Workplace competition is very common in this highly competitive world. As the value of the work competencies increase, the competition for recognition, appreciation, in turn for promotion and rise increases exponentially among the employees in organizations.

Workplace competition can either motivate the employees to perform better, increasing the performance at employee level and company level, while it can also lead to deteriorating work place,leading to stress and defensiveness at individual level while causing loss of productivity and capital to the company. Hence, workplace competition is considered to be the double edged sword which the management has to handle with utmost care.

How is your job going? Do you have a healthy competition in workplace? Are you the star performer of the team? Or likely to get a promotion or rise?

Well, if you think that your colleagues are the major competitors at your job, then you are not updated. Open your eyes to the new world of technology and you will notice that a new machine or a software may be your real competitor.

The impact of automation on humanity and its standards of living is huge. But, its impact on employment is also revolutionary. Hence, the technological advancement is rightly referred as technological revolution!

Technological advancement – Boon or Curse?

This is the major question that’s haunting the economists all over the world. As a coin has two sides, there are two views to this growing concern. The optimistic side and the pessimist side.

Pessimist in Shadows of History

Albert Einstein wrote, “Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all.”

The concerns on the negative impact of technological advancement were raised much before Albert Einstein. It dates back to the industrial revolution with the automated looms laying off the textile workers leading to technological unemployment followed by social movement.

The replacement of man by machines, creating unemployment is called technological unemployment.

The term was first used in 1930’s by John Maynard Keynes, to refer the unemployment created by technological innovation.

But, he did mention that, the situation of unemployment is temporary phase of maladjustment and once adjusted, it will create more job opportunities. His prediction was proved to be right as we now see the increased opportunities for employment in varied fields.

But, after a long time, the fear has resurfaced.

Economists all over the world now fear that, the advances in technology will replace man by machines in future creating unemployment.


Why do industrialists prefer machines over man?

The recent studies suggests that, substituting capital for labor through automation is very attractive, as it will be one time investment on machines, unlike labor. Besides, the machines are tangible assets to the company. Also, most delicate and heavy work for human can easily be done by machines.

The speed, accuracy, increased and controlled output are all very appealing reasons for industrialists to switch from man to machines.

Who will be affected?

Economists predict that, wider array of jobs may be taken over by computers and machines which includes both white and blue collar workers. While the Spreadsheets, software, automated machines and apps have already taken away the jobs from the market, more is in store in coming decades.

One best example is the development of the IBM’s super computer Watson. Watson, the creation of IBM, is a super computer of Jeopardy fame. Watson has worked as a call center operator, hotel concierge and IBM is now training Watson to become a cancer specialist!! To achieve this, IBM uses Watson’s highly sophisticated artificial intelligence to find personalized treatment to cancer patients based on treatment records, disease history, scan reports, genetic data, symptoms and more related to cancer.

It is also estimated that, Watson can analyze lab reports better than lab technicians and suggest the future diagnosis and treatment in any diseased condition.

This news on Watson for being trained as cancer specialist, has spurred mixed reaction among the professionals, even after being assured by IBM that Watson will not replace doctors but will only assist them.

A recent study, published by Carl Benedikt and information engineer Michael A. Osborne at the University of Oxford, estimates that around 702 occupations would be soon taken away from human by computers. Loan officers, tax preparers, cashiers, locomotive engineers, taxi drivers and animal breeders are all in the danger of going the way of switchboard operator.


Optimist’s View – Blessing in Disguise


Success is a matter of view point. A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity and an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty. It is the same with the optimists of technological revolution.

Some optimistic economists have an opinion that, the technological revolution will create more jobs than it takes away from the market. They even refer to the history of industrial revolution to support their view point.

The industrial revolution in Britain created employment opportunities which could cope with the requirements of the exploding population of 20th century!! In fact, Keynes had predicted that, the technological development would include a period of lag phase which will have a fall in employment, steady phase with stagnant employment levels and a log phase with increased job opportunities.

The lag and steady phases would be the result of maladjustment. He had said that, once the world understands the applications of technology, the opportunities it would create would be enormous, for which we now stand witness.

Face the True North to win the challenge:

No, matter where you stand or in what direction, a true north always exists irrespective of your position and opinion. In the same way, whatever may be the opinions of economists, whether optimistic or pessimistic, you still stand a chance of being replaced by technology.

How well are you prepared for that?

There are still areas of work which cannot be automated, like impulsive and intuitive decision making, human resource management, counselling, disaster management, crisis management, planning and organizing, delegating and leading. Such work which includes intelligence – both cognitive and emotional, would be very critical in future. So, the need of the hour is not only to develop your cognitive skills but also to improve the emotional quotient.

Also, industries like agriculture, diary, medicine, service industry and education cannot be replaced completely by technology. Human involvement is mandatory in these industries and if technology is used, it will be to make things easy, to facilitate.

Sharpen the Saw

Choose a right field, a right career and always be open to new opportunities. Learn to use technology, but also learn the competencies of work, improve your skills, sharpen the saw so that you become indispensable.