Automation and AI- is your job next?


Monthly Archives: December 2016

Automation and AI- is your job next?

The DMZ brought together some leading minds to discuss the economic and social implications of automation. The fifth installment of #DMZSession titled Robot Revolution included panelists Sean Mullin, the executive director of the Brookfield Institute, Krista Jones, head of work and learning at MaRS Discovery District, and Kavaskar Thiya, the founder of Nikola Labs. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Stephanie Walsh, an associate professor at Ryerson University who’s currently leading a research consortium on robotics and autism spectrum disorder.

Here’s what you missed:

The societal impacts of automation are real

Krista: “I see the inevitability of software automation occurring in all industries around the world. I don’t see an area that’s not being impacted in the short term… I get most concerned as a citizen about those who don’t have access to incremental training or who aren’t able to keep up with the devices that we’re using. I see us creating a wider divide between the haves and the have-nots.”

Sean: “42 per cent of jobs are at high risk of being automated over the next 20 years… Low levels of university attainment, for example, are correlated with these high-risk jobs. There are already less high paying jobs and they tend to be much more routine oriented.”

There’s lots we can do to prepare ourselve

Sean: “If you look at the types of competencies that are going to promote success in the workforce under these types of changes, they’re things like creativity, critical thinking, judgment, cognitive ability, and the ability to interact with people. We’re going to need to create a package of things like a strong social safety net, early retirements, and rapid retraining.”

Kavaskar: “Look into programming as a new skill to double up on. I think it’s crucial for everyone to learn some form of programming, so you understand artificial intelligence better.”

Automation is critical for entrepreneurs

Krista: “Any success with an entrepreneur has to be twofold: It has to actually solve a problem for the customer that it’s solving for and it has to be able to create a workplace that makes money… And automation is essential for both. We as people have fundamentally changed and there’s just an expectation that products and services we use … that has an element of automation built in.”

The onus is on us to educate ourselves and be ready

Kavaskar: “You don’t have to depend on a school and you don’t have to wait for curriculum to catch up. You can go online and learn anything you want on YouTube. We definitely have to put it on ourselves to be ready for [imminent changes in] the workforce.”

Krista: “This transition has to be owned in the next 10 to 15 years by the individual, because we won’t be able to change bureaucratic systems fast enough to keep up with the change that’s happening in the world.”

Sean: “Where I think institutions, like universities and others, will have to look back at things that are actually going to be intel to you from the effect of automation, and that’s hands-on experience, creativity, experiential learning and problem solving.”

How do we protect ourselves from automation?

Sean: “ Going forward, we have to collectively take a look at our social safety nets specifically and also the social fabrics of how we perceive work and jobs in the future.”

Krista: “I’m going to take it to a more human level. Once a month, take somebody who is afraid of technology and automation, talk to them, make them comfortable about it. Help bridge that gap because there’s a large percentage of people who are terrified of change.”

Kavaskar: “Education and awareness. Media has a big role to play in teaching people what machine learning is and what artificial intelligence is.”

How do I… measure my PR to determine my ROI?

How do you track and measure your PR activities?

Depends on who you ask. Unfortunately, there isn’t one overarching PR measurement tool to help you track whether what you’re doing is working. Depending on your business, your PR strategy, and your PR goals, how you measure your outcomes can vary.

Below are some basic ways to align your sales with your PR strategy.

Make use of Google Analytics

Are you familiar with Google Analytics? If not, then get on it! Google Analytics can help your business understand the behaviour flow of your target audience, especially after your media feature is published. Set up conversion goals to track where your traffic is coming from – blog, social media, media placements. Google Analytics can also help your startup gauge what messaging appeals most to your target market. Ask yourself, does the audience I’m tracking have clear needs? Is the messaging in our published feature meeting those needs? Answering these questions will help you understand how to leverage your media wins in order to see impact.

Track your website visitors

After an interview or feature with a top-tier media platform gets published, many startups tend to jump on their social media to see who’s sharing or talking about their most recent media win. While it’s important to know this information, don’t neglect your website analytics. Tracking the volume of visitors after a published piece has appeared is an easy way to see how much traction your media win generated and whether your messaging is having an impact.

Don’t forget to update the press/blog page of your website and your social media platforms to reflect the recent media interest in your startup.

