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Computers could redesign almost two-thirds
Preliminary research from global management consultant McKinsey
suggests that 45 per cent of work activities could be automated using
existing technologies, and another 13 per cent could be replaced by
computers, if technologies that understand and process language
reach the median level of human performance.
‘It’s no longer the case that only routine, codifable activities are
candidates for automation, and that activities requiring “tacit”
knowledge or experience that is difcult to translate into task
specifcations are immune to automation,’ said Michael Chui, James
Manyika and Mehdi Miremadi in the latest McKinsey Quarterly.
About 60 per cent of jobs could have 30 per cent or more of their
activities automated, the authors predict. These jobs cannot be
fully automated by existing technology, but a large proportion of
them could be done by computer.
For example, technology could diagnose more health problems
in emergency medical rooms, helping doctors to focus on the
most acute or unusual cases. Or technology could help sales staf
to identify the strongest sales
leads, and create more time to
service them. Automation could
help fnancial advisers to spend
more time with clients, as technology
performs more routine tasks, such as
Automation, the authors predict, will afect even the highest-
paid specialist occupations. ‘Our work to date suggests that a
signifcant percentage of the activities performed by even those
in the highest-paid occupations (for example, fnancial planners,
physicians and senior executives) can be automated by adapting
The good news is that automation will help workers to spend
a greater amount of time on creativity and sensing emotions
– two functions that are hard for computers to replace – and
have a more meaningful work life. Only four per cent of work
activities across the United States required creativity at a
median level of human performance, and 29 per cent of work
activities required a median human level of performance in
It's not how much you spend on R&D, but
how you spend it
It’s also where you spend it that determines success – and that is
increasingly in China and India.
Global investment in research and development (R&D) has
had its strongest increase in three years, and more R&D is
conducted in Asia than in North America or Europe, the 2015
Global Innovation 1000 study has found.
The 1000 public corporations worldwide that spent the most
on R&D increased their investment by 5.1 per cent to
US$680 billion in 2015 – the highest increase in three years,
according to the report by Strategy&, the strategy consulting
arm of PwC.
ering 94 per cent of companies surveyed had
d part of their innovation investment to countries
re their sales and manufacturing were growing
est. For example, more United States and
opean companies were conducting a bigger part of
heir R&D programs in China and India, to better
understand local needs and to access local talent.
Companies headquartered in China increased their R&D
spending by 31.6 per cent in 2015 – a sixfold increase on the
global average, the study found. In contrast, Japanese companies
in the Global Innovation 1000 study decreased R&D spending
by 6.3 per cent. Over the past decade, Chinese companies have
increased their R&D investment by more than 3000 per cent.
Software and internet frms had a 27.4 per cent increase in
R&D spending in 2015 – or more than four times greater than
The study found that a global innovation strategy led to higher
frm performance. Firms that favoured a more global R&D
footprint outperformed their less globalised competitors on a
variety of fnancial measures, according to Strategy&.
The study says: ‘This is important, because, as in previous
years, we found no statistically signifcant evidence that higher
levels of spending guarantee better results. Our refrain has
long been that it’s not how much you spend on research and
development, but how you spend it. But it’s also where you
spend it that determines your success – and our 2015 study
shows that decisions about R&D location look very diferent
today [to what] they did less than a decade ago’.
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