Feeds

Office wage slaves face extinction at hands of ROBOTS - if bosses listen to Gartner

Color us skeptical

Reducing security risks from open source software

Analyst house Gartner is warning management that they are missing the chance to sack lots of middle-class employees and replace them with computer systems by 2020.

"We certainly will not approach a state of mass unemployment at any time in the near future. What is also certain, however, is that many new combinations of technology - from intelligent software agents, expert systems and virtual reality assistants to software systems embedded in smart products and revolutionary new forms of robotics - will emerge and have great impacts in this decade," said Kenneth Brant, research director at Gartner.

"We won't need to develop a full-functioning artificial brain by 2020 for smart machines to have radically changed our business models, workforce, cost structure and competitiveness."

According to Brant, about 60 per cent of the CEOs Gartner interviewed described smart machines as a "futurist fantasy," but the analysts stand by their belief that these luddites will be crippling their businesses with higher wage costs if they don’t start preparing to sack staff and replace them with software.

"It's worth remembering that IT cost is typically about four percent of annual revenue, whereas the labor costs that can be rationalized by smart machines are as high as 40 percent of revenue in some knowledge and service industries," said Brant.

"The supply side of the market - including IBM, GE, Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon - is placing large bets on the success of smart machines, while the demand side includes high-profile first movers that will trigger an 'arms race' for acquiring and/or developing smart machines."

That's got to sound tempting to the bean counters in the back room, but El Reg suspects that the more skeptical bosses may have a point. As we have pointed out before, there's a world of difference between the promises of IT companies and the actual effectiveness of replacing skilled workers with software and casual staff. It would be a very foolish brave CEO who rushed into such a plan.

Gartner does at least acknowledge that its lofty predictions might be thwarted by reality. It says the growth of smart machines would be slowed if they don't work as well as advertised, or if people rebelled against being cast into the ranks of the long-term unemployed and elect politicians to limit the use of intelligent systems.

But the analysts' report warns that companies that don’t start preparing to shift to smart machines by 2015 "will not perform in the top quartile for productivity and operating profit margin improvement in their industry."

Then again, these predictions come from the firm that predicted Windows Phone would surpass iOS in popularity by 2015 (just ahead of BlackBerry – which Gartner predicted would have over 10 per cent of the market by then), and was very vocal in saying Apple's iPhone wasn't a business device and had limited appeal.

In other words, no need to panic just yet. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.