NASHVILLE – Will a robot be doing your job one day?
Written by: Erin Whitaker | Posted Aug 4, 2017

By Knight Stivender, Alcott Marketing Science
For the Nashville Technology Council

Babson College Professor Tom Davenport – who is the keynote speaker at this year’s Nashville Analytics Summit held Aug. 8-9 at the Omni Hotel – believes the outlook is good that, yes, in fact, a robot will one day perform at least a portion of what you’re currently being paid to do.

“You’re either going to work alongside a machine, or do something that a machine can’t do,” Davenport said in an interview with the Nashville Technology Council, host of the Analytics Summit.

The amount of available data collected and applied has made it possible for businesses to automate processes and predict the relevant behaviors, whether they be from consumers, employees, patients (in a healthcare environment), voters (in a political one) – you get the idea.

It’s what data scientists and business analysts mean when they talk about “machine learning”, and it’s why Professor Davenport will be talking about robots taking over your job when he delivers his keynote on Day 2 of the Summit.

“You have to decide which of (two) approaches you’re going to take,” Davenport said. “Do you want your career to be working closely with machines … or do you want to focus on things that aren’t very feasible for machines to do … such as jobs that involve a high level of creativity or empathy or jobs that are extremely unstructured: jobs that humans would prefer to deal with other humans about.”

Davenport is among more than 50 speakers who will share their expert knowledge through workshops and presentations at this year’s Analytics Summit, the fifth annual for the Nashville Technology Council, and the premiere analytics event in the region.

Speakers will talk about everything from using data to measure workplace performance and make hiring decisions, using data to build automated workflows, using data to lower production costs, and how to encourage organizations to become data-centric in their decision making.

The sessions will be practical and hands-on, packed with insights and – whenever possible – delivered in a workshop style that allows participants to learn in real time.

Expect Davenport’s speech to look at the big picture and focus on data as it pertains to automation and the future of employment. He talk about ongoing changes for the workforce, but the best-selling author of “Only Humans Need Apply” and “Competing on Analytics” will also articulate break-evens on the case for automation.

“Total automation is not a great business strategy,” Davenport noted. “If you automate, your competitors will too. If will lower your costs, their costs, and everyone’s margins will lower. It will become difficult to create highly innovate goods and services. If a lot of people are put out of work, they can’t buy your products and services, and that’s not good for the economy.”

Of relevance in Music CIty, Davenport may in his keynote touch on the application of machine learning and automation when it comes to the arts. Machines, as any consumer of Netflix, Amazon and Spotify knows, are increasingly able to identify from past behavior what people what to watch, read, and hear.

“It may be that human consumers of music would ultimately rather pay for things created by humans,” Davenport said. “But it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for Nashville area companies to focus on the machine part of the endeavor so that they’re covered in either instance.”

Good advice for artists and scientists alike.

Find out more about the Analytics Summit, including the full speaker lineup and registration, at https://technologycouncil.com/events/the-2017-nashville-analytics-summit/.