May 16, 2022

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Digital transformation series: If you want a job done right…

Just about everybody would finish the title by saying “do it yourself” and many have been to enough motivation speaking sessions to hear that that is the wrong approach, you should find the right person and delegate it to them. That’s great. But what if the right person isn’t a person? What if the best way to get something done is to automate it? Can you get out of your own way long enough to get the job done right?

Howard M. Cohen
AUTHOR: Howard M. Cohen

It’s Management 101. Finish this sentence: If you want a job done right…

The answer used to be “do it yourself,” but that became old news years ago. The new answer has long been, “find the right person to delegate it to.”

But here we are in 2022 and, let’s face it, that answer has changed to: “Find the right resource to get it done.” And we are free to define “resource” however we’d like.

Defining “resource”

You’re still absolutely free to define the “right resource” as a person. There are still plenty of higher-order tasks that can only be handled by people. That’s not likely to ever change.

But now you have another choice: technology!

You may have a document-processing task like collating or categorizing. You can turn to robotic process automation (RPA) to physically ingest the documents and send them into a scanner. Then the scanner can digitize the information on each page. Next, a machine learning (ML) system evaluates each document working with artificial intelligence (AI) to determine where the data should go, or what should be done with it next.

You could have people do all that, but why? If a system can do more of it faster and with fewer errors, why not assign those people to more rewarding work? Collating is boring!

If a system can do more of it faster and with fewer errors,
why not assign those people to more rewarding work?

Toll collectors in toll booths are no longer collecting tolls on roads or bridges. Instead, a scanning system seeks a “tag” device, reads it, charges the toll to its account, and the driver never even slows down. If there’s no tag or a defective or dead one, the system photographs the car at just the right angle to capture the license plate and the face of the driver. And the reality is that this is saving the lives of those toll collectors who spent every day breathing in the harmful fumes from thousands of cars.

Self-check-out at the supermarket, interactive voice response (IVR) answer phones and distributing calls, Industrial control systems (ICS) monitoring, adjusting, and shutting down heat, cooling, and lights in buildings based on occupancy, weather, comfort standards, and cost-saving opportunities. These are all very public examples of technology replacing people as the right resource to accomplish things faster, more precisely, and without errors. It’s all good!

So, what are we afraid of?

We’re afraid of being replaced, rendered obsolete. We all understand that computers are faster than we are, and they obey commands and seldom make mistakes. This is not new!

In October 2016, researchers and engineers at what is today known as Microsoft Artificial Intelligence and Research exceeded expectations with the announcement of “a major breakthrough in speech recognition, creating a technology that recognizes the words in a conversation as well as a person does. They reported a speech recognition system that makes the same or fewer errors than professional transcriptionists. The researchers reported a word error rate (WER) of 5.9 percent, down from the 6.3 percent WER the team reported just last month.” Many of us use these regularly today as online services!

“We’ve reached human parity,” said Xuedong Huang, the company’s chief speech scientist. “This is an historic achievement.”

That phrase, “human parity,” strikes fear into the hearts
of some of the world’s foremost scientists and futurists

That phrase, “human parity,” strikes fear into the hearts of some of the world’s foremost scientists and futurists, who refer to the moment that the intelligence of machines exceeds that of humans as “the singularity.”

Lest you consider this to be a science-fiction reference, the geniuses involved include:

Bill Gates, said, during a Q&A session on Reddit in January 2015, “I am in the camp that is concerned about superintelligence. First, the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.”

Elon Musk, feared aloud that he would “Hope we’re not just the biological boot loader for digital superintelligence. Unfortunately, that is increasingly probable.”

Stephen Hawking warned that because people would be unable to compete with an advanced AI, it “could spell the end of the human race.”

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The challenge to us

Heeding the concerns of leading minds like Gates, Musk, and Hawking, technologists who pursue this burgeoning world of new possibilities, should certainly work to help us avoid “the rise of the machines” of Terminator fame. But the opportunities to accelerate and improve the ways in which we work with information are simply too exciting to pass up.

To remain relevant and valuable in this AI/ML world we must elevate ourselves.

To remain relevant and valuable in this AI/ML world we must elevate ourselves. We must look at what we do now, what we want to do next, and how we want to wield these digital tools to help us do better and be better. Perhaps we need to focus less on digital transformation and instead plan for digital transition!

Tell us your thoughts on the future of AI for MSPs or singularity. Your peers would love to hear from you in the Modern MSP Facebook Group.

About the author

Senior Resultant Howard M. Cohen is a 35+ year executive veteran of the Information Technology industry, an authorized CompTIA instructor, and a regular contributor to many IT industry publications. After 35 years as an IT industry executive, Howard has been writing for and about the channel since 2009.

He has served on many vendor advisory panels including the Apple, Compaq, HP, IBM, and NEC Service Advisory Councils. He has also served on the Ingram Micro Service Network board and as a U.S. Board member of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners.

Howard is a well-known frequent speaker at IT industry events including Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (now Inspire), Citrix Synergy/Summit, ConnectWise IT Nation, ChannelPro Forums, Cloud Partners Summit, MicroCorp One-On-One, and CompTIA ChannelCon.

Howard refers to himself as a “Senior Resultant” because he has always understood that we are all measured only by our results. Connect with Howard at hmc@hmcwritenow.com and review his portfolio at www.authory.com/howardmcohen.

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