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The Daily

Report: Not Even CEOs Safe From Automation Risk

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Nov 6, 2015
RobotThere's no lack of articles warning that advances in computer engineering could automate certain jobs nearly out of existence, but a recent report by management consulting firm McKinsey ups the ante by suggesting that the impact could go as high as the C-suite, saying that about 20 percent of CEO tasks could be automated. Now, before people begin worrying that we'll be seeing robots taking companies over wholesale, the study notes that thinking of machines replacing jobs entirely is the wrong way to think about things: the report estimates that only about 5 percent of jobs can be automated completely. What's more likely, says the report, is that computers will take over certain job processes. 

For example, "mortgage-loan officers, for instance, will spend much less time inspecting and processing rote paperwork and more time reviewing exceptions, which will allow them to process more loans and spend more time advising clients," according to the report. 

So, while the jobs won't necessarily go away, they will be dramatically changed: the report estimates that about 45 percent of workplace tasks overall can be automated using already-existing technology. 

This, apparently, also applies to executive activities in a company: the report estimates that "activities consuming more than 20 percent of a CEO’s working time could be automated using current technologies. These include analyzing reports and data to inform operational decisions, preparing staff assignments, and reviewing status reports." What would be left for the CEO, then, would probably be tasks that have more of a broad, strategic focus. A question, too, is whether this would lead to cheaper CEOs for a company, considering they would have less to do, or more expensive CEOs, since they'd have computers to optimize their decisions.