Keep a pulse on the trends

Many startups pull major PR efforts for the launch of their business, new product or service. Although the timeframe of your startup’s goals is important, so is the seasonality in your business cycle. Make sure your PR campaign is timed with the market you’re addressing. For example, if you’re the founder of a startup that supports the learning process for students, your PR campaign will see a higher ROI during the back-to-school season. If your company addresses a current concern that’s being widely covered by the media, go out with a PR strategy and pitch a team member as an expert on this topic, while providing clear messaging on how your startup is the solution for this growing public concern.

Keep your story alive

Successful coverage doesn’t only depend on which outlet picked up your story, but how well you promote the story to your audience. For example, you land a story with The Globe and Mail and it’s shared through their Twitter account, don’t just retweet their post and consider your job done. Find ways to ride the wave by amplifying it with various marketing initiatives like sharing it through your company’s monthly newsletter, re-promoting it through your social channels weeks and months later and even venturing into paid social advertising. These efforts will continue to generate leads and help you track possible future leads.

Sales and PR can speak the same language. With this information, you can start to analyze how your PR efforts can be better suited towards your business development strategy.

2017- an automated future?

Near the end of every year, predictions are made on what to expect in the coming year when it comes to technology. This year, the conversation has taken a turn to how technology will transform jobs at a pace -and on a scale- never seen before.

Business models are slowly disappearing, and workplace structures are no longer stable. Technology is amplifying the need for a change in the job market. Unfortunately, many people are in careers that may soon become obsolete.

But can automation create more jobs? Will it help improve sectors like education and finance? And is society ready for the social and economic implications of artificial intelligence? This is what my next piece in the Huffington Post focuses on- finding ways to work with technology to stay ahead of the curve. Read about it here.

Meet two Toronto startups that are defining autotech

Rover Parking matches drivers with the perfect parking space at a fraction of the cost of traditional lots. Launched in August 2015, Rover operates through a mobile app similar to Uber that flags unused driveway space that drivers can book for as little as two dollars an hour. Since joining the sharing economy bandwagon, Rover is often referred to as the Airbnb of parking

The idea of a cheap and convenient parking app came from the grief of co-founder Grant Brigden’s daily commute,

“One day I was walking to the subway and I saw a meter cop ticketing a car, but in my peripherals I could see dozens of empty driveways, said Brigden. “It was crystal clear that there was a better, more convenient way for people to park, without having to worry about tickets.”

Anyone with an unused driveway space can register it on Rover. It then appears on a mobile map and is matched to drivers with nearby destinations. Although Rover’s mandate is to make parking convenient and affordable, they also aim to change commuters’ perspective on mobility as a whole. “We’re looking at mobility in a bigger way. Now people can park where congestion starts and take uberPOOL or get a bikeshare for the last mile of their commute. By disrupting the parking industry, the whole concept of mobility changes because we’re offering new, more convenient opportunities.”

Although mobility is the focus, Rover takes prides in being a community brand rooted in sharing and trust. Initiatives like ‘Rover ‘til Sober’ encourages drivers not to get behind the wheel drunk and donates portions of the parking tab to local pet shelters.

Looking for another company that’s getting creative on concrete? Try Fiix, the startup that’s making mechanics mobile by bringing garage services to the comfort of your own home.

Fiix lets you select the repairs you need, the time and place you need them, and delivers a qualified mechanic to your door to perform the task. Fiix aims to turn the industry on its head by eliminating the middleman, ordering parts from the same distributors as auto shops, and charging customers without inflation.

“When we first started with tire changes, we approached it from the customer’s perspective,” said Fiix CEO Arif Bhanji. “Generally, we know people hate going to the mechanic, largely because of three things: inconvenience, price and transparency. Fiix can solve all of that.”

As opposed to the typical auto repair model, car owners can watch their cars get fixed, ask questions and build a rapport with the mechanic working on their vehicles, offering complete transparency.

In the short eight months they’ve been in operation, the team at Fiix has grown from one to 15 mechanics. The company plans to continue expansion as demand continues to rise.

With the winter months upon us, whether you’re looking to get your tires changed or find a hack to cut down your lengthy commute, Fiix and Rover have got you covered.

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