Start prepping to welcome robots at workplace
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The lack of skilled IT workers is hurting the deployment of emerging technology, according to a new survey from Gartner. In areas from cloud to cybersecurity, this crisis is expected to last for years to come.

With robotics making great strides and more companies recruiting robots into their workforce, it is time IT managers started prepping for changes coming their way. Introducing robots isn’t as simple as getting a fleet of robots and setting them loose in the office building. It requires careful consideration to how the technology would affect the existing workforce and processes, and what kind of changes are needed to integrate them with the existing ecosystem. IT heads and business leaders should work closely to draw a plan of action to do this.

Unlike most other technologies, robots affect the real world directly. Managing them efficiently and keeping them secure from attacks, requires a whole new set of skills and mind-set in IT managers. After all, robots will throw challenges they have not dealt with before.

Bring in new skills

Large companies that are gearing up to introduce robots into their operations should consider hiring a Chief Robotics Officer. A CRO would be responsible for drawing and implementing the company’s robotics strategy. He would work with the CIO and the CTO to integrate robotics into the existing processes and advice business heads on ‘robotizing’ more processes.

Companies bringing in robots need IT workers with expertise in robotics- understanding of sensors, computer visions, programming models and artificial intelligence.

Upgrade skills

IT manager should upgrade their skills – not just enough to get robots up and running but to understand the new challenges and needs they would give rise to. Expertise in skills like manipulation, navigation and locomotion, and perception and vision will give a new edge to their careers.

Dispel fears

There are a number of speculations and fears about robots replacing humans at workplace. First, it is hard to calculate how introducing robots will affect employee numbers.

Second, robots may displace people but not replace them. Making robots do all the tasks that people do is extremely difficult. With robots assisting them, people can avoid mundane, physically demanding or dangerous jobs.  Instead, they can perform tasks that require human intelligence and decision making. Yes, some jobs would be displaced, but employees in those jobs would soon find themselves doing interesting jobs.

Business leaders should make it clear to employees why robots are being introduced and how they would affect their jobs. Employees will be more willing to allow robots if they see how they help them with their work.

Train employees

People may be anxious about working with robots; they imagine robots going out of control or accidentally hurting them.

The onus of training employees on how to use robots and putting them at ease working with them is on IT departments. IT trainers can begin with those who are digital native, comfortable with working on computers and early adopters. 

Think infrastructure

 IT managers have to assess the infrastructure required to bring in and manage robots. This includes connecting the robots safely and efficiently to the existing ecosystem i.e., other technologies, processes, people and navigational facilities. The idea is to establish infrastructure foundations to scale for the next 10 years.


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