Navigo Blog

Is your job in danger of being automated? (pt. 2)

Written by Peter

Peter is Navigo's founder and Managing Director. Peter is passionate about building and running businesses, finding solutions to business process problems and new trends in HR Technology.

September 13, 2016

Continuing on from pt. 1, we’re looking at 10 roles and assessing how much of a risk automation poses for future employment.

Let’s jump into our next 5:


Human interaction: High

Creativity: Low

Physical Dexterity and mobility required: Low

Management is a role dedicated to getting the most out of people. However, many traditional management functions have been streamlined over the last few years, and many processes can be automated like performance reviews, dispute resolution and workplace culture management.

Managers do not need to be creative to be successful in their roles, though they may well manage people in creative roles. Depending on the organisation, particularly with the rise in telecommuting and freelance work, it’s become far less important to be physically close to employees to effectively manage them, though certain supervisory management roles still require someone on site at all times.

Risk of being automated?

For traditional middle managers who are focussed on managing teams and general reporting tasks, automation presents a high risk to your job security.

The managers who are in roles that still need the human element, who are great at getting the most out of people based on personal relationships are the ones who will thrive in our automated future. It’s probably worth getting used to working with freelance teams and those in different timezones and cultures too, as we’re seeing more and more project teams being hired in favour of permanent internal teams.


bebe-827779_960_720Customer Service

Human interaction: High

Creativity: Low

Physical Dexterity and mobility required: Very Low

Customer Service is a very broad category, so we’re going to based our example on those whose role involves serving many customers on a day to day basis, like a cashier at a supermarket, a telephone customer service representative or a hospitality worker.

This role is all centred around interaction with customers, but at the same time, many of these interactions don’t actually require two-way communication. For example, self-service checkouts, support and food-ordering services are already here in a big way.

Customer Service is traditionally very process-based, which leaves little room for creativity in most cases. The clear exceptions are those assisting customers with products or services that require creative thinking. Many technical support specialists, for example, need to a bit of creativity to be able to come up with solutions to customer problems when the standard processes aren’t adequate.

More and more, we’re seeing that customer service can really be located anywhere in the world for many businesses. It’s become common practice to place customer service call centres in Manilla or India due to their comparatively low cost of labour and favourable timezones.

Risk of being automated?

It’s no longer a risk – Customer Service roles are ALREADY being automated. For those still working in a Customer Service role, automation therefore presents a Very High risk to your future employment.

Customer Service roles that require highly customised, specialist interaction will likely be safer career choices in the future, as they will be much harder to automate than Customer Service for more commoditised products and services.

This is a very big area of automation, so you could also consider developing automation scripts, processes and programs for Customer Service based on your expert knowledge and experience.



Human interaction: Very Low

Creativity: Very High

Physical Dexterity and mobility required: Very Low


Marketing roles can be found in advertising, branding, messaging, positioning or strategy. Many of the more basic tasks of marketing have been automated through the use of marketing automation software, which can give better, more accurate data than traditional marketers can.

The creative aspect, whether it’s in writing, design or positioning a product or service, are much harder to automate. This is the key area where marketers need to excel to succeed today.

Digital marketing is the biggest growing area of marketing, which removes the need for any physical human interaction or mobility.

Risk of being automated?

Marketing support roles have already been heavily automated, but there is still a low risk of core marketing roles being automated due to their inherent creativity.

However, it’s worth mentioning that many marketing roles are now being passed on to business owners in the SME market. With sites like WordPress and Squarespace bringing web design to non-technical users with a bunch of templates, many roles that were formerly outsourced to marketing teams are now being performed by non-marketing people.

The key is to focus on the roles that create results that non-marketing people are unlikely to achieve without marketing assistance, which again are typically in the more creative aspects of marketing (finding the perfect way to position your product for the market, creating a unique brand and so on).


url-2Teachers & Educators

Human interaction: High

Creativity: Medium

Physical Dexterity and mobility required: Low

Traditionally, teachers work directly with students in a variety of areas, from primary and secondary education right through to online courses, language tutors, sports coaches and more.

The level of human interaction, creativity and physical dexterity do depend on the subject matter being taught (it’s hard to teach music without being creative, for example) but in general, teachers have a high level of human interaction due to their constant contact with students, some creativity to tailor the teaching method to suit the student and not too much need for mobility or dexterity (many teachers can teach remotely now, through webinars, Skype, video or audio recordings).

Education levels are still growing across the world, and it’s becoming easier than ever to connect with teachers in niche subject areas online.

Risk of being automated?

It’s difficult to fully automate education because so many areas of learning require two-way feedback. However, for subject matter that can be taught with simple yes no logic, like mathematics and physics, is at a high risk for automation through the use of online courses, recordings and game-ified learning apps like Duolingo.

Of course, for most other teachers, whilst elements of the education process may become more automated (marking of reports, plagiarism checks etc), there’s still a low risk of education becoming completely automated. The need for human interaction is just too high within out current education infrastructure.

There’s a lot of scope for building automated courses and education materials for teachers and educators who are worried about the future. Condensing your knowledge into an easily shared course can potentially give you a global audience to teach in the future.




Human interaction: Very High

Creativity: Low

Physical Dexterity and mobility required: Low

Now, onto the most important role: HR! Human Resources roles cover everything from recruitment to performance management (and everything in between). There’s often a lot of enterprise negotiating needed in unionised industries and dispute resolution in volatile work environments.

By its very nature, HR roles require human interaction. You’re constantly working with and managing people, which is the core of your role!

In general, you don’t need to be creative or mobile to be in HR (though it’s more important to be physically present than many other office roles), but there is a lot of room to use creativity and problem-solving skills to be a top-level HR Pro.

HR also includes contract and policy management, and, if we’re including Payroll as an HR function, remuneration and leave management.

Risk of being automated?

HR as a function, due to its high degree of human interaction required, has a low risk of being automated. The exception to this is all of the mechanical, process-based aspects of HR that don’t involve people.

For example, HROnboard, our employee onboarding software that helps you manage the new hire and job offer process, automates contract generation and acceptance, which is definitely an HR function. We often find that those who adopt HROnboard end up having far less of a need for a “contract preparer,” so that person usually becomes the one operating HROnboard and using the rest of their time on more exciting, people-based functions.

If you want to guarantee your future in HR, any role that requires regular human contact will be a much safer option than administrative, process-based positions.


We’ve looked at 10 general roles, and the underlying theme is clear:

  • If you can do your job without interacting with anyone, being creative, or physically moving around, your role is at risk
  • Automation presents a bunch of new opportunities in almost every role – there will be new opportunities for those willing to take them
  • Things are moving fast. Getting used to change and learning will definitely help you in the future.

It’s also worth pointing out that even though many of these roles are becoming automated, that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be mass redundancies. With every improvement in technology and process, we see new roles created, new industries popping up and entirely new ways of working becoming mainstream. Your role in 5 years may involve responsibilities and activities that no one is even thinking about today!

What do you think about this analysis? Feel free to describe your role and your assessment in the comments below!


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