45% jobs done by humans will be computerized by 2033

by Sohini Bagchi    Sep 18, 2013


Automation has changed our jobs and livelihood phenomenally, and its impact will be felt in greater intensity in the coming years. In a recent research paper titled: “The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerization?” researchers at University of Oxford’s James Martin school, Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey & Michael A. Osborne warn that 45% jobs currently done by humans will be computerized in the next 20 years — including IT and engineering jobs.

The researchers believe this takeover will happen in two stages. First, computers will start replacing people in especially vulnerable fields like BPOs, transportation/logistics, production labor, and administrative support. Jobs in services, sales, and construction may also be lost in this first stage.

Thereafter, the rate of replacement will slow down due to bottlenecks in harder-to-automate fields such engineering. This “technological plateau” will be followed by a second wave of computerization, dependent upon the development of good artificial intelligence. This could next put jobs in management, science and engineering, and the arts at high risk.

Automation to transform BPM

The dependence of computerization and automation is already being observed in the business process management (BPM) industry. The creation of the blonde humanoid Eliza by Chetan Dube, the former New York University assistant professor and founder of IPsoft Inc. has already triggered much sensation in the world of technology. Eliza can answer upto 1 lakh emails, and 67,000 phone calls daily, besides handling back office work, interpreting voice inputs to investigating diverse IT sequences.

Earlier IBM’s Watson that defeated humans in the game of Jeopardy, created waves in the industry. According to IBM, “The goal is to have computers start to interact in natural human terms across a range of applications and processes, understanding the questions that humans ask and providing answers that humans can understand and justify.”

Automation is changing the way IT and BPM services are being delivered across the world and India’s $20 billion BPM industry is also riding the wave. It is increasingly deploying some form of automation system to streamline its processes. Infosys BPO, for instance, has implemented automation solutions even across processes from payroll to accounts payable, as well as master data management and e-discovery. 

“As the BPM industry is moving towards a transaction and outcome-based price models, there is a need for greater automation. This in turn will transform the way BPM companies cater to their customers in the coming days,” Anantha Radhakrishnan, global head of enterprise services, transformation and technology services in Infosys BPO tells CXOtoday.

Osborne too states in the research that the rate of computerization will continue to depend on factors, including regulation of new technology and access to cheap labor, and even though the impact will be felt in the US market at first, computerization will directly affect jobs and work policies across business segments and geographies.