The so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is based on the Digital Technology Revolution as stated by the Executive Director of the World Economic Forum (Klaus Schwab) in the transition to new systems that are built on the infrastructure of the digital revolution.
Everybody known that internet access has brought major changes worldwide, and the labor environment is no exception to this. Communication speed has changed, as well as the clients’ expectation of results, which gives a leading role to the so-called “artificial intelligence” or “human intelligence carried out by machines”.
ILO- This evident workforce displacement caused by technology has created major changes in how labor markets operate, both in terms of employment and salary levels, as well as of dynamics of work occupations. This has been evidenced in several studies conducted by the ILO (International Labor Organization), which leads to the question of whether technology innovations are a source of exclusion for workers or if otherwise these create new job opportunities (Cambios tecnológicos y laborales, sus implicancias en el mercado de trabajo de Argentina OIT, 2018)
In fact, the 19th Regional Meeting of ILO held in October 2018 – under the “Panama Declaration for the ILO centenary: The future of work in the Americas”, stated the need to work in policies to respond to new and different forms of employment created by technology revolutions and new business models to avoid workforce displacement in Latin America, as well as the need to work in professional training to prepare young people towards the digital world.
Chatbots – Based on this, the possibility of being replaced by a robot, machine or artificial intelligence system is closer than ever. For instance, we see that the so-called “chatbots or conversational bots”, which consist in computer programs – or Artificial Intelligence software – are designed to simulate conversations with people by keyboard or voice and are capable of operating by simulating human behavior and have emerged as first response when accessing to a bank, commercial establishment and even when ordering food.
Chatbots have been devised so that no person is able to manipulate them, which makes interaction with a real person the last option in case the tool is unable to clarify my doubts or meet my purchase needs.
Nowadays, many companies and government entities are being supported by “ChatBots” to respond to queries from their users or prospective clients, either by chats at their websites, social media or WhatsApp messages. As a way of example, now the Judiciary is using this tool to process criminal record certification applications.
In words of Joe Bush, Cofounder of “The Chat Shop -www.chatbot.com”, the ChatBot platform is so flexible and provides so many benefits to users that it has led to a 30% increase in prospective clients while also dramatically reducing its service costs, which also results in a reduction of the staff that used to serve clients in the past.
Online Shops: Without a question, one of the most popular to date and with the largest staff reduction (store dependants, cashiers, or maintenance workers are no longer necessary), we also see tools such as “SINPE móvil” which enables users to link a colones bank account to its cell phone device, and conduct wire transfers and online payments in a quick and easy way to other banks subscribed to this service, as a result of which the former customer service chain (customer service staff, cashiers, office workers, etc.) has been replaced.
Telework: The country has approximately one month and a half of having implemented telework to a broadest extent both in the public and private sectors as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic declaration. This has brought a number of questions as to how to follow up on work performance, how to apply “remote” disciplinary measures and how to document interactions that historically we used to print out, sign and stored in each file.
Once again, technological support has become the best partner for employers as not only allows to implement telework through difficult times but also allows them to resort to technological systems to measure effective working time, access to computers or equipment, and appropriate management of work tools and, without a doubt, the use of systems facilitating meetings and conversations that not so long ago used to be carried out face to face. This is why it is important to document game rules in place during telework and notify them before its implementation.
We even see that as a result of the vehicle circulation restriction resulting from the health emergency, many employers are resorting to electronic tools or chatbots, where the employee provides his/her information and the tool itself issues certificates with the electronic signature of an employer representative so that this certificate is available without requiring human interaction at any time.
Also, the figure of consultant for vacation, payroll, work schedule matters and other frequently asked questions from employees has been replaced by chatbots and the role of human resources advisor tends to be focused on more specialized cases which the “robot” is not able to answer.
Thus, technology has been a significant support in employment relationships, has lowered the risks arising from the use of machinery and from the performance of activities that used to put workers in danger, but at the same time has displaced workers. This is why it is important for us as workers to innovate on a daily basis to avoid being displaced. Just as Klaus Schwab said “The fourth revolution has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world;” however, the transformation process will only benefit those capable of innovate and adapt.
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