Technology has always been a crucial driver of change in human history; the invention of the wheel, the steam engine, or the internet. Robotics and automation technologies will definitely be seen as a game-changer, even if the extent of change brought about is still to come. While robots have been used in industrial processes since the 1970s, the ubiquitous economical and social changes are only beginning to occur now. There are reasons for the lag in implementation:
Automation technology utilizing industrial robots has been expensive and separate from the human workforce primarily for worker safety. Collaborative robotics makes automation technology affordable for small and medium-sized enterprises and is working alongside or with people. The same thing is concurrently happening in other fields of automation technology; like AI, Big Data, or service robotics.
The familiar image of industrial robots has them working in large depopulated factories. Now more people are actually getting in touch with them at work daily. However; as automation equally affects the technical, financial, and social aspects of a business, a holistic & strategic approach is necessary when implementing these new technologies into business processes.
The rise of the CTO
Most companies handle technical aspects, including automation, under the responsibility of their Chief Technical Officer (CTO). Although the future role of a CTO will probably not lose relevance, it is to be seen whether a sole focus on technical aspects is suitable in view of technologies that have a broader impact. Automation can be an enabler for the creation of new positions within companies and new business models for external service providers. For example; the role of the Chief Robotics Officer (CRO) will rise in importance: A Myria Research study expects over 60 percent of the Global1000 businesses having a CRO in their staff by 2025.