CFO Intelligence Magazine – Spring/Summer 2024

Matt Konwiser

Data, AI and Automation Technical Leader, Ecosystem Northeast – IBM

It seems like a ridiculous analogy. The question, however, is serious. There are so many things in our lives which are already automated, and we accept that readily. From a CFO’s point of view, think about the time and expense if many tasks did not have automation. What would the FTE cost impact be if people chose to walk or ride bikes to work or to visit customers? How would facilities’ cost change if doors didn’t auto-close, and lights and environmental systems didn’t turn on and off on a schedule or based on movement?

In these examples the automation is limited, has no human analog, and is made exclusively to serve humans. So, let’s move a little closer to the center of the sore spot…

Typesetters are essential to life. Without them, we’d have no books, newspapers, or printed materials of any kind. Many typesetters, however, didn’t mind the printing press. I suppose working 24/7 for a week to run off a single book, or potentially dealing with hot lead on a daily basis wasn’t all that attractive. The printing press partially automated the process, and then with the introduction of electronic printing, it became nearly fully automated.

Despite this, many historians reported that jobs increased and, in fact, many of the formats used by typesetters are still in use today even though many may be unnecessary  the concept of margins for one.

As the world’s population grew, so did the number of contributors and new materials. Likewise, the need for mass-produced content also grew. I read a report recently, that a World Book Day study from 2015 showed the average household had 158 books. There are simply not enough people and manual printing presses in the world to keep up with that. It was cost, manufacturing volume, production time, available staffing, and demand that drove the evolution of an automated publishing world, and most people didn’t bat an eye.


First, we need to sort out our terminology. Using computer systems for repetitive tasks or human interaction is not inherently the AI everyone’s talking about, including generative AI and the well-known ChatGPT. The use of computer systems for repetitive tasks is automation..