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Platform Plugins

Replaced workers, distributed organizations

In this working world, AI, machine learning, and data capture and analysis tools have become so reliable that they enable businesses to drastically downsize their permanent human workforce

REPORT | 3m read
October 27, 2020

In this working world, AI, machine learning, and data capture and analysis tools have become so reliable that they enable businesses to drastically downsize their permanent human workforce. Administrative assistant, accountant, cashier, customer service representative and data entry roles have been automated and eliminated. However, people can still perform some roles much better than technology. Hairdressers, physical therapists, health aides and interior decorators have retained their jobs. In fact, these sectors have seen substantial growth, as changing demographics and rising stress levels have increased demand.

Also in high demand are technology specialists who help build, optimize, maintain and manage AI, usually working on a freelance basis. This has the potential to level the playing field for small businesses, which can compete against their larger rivals thanks to AI and the inherent scalability of the platform model—an online business that allows two or more independent groups, usually consumers and products or services, to interact.

Meanwhile, within companies and society at large, lines will have to be drawn and then redefined around digital privacy and security.

A closer look

It used to be that only the largest companies could take advantage of AI, since they were the only ones able to gather the necessary amounts of data, but big companies no longer own this advantage. Now intermediaries collect data and rent it out, meaning that SMEs can use AI-derived insights for their own practices. Many consumers opt in to use the service that specifically addresses their needs, and this means that small companies take considerable market share from larger firms.

SMEs are also assisted by the increased efficiency of global supply chains and a significant drop in the cost of shipping goods, thanks to a streamlined, blockchain-powered logistics industry. However, the need to physically move goods around the world has also fallen, as the rise of 3-D printing has enabled many manufacturers to make their products close to their consumer base.

As roles have been replaced by technology, mass unemployment has not come to pass, but gig working and freelancing are much more common ways of working. Workplace benefits and pension schemes are very limited, as roles are replaced and fewer people have permanent employment.

Today’s take

This is the future most likely to be predicted by employees in our study.

Two-thirds of respondents agreed that by 2035, the highest-growth companies will be run on a platform model. And 63% of respondents said that technology would confer an advantage to small companies, fragmenting each sector across a large number of niche specialist companies.

Furthermore, 67% of both business leaders and employees felt that technology and AI have the power to improve workers’ mental health and wellbeing by removing repetitive tasks and enabling them to focus on meaningful work.

Overall, the Platform Plugins world is one that employees foresee, while business leaders do not.

None of the business leaders questioned believe that more than 50% of job roles within their business would be replaced by technology or AI by 2035. And yet, 34% of employees believe this would be the case. And though 60% of employees think that by 2035 permanent employees will become rare, only 18% of business leaders believe this.

Most employees fear that secure, permanent roles may soon become a thing of the past. Business leaders differ. Instead, they remain confident that permanent employment will persist.

Next world
of work

Automation corporations: Replaced workers, centralized organizations

Coming November 2020

2/3

of respondents believe that by 2035, the highest-growth companies will be run on a platform model.

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