The robots are coming for your jobs, says Thandeka Zondi

As technology evolves, more and more businesses are digitising, meaning that jobs which were previously done by humans are now being done by machines. Speaking at Finance Indaba Africa on 13 October, Thandeka Zondi, director of strategy and business development at SekelaXabiso, said that because of growing innovation in the digital world, companies and individuals will have to redefine their purpose and decide whether certain jobs are still needed.

Thandeka warned that companies would have to become more innovative to survive. She urged corporate and emerging entrepreneurs to provide solutions to clients rather than being a body that exists to give redundant advice. She drew on Kodak as an example of a company that has taken a dive as a result of technology. For instance, before the introduction of the smartphone people used to use Kodak to take pictures and print them. But these days, people hardly print their photos, instead, keeping them on their smartphones, laptops or online. As a result, Kodak has lost out on business which inadvertently means people lost their jobs.

"The robots are coming for your jobs, we don't imagine it affecting us but it's happening," she said. Thandeka explained that this is largely happening because robotics can get through the data that we don't have time for - and quicker, too - so it is easier for some companies to use technology instead of people. Robots could, in future, do part of our job or all of it, she added.

To avoid massive job cuts and a sky-rocketing unemployment rate, Thandeka suggests that companies and government look at how they're structuring and growing their skill set. "If you are training someone to provide stationery, you're actually grooming them to die because no one uses a pen and paper anymore," she said. "Although we can't avoid digitising and industry 4.0, if we just allow robotics to take over there will be massive unemployment, so we have to groom people in jobs that will matter in the future."