Three things happened in the last couple of weeks in India.

  1. Indigo episode.
  2. Ryan school murder case.
  3. IT employees (in Karnataka) can now setup trade union.

For the first 2 items, the final verdict is still not out, but here is what’s common.

The mass is quick to jump to a conclusion. And in both these episodes, it is clear that the mass has lost the patience to listen to the other side. Even give them a chance.

Indigo episode: The entire social media world has taken Indigo to the task over sacking the episode and the whistleblower, without even seeing the entire video.

Ryan school murder case:  The bus conductor has been given a clean chit by CBI – but isn’t it too late? He has already been labeled as a rapist by the world. Do you really think he will get a job? His and the family’s life is devastated – for no wrongdoing of theirs.

We, the society didn’t even give him a chance – but here is what else happened.

We, the society have labeled all school bus conductors and the service class as dangerous for our children. Immediately after the Ryan school incident, parents (in Bangalore) asked schools to tighten the security and NOT allow these dangerous elements inside the school campus.

Do not allow them to use school bathrooms.
Do not allow them to hang around our kids.
Put CCTVs everywhere.
We don’t trust them. They are dangerous for the society.

All bus conductors, blue collar employees are turning out to be dangerous for the society. Not for the employers, but the customers.

And if you are running a business, you would know that a moment of bad reputation is all it takes to bring down the business. You can’t control the perception that the society has on your customer-facing employees.

What’s the best option? Look for safe alternatives.

What’s the safe alternative? We will come to that*.

What about these IT/ITES employees? They are soon going to form trade unions – which means layoffs / tough decisions won’t be easy from now onwards.

Robots eating away jobs?
Robots eating away jobs?

Plus, they will now come up with new demands (‘we need 9-6 working hours only, else strike) etc etc.

For an industry which is grappling with low margins and intense competition, there is very little incentive for any company to run its operations in union-ized city.

What’s the next best alternative? Don’t hire them.

Hire bots.

After all, most of the low-level work is anyways going to shift to the bots. So why wait for 5 years? The timing is right – before layoff becomes more difficult and expensive, layoff the headcounts and bring in botcounts.

Ditto if you are running an airline or a school. Your customer-facing employees are not trusted by your customers.

You really can’t fix it anymore. So go ahead and hire bots for all service related work.

Not because bots don’t have emotions (we still don’t know), but because the society will not distrust them.

At least for now.

Even if you misjudge a bot (for a stupid reply), it can be programmed to reply with a ‘sorry’ and not argue with you.

The amount of mistrust the society has developed among each other, powered by widening ‘haves-vs-have nots’ gap is leading to more and more mistrust. Fueled by our need to quickly jump to a conclusion, the world isn’t getting saner.

Human-to-human interaction is getting difficult and is nobody’s KRA to fix it (except God, maybe).

Most importantly, there is a lack of empathy in the world today. And no one knows what will overcome this deficit – but for those running customer-facing businesses, it is time to go totally emotionless and replace humans with bots; and run your customer facing roles in automation.

Bots can be programmed to be empathetic.

And remember. There is no ‘us vs them’ in this world anymore.

Today you are replacing. Tomorrow you will be replaced.