How Do You Tame A Rapidly Advancing Robot?
Friday, March 10th, 2017
The answer can be surprisingly civilised – if you follow the advice of Holyrood PR Edinburgh
PRAISING an insurance company and introducing the very real impact of automation may seem a strange start to a post – but stick with it, the following WILL affect your business in a huge way.
Artificial intelligence (AI) – and the accelerating rate of technological progress is now undoubtedly set to transform businesses across the globe.
AI – and the very nature of a technology that can learn and adapt, means that put simply, all human process jobs are subject to be replaced or diminished significantly by technology – that includes accountancy, banking, admin, financial advisors and even insurers.
These aren’t our words – it is the opinion of the leading names at the Bank of England – who claim 15 million jobs UK are subject to automation in the not too distant future.
Seem a little dystopian?
Without risk of sounding like a Judge Dredd comic book, the robots and AI have already moved in, cutting frontline jobs at McDonalds, in supermarkets (self-service checkouts) and throughout the world of manufacturing.
The rate of technological advancements means that the wholesale revolution isn’t in the dim and distant future, it is happening, and your business, regardless of its size will be affected – if not directly, then certainly indirectly throughout its supply chain or customer base.
Kudos to Aviva – a comprehensive approach could pay out
This brings about a problem. For organisations to compete, a vast number are going to have to adopt AI technologies in the coming years to – with job losses an inevitability.
This brings us to good proactive work by an insurance company – a sector not often thought of in glowing terms. Yet the team here at Holyrood PR were impressed with a recent story and the resulting coverage from Aviva, telling how it had canvassed all 16,000 staff if they felt that their jobs could be replaced by automation.
It claimed, that all those who responded ‘yes’ (rather than be handed their P45s) would be offered the opportunity to re-train, for a new role within the company.
A nice idea and some good resulting publicity for the firm too, we’ll certainly be keeping an eye out to see if they make use of employee generated videos, or follow up stories to learn of the progress of those that ticked the ‘yes’ box.
The big lesson for an SME to take from this, is that Aviva is bringing the topic of automation to the table comparatively early, knowing that there will be redundancies down the line.
The key for the blue chip firm now is that it sticks unwaveringly to this track. A u-turn on this pledge would be particularly embarrassing – and would compound negative PR, resulting from a widescale loss of jobs to automation.
Having to shed jobs, make redundancies and close up shop is one of the most difficult aspects of running a business. Inevitably it will draw the interest of the press, and depending on the scale, could make for major news.
You’ll want to make sure your communication is careful, clear, informative and respectful – while supporting the running of the wider business and giving clarity and confidence to your remaining workforce.
Not only that, if your business has built up a stellar reputation, by being open and consistent with positive media coverage, you will stand the best chance of maintaining a good reputation when difficult decisions have to be made.
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Without much doubt, the best weapon at hand to help a business tame a robot? Words.
The right words, told at the right time, to the right people.
Quite handily, it just happens to be exactly what we already specialise in – digging out stories at the heart of businesses, telling them to the right audiences to make them more profitable along with a happier workplace.
Why we won’t make a drama out of a crisis, by keeping calm in a PR storm. Read two accounts, from Holyrooders at different stages of their respective careers, on how they helped Scottish Water communicate a potentially major crisis
Prepare for the march of the robots – with Holyrood PR Edinburgh by your side
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Chris Fairbairn is a PR account manager with award-winning public relations agency Holyrood Partnership. He is part of an expert PR team delivering PR services to a wide range of clients from headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.View Chris's Profile
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