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The Wall Street Journal has a story about how Levi Strauss & Co., having introduced automation to its factory floors by using lasers to distress and create rips and holes in jeans, now is bringing robotics to finance functions within the company.

“We are introducing bots where it makes sense,” CFO Harmit Singh tells the Journal. “The idea is not to eliminate jobs. We are going to upskill employees and have them spend more time on analysis.”
KC's View:
A few thoughts here, if I may.

First, I know this may be an age thing, but I just don’t understand why people would buy jeans with holes already in them. If people want to wear them that way because they’ve earned the holes, that’s one thing. But buying the holes pre-installed? I don’t get it. Seems like a cheat. (That said, I suppose that putting holes in jeans is only one step further down the road than buying washed jeans, and I have no problem with that. So maybe I have to rethink this objection.)

Second, I’m keynoting the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Financial Executive and Internal Audit Conference in a few weeks. Wonder if I should bring this up, and if they’ll see this as a positive or a negative?

Finally, and most seriously … the thing that I like about the way this is positioned, and I hope Singh is serious, is the general notion that automation doesn’t eliminate jobs but rather allows a company to train and use people in more effective and differentiating ways. I think that seems smart. Companies that just see automation as an efficiency measure probably are laboring under the delusion that they’re doing everything really well, and need only to get more efficient and not more effective.

If they think that, they’re probably wrong.