news: no one selected the response that would suggest denial. Four percent of respondents think all this talk is overblown and that digitization won’t make a lot of difference.
Another 18% of respondents reported being cautiously curious, and almost a third (31%) reported that you’re reading and learning all you can to try and prepare. A full 47% reported being pleased, and anticipated creation of opportunities to add value in different ways.
… it is more likely that new skills are expected from me and I try to discern which they will be, so that I am prepared when the time comes
What will it look like?
Have a look at the data below for readers’ comments on changes in just the past 12 months to how you execute your responsibilites … and to see further changes your peers are anticipating in the next 24 months! How to prepare? Watch for more on this in my upcoming book.
THE DATANote: Information below reflects the percentage of respondents who selected specific responses from multiple choice options. In instances where more than one person offers similar responses to an open ended question, I typically cluster or paraphrase such responses rather than duplicating all of them.
1. How worried are you that robots and computers could REPLACE you in your job in the next 5 years?
- Not at all worried: 49% of respondents
- Not too worried: 38% of respondents
- Somewhat worried: 11% of respondents
- Very worried: 2% of respondents
2. How concerned are you that robots and computers could SIGNIFICANTLY CHANGE your job in the next 5 years?
- Not at all concerned: 18% of respondents
- Not too concerned: 58% of respondents
- Somewhat concerned: 20% of respondents
- Very concerned: 4% of respondents
3. How worried are you that robots and computers could REPLACE you in your job in the next 10 years?
- Not at all worried: 33% of respondents
- Not too worried: 36% of respondents
- Somewhat worried: 27% of respondents
- Very worried: 4% of respondents
4. How concerned are you that robots and computers could SIGNIFICANTLY CHANGE your job in the next 10 years?
- Not at all concerned: 14% of respondents
- Not too concerned: 44% of respondents
- Somewhat concerned: 31% of respondents
- Very concerned: 11% of respondents
5. Has digitization changed the way you execute any of your responsibilities in the last year?
- Yes: 51% of respondents
- No: 49% of respondents
6. If you answered “yes”, how has digitization changed the way you execute any of your responsibilities in the last year?
- Previously paper-based reconciliations are now done via software.
- It has made it so much easier. Google calendar auto adds travel. It’s easier to work faster and be more productive with tools to automate tasks. / Faster, more efficient
- Change of duties
- Keeping reference files, projects and next action lists have been imperative to organization. Now I can locate something on a moment’s notice (with a robust search bar) and have overall peace of mind that there is less clutter. I am more productive with less paper.
- Board meetings are run on Diligent with all comments and documents being done through the program. We’ve moved to a paperless office, (with) all documents saved in a repository. Digital signatures.
- More digital tools, digital signatures / Digital signatures. Document approval via email, digital filing instead of paper filing.
- Orders, tasks, communications, processes. I embrace technology and work with it to enhance my performance and effectiveness.
- It has actually allowed to me do tasks quicker, which allows me time to focus and develop more substantial tasks. / More use of my computer … so it (a process) takes less time. / Systems that work/function smarter
- Tasks for me remain the same; it’s HOW I do them that’s changed. Some examples: meeting scheduling via Doodle … Updating principals via text messaging rather than phone calls … Sending meeting schedule announcements electronically
- More use of Skype conferencing and new computer programs / I have been able to Skype remotely with staff I needed to meet with but who for various reasons were unable to travel. They were able to scan and email information I needed in order for me to complete my tasks.
- I am excited about the new technology. I started my working life with manual journal entry ledgers and have seen the way we can move quicker and easier with technology I have embraced digitization for the last 50 years and will continue to do so.
- Everything is moving in the direction of less paper, more digitization. I think it’s been especially difficult to follow suit for people who have worked in the traditional office environment for their whole careers because it’s a complete 360 from the way we have always done things.
- I personally still prefer paper over electronic for several aspects of my work, including editing / doc review, resource materials, etc. and I’m not sure I will ever feel differently. One thing I much prefer in digital format is the preparation of credit card reconciliations and expense reports. It was such a pain having to deal with all those little pieces of paper and scanning everything …
- Processing expense reports is getting easier and less cumbersome! Yay! There are more and more tools being activated that help streamline things like calendaring, event planning, etc.
- Less telephone contact (and) more computer / More computerized communications
- Yes, I hired my first AI assistant to handle customer support issues on our website. It’s awesome. We’re now looking at ways to use this tool to better support our customers online in the moment when they have questions.
