HQ Magazine

The Big Data Boss – He’s Replacing Employees, and Managers Too

Big data is here, and it’s not going away. 66% of all jobs are at risk of computerization over the next two decades according to a 2013 Oxford University study. While the workers of the world tear out their hair, wondering what they’ll do once the Robotron-5000 masters customer service, their managers gloat in back offices celebrating big data, dreaming of profits unfettered by the costs of labor. But they too are under threat from the robotics revolution. No one is safe from big data.

big data

Big data computers have already begun taking over some traditional managerial duties – sifting and evaluating resumes with applicant tracking systems (ATS), tracking and mapping communications with clients using customer relationship management (CRM) software, and providing actionable insights with automated predictive analytics packages. And their functionality is increasing every day.

The newest Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) can not only automatically schedule employees and process requests for time off, but can deploy workers to different locations by analyzing customer data and detecting algorithmic patterns that would be impossible for human managers to catch. Even strategy development for stock traders has been automated by big data. Computer programs analyze historical price data, scan the news, and make both short- and long-term predictions, all in the blink of a human eye.

In an experiment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) computer science and artificial intelligence lab, researchers formed 2-person teams configured in one of three ways: with a human boss, with a computerized boss, or with shared authority. With only the computer calling the shots, efficiency was not only higher but workers were happier, saying the robot overseer “better understood them.”

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An increasing number of experts, including Bill Gates, claim that the big data digital revolution is only just beginning. “Software substitution, whether it’s for drivers or waiters or nurses… it’s progressing,” Gates had said. “20 years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model.” That means that unlike in technologically prompted downsizing of the past, everybody’s on the chopping block, including managers.

In a world of automation, a boss’s compassion and understanding may be more liability than asset – the machine managers’ cool efficiency and lightning fast decision-making may mean that humanity becomes obsolete. Will big data be a better boss? Tell us what you think.

This article was published in the 2014 edition of HQ magazine, a publication of CSOFT International. If you’re interested in learning more about CSOFT’s globalization and localization solutions, don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed for automatic updates from Simply CSOFT!

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