How many jobs does digitization cost?

How many jobs will be lost if I digitize now? How do I determine whether a job will be lost, and what will be the positive and negative effects? There are no general answers because of how many jobs will be lost due to digitization, depending on the employees themselves.


When it comes to losing jobs, consumer protectors and trade unionists like to be carried away by dramatic statements. There is talk of hundreds of thousands of jobs that will become superfluous in the course of digitization. The fact is, digitization will certainly replace certain activities that no longer have to be performed manually, and it is, of course, cheaper to have a technician looking after the computers in ten stores than to have one employee in each store. The question of how many workstations this will ultimately cost can be philosophized about for a long time, but remain skeptical about absolute figures - it cannot be generalized.

Automated does not mean working on its own

Just because processes are automated in the course of digitization does not mean that everything runs by itself. Someone is needed to carry out maintenance, do the programming, adapt everything, make changes, drive optimization and development, and bring in their ideas. If you have an entirely automated process, it cannot in itself provide new ideas. You need people to do this, because only from a person comes new ideas that can improve something. Of course, a computer can also make specific improvements if it has an optimization algorithm. Using the input parameters, the computer can always readjust and optimize processes, but only up to a certain degree.

Processes do not replace people

During a recent phone call with a large mobile phone provider, I also came across an automated process. A computer welcomed me and asked for my request. All I wanted to do was order a new phone - but this did not appear in the computer's algorithm. So I asked for a consultant several times, but the laptop only understood that I wanted to lock my SIM card. On the weekend, I finally reached a colleague and was able to present my request. So you see that an automated process does not replace people yet. Even if one has been established and the employees who used to distribute the calls are no longer needed, it still needs someone to take care of customer support and customer inquiries. At this point, there must be someone who understands and can understand this. Someone who also thinks about it: Does it work as it should? Do we need new functions? Do we perhaps have to adapt operations?

Employees are important

Employees who used to deal with it are enormously valuable, even if their original activity is rationalized away by replacing it with a computer. At this point, the employee helps to develop things further. Take a look at your employees. If you have those who work according to the motto: "I did the same thing 15 years ago, and I'm not ready to change", you have the wrong ones on board, and usually you can do without them. That sounds very tough, but when it comes to moving the business forward, this is the way to go.

On the other hand, the employees find it exciting and want to go along with it, go forward as innovators, and pull others along with them. The majority will probably say that they have to change because they want to keep their jobs. You can also use these employees. When you have looked at everything in total, consider which of your employees you can deploy in the future. Then develop a strategy, and you will gradually know how many employees digitization will cost your company.

The topic of the loss of jobs as a result of digitization offers a lot to discuss. If you would like to talk about it, write to me at fragen@andredaus.comgive me a call or make an appointment.

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