- File sharing and calendar management to start with. / Calendar management / Document management
- Travel management
- At my current job I work totally digitally. I do not print anything anymore.
- At the office there are only flexible workplaces (for employees and) also for the board of directors.
- I have had to upskill and remain relevant to the teams I support by acquiring better IT skills.
- As a lot of the technology is emerging, it is not always more efficient and it removes the personalised service to our customers and wastes time and energy.
- The use of apps has removed some of the need for manual processes. Less need for dictation as you can talk to the computer and it will type for you.
7. Do you anticipate digitization changing the manner in which you execute any of your responsibilities in the next 24 months?
- Yes: 60% of respondents
- No: 40% of respondents
8. If you answered “yes” to # 5, how do you anticipate digitization may change the way you execute any of your responsibilities in the next 24 months?
- As we combine lean processes with technology and digitization, more and more (processes) will become simpler to complete.
- We are implementing an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system at my work, which will eventually digitize most if not all of our business processes.
- Additional training responsibilities to ensure all staff are up to speed and being the nominated superuser
- I’m not 100% digital and uncertain if I’ll ever be, but I do anticipate utilizing more digital platforms over the next two years. / I will use more digital tools. / Smarter and faster tools and online services
- Approval of more documents by email or directly in the specific system/software
- Evolution of tasks and roles / If I am spending less time on basic data entry, copy of data, and processing basic data, I will have more time to expand on my project management roles. The EA role has evolved from someone who takes diction and transcribes what we are told to (being) a leader in our own right – bringing and tailoring market best practices to our organisations and finding the best way to make our organisations’ systems support our executives’ successes.
- We are looking to move more of the monotonous and repetitive tasks into tools or apps that can manage those requests for us so we can use our team members for more projects and tasks requiring (human) intelligence.
- Typing by voice. Computer calls to make any kind of reservation, etc., etc.
- Paper documents will be eliminated, office sizes will shrink, employees will be able to work from home and access documents electronically. There will be a downstream effect on other industries as paper, filing cabinets, pens, pencils, binders, etc. are no longer necessary. Drivers of trucks for storage sites (will be impacted) and the number of storage areas will decrease. Many other industries will shrink and disappear as will jobs in the office. I’m glad I’m retiring in five years as I would have to return to school to know how to work in the new environment like the Millennials.
- Keep up with new stuff reading about new developments and futurists
- I cannot provide a specific prediction, as I see SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) being not so fast in adopting new technologies. I am on watch keeping up with tech news and educating myself through LI webinars. I don’t fear being replaced by AI. In my opinion it is more likely that new skills are expected from me and I try to discern which they will be, so that I am prepared when the time comes.
- Hope so … assume (it will) take away tasks and not responsibilities – look forward to focusing on high priority strategy or projects for execs and team
- I think it will be largely organic and gradual – no telling what it will be, either!
- I think that a lot of what we do now in terms of calendaring, travel planning, some aspects of event planning and project management will definitely change – which means we have to start upping our game in the area of soft skills and become masters of strategic partnerships.
- As we automate more of our processes, we will be freeing up a considerable amount of time (in which) we can support our managers (in) attaining more strategic goals.
- I have already interacted with virtual assistants.
- We will see.
- Automated processes for travel claims / Some approval processes will take place online rather than on paper
- I think there will be more other manners to communicate instead of email. We are going to use different platforms.
- The 4th industrial revolution will bring about further change and advancements in technology.
- More and more apps exist to provide tools, and I expect that this will increase the amount of information that is captured or shared between myself and my CEO / leadership team.
- Data being input to or extracted from systems rather than manually typed into a spreadsheet record, for example
- Hopefully greater efficiencies and more streamlined delivery of services, but I’m not convinced based on what I’ve seen in how our organisation has implemented it.
- I don’t know, but I’ll embrace it.
9. On a scale of 1 (low; uncomfortable) to 3 (high; very comfortable), how comfortable with change are you?
- 4% of respondents: 1 (low; uncomfortable with change)
- 38% of respondents: 2
- 58% of respondents: 3 (high; very comfortable with change)
10. Which of the following best describes the way you feel about the possibility that digitization could change your job?
- 0% of respondents: I don’t want to think about it; I like things the way they are
- 4% of respondents: I think this is all overblown; I don’t think it’ll make a lot of difference
- 18% of respondents: I’m cautiously curious
- 31% of respondents: I’m reading and learning all I can to try and prepare
- 47% of respondents: I’m pleased; I think it will create opportunities to add value in different ways