McKinsey recently published a study on Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy in which the predict the economic impact of a number of disruptive technologies by 2025. A surprising technology – Automation of Knowledge Work – is right at the top with $5-7 trillion impact across a wide range of industry sectors. They estimate in 2012 there are 230 million knowledge workers in the world, and they expect it to grow. Here is how they define the Knowledge Work Automation :
We define knowledge work automation as the use of computers to perform tasks that rely on complex analyses, subtle judgments, and creative problem solving. […] These capabilities not only extend computing into new realms (for example, the ability to “learn” and make basic judgments), but also create new relationships between knowledge workers and machines. It is increasingly possible to interact with a machine the way one would with a coworker. So, instead of assigning a team member to pull all the information on the performance of a certain product in a specific market or waiting for such a request to be turned into a job for the IT department, a manager or executive could simply ask a computer to provide the information. This has the potential to provide more timely access to information and raise the quality and pace of decision making and, consequently, performance.
McKinsey include a number of technologies in this area, including artificial intelligence. Knowledge processing is obviously directly applicable in Automation of Knowledge Work, and it is encouraging to see the enormous economic impact McKinsey put on this trend. Should be very good for us and our customers.