4th Industrial Revolution

Building Someone Else’s Monopoly

I was reading an article a couple of days ago about new automated HR screening software. Reading about new developments in automation from accounting, law, fast foods, construction and on and on is nothing new. Automation is arriving at an ever-increasing rate. I think that even the most forward-thinking futurists will look back and wonder how they could have been so wrong about the pace of the changes that will happen over the next five years.

Along with the articles about the new and latest automation come the comments from people within the area decrying the new development with the words, “I’ll never get rid of my HR department (or whatever) and replace real people with a machine.” or “People will always choose service from a person over a machine.”

These are the two most common responses to automation that I hear from organizations related to the automation. The second response is right. Completely right. Up until the customer can save money by dealing with a machine. Consumers don’t realize that by choosing the less expensive alternative, in this day and age, they are usually supporting automation. Of course, after they deal with an AI customer service bot, they complain about having to deal with a machine, but don’t think through the repercussions of always going for the cheapest.

The first response about keeping with the humans leads directly to companies becoming insolvent. As more and more of the cognitive services we depend on have AI alternatives, companies cease to be competitive by keeping human workers when their competitors are switching to alternatives that cost them pennies when compared to their human equivalents.

So, how do we build monopolies? By clinging to the ways we have always done things in spite of the chances to adapt.

Megalaw.com will be the monopoly that will replace lawyers with automation. And it may very well have no legal expertise at the top. Spreadsheet.com will monopolize accounting because they will sell millions of small businesses accounting services at 1/10th the cost of a living and breathing accounting service. Some of the small businesses will cling to the traditional services and make themselves insolvent in the process – because if you reject automation in one area you aren’t likely to embrace it in another. www.worldwide.learning will become the school of tomorrow, and pizzagate.com will either dominate the pizza business or corner the conspiracy theory market.

Rejecting automation is non-viable for businesses or organizations that want to survive, and slow adoption of automation by a sector opens the door for an agile newcomer to build a monopoly business.

We’ve seen it happen in the recent past, are seeing it happen now, and will see it happen with increasing velocity tomorrow. Like it or not, welcome to the future.

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