Black Swan may be a positive spring migrant, after all

24.3.2020 - News

Europe is in a state of emergency. Borders are closed and people are more or less quarantined. The first phase of the crisis is a shock. It is followed by the reactionary phase, when the reality strikes. The third phase brings us to the procession of the crisis, as analysis of the events starts after the turmoil. The fourth phase launches survival, when resourcefulness and optimism begin to rise. Hopefully wisdom, too.

The most famous book of the philosopher, researcher and practitioner in mathematical finance, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Black Swan, discusses how events that are uncommon and difficult to predict affect the way of the world. A Black Swan is an unlikely and unforeseen event with a huge impact that we can only understand in retrospect. Global history has witnessed several Black Swans, from disease epidemics to stock crashes and from 9/11 terror attacks to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

But how unexpected were the above-mentioned events, after all? Could a Black Swan be something entirely positive, too? Yes, it can. The list of positive Black Swan events has later come to include the rise of the Internet and the digitalisation of the world. Now it is high time to include automation and robotisation in the column of positive cases.

Preparation and risk management have been franticly pondered in many companies. In February, the Confederation of Finnish Industries and Business Finland informed that the coronavirus epidemic in China has serious impacts on the Finnish industry. Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä, in turn, brought up the possibility that the state would support the return of subcontracting into Finland. There is a reason to be worried about the availability of components.

Sure enough – the coronavirus can eventually become the positive Black Swan, as a result of which much work will be returned to Finland. Work was outsourced to the world because of costs, but the cost benefit has been caught up in several occasions. And we can further improve – by investing in automation. We have expertise in Finland, there is no doubt about quality.

From the perspective of risk management, it would be beneficial if companies understood to look further into the future. To keep in mind, even in the aftermath of the crisis, the price tag that companies and the entire society had to pay for the production chains paralysed by the epidemic.

World Economic Forum calculated in 2018 that robots would make 75 million jobs disappear globally by 2022. At the same time, robotisation creates 133 million jobs in the world. Handwork will decrease in manufacturing, but there will be more work in expert tasks, such as robot management and surveillance.

Yes, please! Better productivity, security of supply, cost-effectiveness and quality. Risk-management of the future. Work for Finnish people. The climate will also be grateful.