How will Home Automation impact the job markets?

home_automation_impact-on-jobs

Smartphones are ubiquitous today. It is just a matter of time that our homes will become Smart too. Manufacturers in the US markets have already brought out products which can be controlled from the phones. Estimates show that 25-30 crore houses are being used for residential purposes in India now. While a large number of his dwellings are in the villages, we have now more than 22 crores people using a smartphone. So, the day is not far when each home will have at least one smartphone!

One Smartphone per home!

Smart Home ecosystem is still under development. Though current practices could be limited to accessing systems related to lighting, air-conditioning, geysers, television, music etc, it is just a matter of time that our homes will have devices that will use significant amount of robotics and artificial intelligence. Washing machines, refrigerators, Television sets, set-top boxes, water purifiers, stoves, ovens, floor cleaners, bulbs, locks, chargers, multimedia stations, cars and many other devices at home will be inter-connected and operable from a smartphone. So, we can easily track the health of various equipment, take early action as desired. We can monitor safety of our family members and physical assets remotely. Soon enough, there will be many other sensors and transmitters connected with household items that could run certain functions on an auto-pilot manner.

Imagine telling your digital assistant on the phone that you will reach home with 4 guests in 2 hours and your assistant gets into action. It keeps your home ready at the right temperature, illumination and odour to receive your guests; orders food and drinks for delivery in thirty minutes from your arrival! May be, your Smart assistant can play welcome messages for your guests and keep a playlist ready depending upon who the guests are! Many of these were limited to sci-fi but these will very soon be commonplace across all economic strata of our  society like a Smartphone is!

What jobs?

Naturally, there is a lot of IT in everything that people do! It does not matter what your employer company sells – fans, carpets, shoes, shirts, music, cakes, burgers, gym equipment, travel, hospitality, healthcare or IT. All these products will be found in a home and with automation, every company will need use a lot of technology and information. You must be comfortable using both to learn continuously and excel in your role.

Given  the speed at which changes are happening around us, it is imperative that organizations will seek flexibility in everything that they do. Instead of locking a lot of assets in their operations, they will outsource anything that is routine, leverage on the expertise of the others, reduce fixed costs as much as possible and seek to achieve efficiencies as much as possible in the matters of routine. So, organizations will remain agile in responding to changes in their industry, consumer preferences, technology, government policies and so on.

The roles which do not shape the strategic focus of the organization will either be on a fixed term employment or on an outsourced basis. It is a no-brainer to understand that the strategic roles in an organization will be a handful; these roles demand high levels of experience and insight; involve making strategic choices which are long-term and costly; both risks and rewards are high in this.

Some transformation!

And the roles which get outsourced will be large in number; drivers of efficiency. Risks and rewards for such roles will be comparatively low. Given the fact that many of our homes and professions are going to see automation, traditional blue-collar jobs in the factory and the fields will reduce. We have already seen how manufacturing industry and many other large-scale enterprises have become a lot dependent on machines whereas small-scale enterprises, artisans and craftsmen relied heavily on skill level and experience of individual workman. So, our economy will become a lot more driven by services. We can see how food business is getting transformed to food-tech, banking to fin-tech, education to ed-tech, agri-inputs to agri-tech and so on. Given the services-orientation getting stronger, one has to be able to listen to what the customer says, empathise and observe how a customer behaves. This is a significantly different attribute than what a typical blue-collar job entails.

Secondly, as homes become Smart, there will be huge number of jobs related to instrumentation, networking, electronic manufacturing, warehousing, delivery, customer support and technical assistance.

Today’s cars have at least 20% of their cost towards the on-board electronics. Similarly, our future homes will have at least 35% of their cost towards the on-board electronics in them! Imagine the number of jobs which will get generated to design, manufacture, install and maintain them! Like e-commerce has taken birth, our lifestyle and consumption behaviours have transformed and many jobs have sprung up due to the advent of smartphones, a whole new services economy will take birth due to the eco-system of these instruments in our Smart Homes!

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