Data Tells the True Story of Robotic Technology

effectiveness of robotic technology

The Green Party recently came out with a new call to reduce the work week from five days to four without penalising workers. Party leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley are leading the charge under the assumption that robots and additional human hires can make up for the lost productivity a four-day work week would produce. But is the Green Party proposal reasonable? Data can provide the answer.

A competent business data analyst can look at raw numbers and trends to figure out what is working, and what is not. Given the accuracy of data and analysis and prediction in the digital age, it seems that the question of the four-day work week is better left to data-driven analysis than to politics. One need look only at past predictions to understand the concept.

Predictions from as far back as the 1930s suggested that technology would significantly reduce the UK work week by the turn of the 21st century. Well-known economist John Maynard Keynes was expecting a 15-hour work week by this time. Winston Churchill predicted a four-day work week back in the 1950s, while France's Andre Gorz predicted in 1994 that workers would be reduced to just two days at work – with pay rises intact – by 2001.

None of the past predictions has come true. They are not likely to either unless science eventually reaches a point of developing artificial intelligence that can go toe-to-toe with the human brain. And since artificial intelligence has to be programmed by human beings, such a scenario is highly unlikely.

Using Technology in Business

Everything I've written up to this point is to bring us to the question of whether robotic technology is good for a business or not. Again, the answer is found in data. A proper analysis of multiple sets of data helps determine whether technology increases profit, reduces inefficiency, and otherwise helps the bottom line without violating a company's social responsibilities.

The amount of data required to determine the effectiveness of robotic technology is fairly significant. In other words, it is not a simple matter of measuring how much workers are paid versus the cost of purchasing and maintaining robots, then choosing the one that costs less.

Companies have to look at whether robots can actually get the job done accurately or not. They need to look at efficiency, safety, data security, adaptability, scalability, and on and on. For a business data analyst, it's about looking at present capability and its potential for the future.

When GM became the first company to employ robots on a large scale, they created a wave of uncertainty throughout the car industry about the future of human workers. Robots certainly have made the industry more efficient and productive, but GM and its counterparts still employ millions of people around the world.

Should we reduce the work week from five days to four? That is a question best answered by the business data analyst, not politicians.


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Author: Chris Scanlon

Hullo.  I'm a graduate chartered accountant with 25 years experience in blue chip businesses and the last 15 years in owner manged businesses.  My particular skill is turning data into information. Bringing the performance management of the business alive so that ...