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How do we get to the point where technology is the infrastructure firms run on, and what happens when we do?

Source:本站      Click:323      Time:2018-05-05

If someone told you productivity in the UK is at the lowest level since the 18th century, how would you react? Skepticism would be warranted, because that's actually not true. Still, it provided the backdrop for an in-depth discussion on productivity and the future of work in relation to technology with one of the people in the know.

Read also: How workers can retrain for careers in an automated world | Standing on the shoulders of metal and silicon giants | Numbers tell the story: A new record for automation technologies

Guy Kirkwood is UiPath's chief evangelist. UiPath is among the leaders in Robotic Process Automation (RPA), with robots in this case being software robots configured to carry out repetitive tasks that humans previously handled. Think data entry, form submission, and the like.

Kirkwood, with a 20-year career in Business Process Outsourcing before joining UiPath, is known for making bold statements: "Outsourcing is dead" and "AI is bollocks" are some of those, and the "Fourth Industrial Revolution is coming" is the one that triggered this conversation.


Productivity is computed by dividing average output per period by the total costs incurred or resources (capital, energy, material, personnel) consumed in that period. So, to set the record straight, productivity in the UK today could not possibly be at the same level as in the 18th century.

Read also: The first 10 jobs that will be automated by AI and robots | Ten jobs that automation won't kill off | Humans often to blame for automation horror stories


The findings of research conducted by the Bank of England were different; what it said was that productivity growth in the UK is stagnating. Kirkwood sees this as a sign, and noted that today and the 18th century have one thing in common: They are transition periods.

"Today marks the period when post-industrial economies move into the fourth industrial revolution, one predicated on the automation of white collar work and the development and deployment of artificial intuition systems that will extend the cognitive power of an individual human," Kirkwood said.

Kirkwood expects that productivity gains wrought by the first industrial revolution will be repeated in this fourth industrial revolution, although it's going to take a few years to show.

"Looking at venture capital investment should give an idea. VCs look at market size, and RPA and intelligent automation cross-cut across all industries -- there's no limit to where they can spread. Soon, there will be one robot for each employee. The productivity gain will be massive," he said.

Kirkwood points toward his own experience to justify this claim: UiPath has raised more than 180 million in the last year or so, its client base has grown more than 10 times (from 100 to 1100+ globally), and it has either secured or is negotiating deals with the likes of Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, and Salesforce.

And it's not just UiPath. RPA as a whole is booming. The big questions are: Why, how, and what does this mean?