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Computer automation is already changing everything

I am a fan of the Science Channel shows “Factory Made” and “How It’s Made.” I find it fascinating how automated factories can do everything from build light bulbs and create fireproof suits or manufacture breakfast cereal, box it and ship it.

Robots and other automated machines have definitely changed the face of manufacturing and many other routine office tasks. But now computer automation is creeping in on other types of jobs, those normally reserved for skilled, highly educated (and often highly paid) white-collar employees.

If you saw the IBM computer “Watson” beat the “Jeopardy!” contestants recently, you will know where this is going. contributor Adrian Bowles says that Watson-type machines will eventually become skilled at managing governance, risk and compliance (GRC) and enforcement thereof.

Next, the legal profession is seeing a major impact of technology taking on most of the arduous task of e-discovery, with computers capable of screening more documents in less time and at lower cost than human lawyers and paralegals.

Computers won’t completely replace these skills, especially GRC, which requires more than monitoring risk controls to be successful. As I wrote back in January, IT departments are learning to do more with less. If these trends continue, however, some IT departments are going to have a much easier time of it, while more specialized employees find themselves looking for work.

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