Cloud computing and the future of work
Alexander Asatianis research is about the future of work, and the future of workplaces. Alexander was born in Russia, grew up in Georgia, lived over twelve years in Finland, two years in England and now recently moved to Sweden. He speaks four languages.
What’s your academic background?
–I did my PhD about cloud computing and outsourcing at Aalto university, Helsinki, in the department of information service economy where I graduated in 2016. Then, I started a postdoc for one year before moving to Aston University in Birmingham, England where I worked at the department of operations and information management for two years as an assistant professor.
Are we going to get completely replaced by robots and automation, or are we going to work in symbiosis with artificial intelligence where we can let certain tasks go, and humans can focus on more intellectual endeavors?
Describe your research
– It is about the future of work, and the future of workplaces. At the moment I am focusing on three aspects of that field. On the one hand I am looking into the impact of automation in business process design and how it impacts every day work. The second aspect is on distributed work, looking at how people are working in distributed organizations and, again, how they are affected by it. The third part is how new technologies such as cloud computing can generate innovation within organizations and their business processes.
How did you get interested in this field?
– When I started my PhD-studies there was a huge interest in cloud computing and I was looking into that from the perspective of accounting, finance and HR. So, it was really about the digitalization of the processes. But, at the end of my PhD I got into this case with an organization that had co-workers virtually connected, the employees were sitting all around Finland which I got really interested in and I thought – how does these people manage to work as one organization? I wanted to explore that.
Why is it important – what challenges needs to be addressed?
– A big challenge is to learn to work with information systems rather than with people. How will workplaces look five, or ten, years from now? I am really curious to see the development. Are we going to get completely replaced by robots and automation, or are we going to work in symbiosis with artificial intelligence where we can let certain tasks go, and humans can focus on more intellectual endeavors? A big question is how the future will be shaped.
Do you have any real-life examples of what you mean?
– As I said, I have been focusing on the accounting area, companies of various sizes. And what accountants do is that they get a lot of information about sales, purchases, salaries and process that information into tax reports, salary reports and similar. But now, almost all data is digital and enters straight into the systems they are using and being automatically processed. But the automatic systems cannot take consideration into certain legislation and rules, which must be coded into the system. And then we have this gap between accountants that process information, and the accountants that have long experience, know the field and have an overview. The big question that arise is; does people suffer from being removed from all the routine processes, which in a way can be annoying, but at the same time giving accountants a good summary of their clients. If you are only looking at the outcome from the machine, you miss a lot. What is the accountant going to do in the future; are they going to be high level experts on the data that’s being processed by the machine, or do we still need people involved to see the big picture. And the question for the society would be; how do we educate such people?
How do you divide your time between teaching and research at the department?
– At the moment I am teaching half the time at the master´s programme Digital Leadership, the course strategic innovation for digital economy, and I will spend most of my time now until the end of December doing that. And from January 2020 up until the summer I will focus on research, first continue on my ongoing research and the start up new projects and apply for funding.
What made you apply for a position here?
– The area of information systems is more developed in Sweden, compare to the UK where focus tends to be more into the industrial and operational area. Here, as well as in Denmark and Finland, the focus is more towards social aspects of digitalization and innovation, which suits me. So, after a couple of years in the UK I decided that I wanted to come back this the environment which is more rewarding for the things that I work with.
Future dream scenario in terms of your job?
– That tends to shift each and every day. But now with this new chapter in my life, I want to develop my independent projects and convert the three pillars that I mentioned on into one coherent issue. And of course, publish my research in top journals.
Senior lecturer at Department of Applied Information Technology
Division of Informatics