As someone deeply involved in technology strategy, I\u2019m often asked about the impact of automation. Will automation\u2014specifically, intelligent automation\u2014create prosperity and growth, or will it create a dystopian future where workers are increasingly replaced by software robots?\nI always answer\u2014and believe\u2014that intelligent automation is a vast opportunity, not a threat. By working hand in hand with intelligent technology, we can achieve greater things. It frees us from mundane, repetitive activities\u2014unleashing creativity and letting us build stronger, more productive working relationships. Intelligent automation makes us more human, not less.\nUnprecedented productivity gains\nThat\u2019s why McKinsey\u2019s recent report, A Future That Works, is so fascinating. It predicts that automation will increase productivity by up to 1.4 percent per year over the next 50 years. By comparison, the steam engine only drove 0.3 percent annual increases, and the IT revolution only raised productivity growth by 0.4 percent.\nLet\u2019s be clear. Technology adoption is critical for productivity. It\u2019s not just McKinsey saying this. For instance, a 2016 OECD study found that productivity growth in \u201cfrontier\u201d firms was three times higher than in productivity laggards\u2014and that gap is growing. One key reason is that technological innovations take too long to penetrate the market\u2014giving first-mover advantage to frontier firms.\nAnother 2015 study reinforces this point. It found that digital B2B leaders\u2014those that aggressively adopt digital technology\u2014show vastly better financial performance. For example, their annual revenue growth averaged 4.3 percent, compared to 0.8 percent for their peers. And their operating profits grew even faster\u201413.5 percent versus -1.8 percent\u2014compelling evidence of accelerating productivity.\nWhy should we care?\nThis is important because productivity is key to our economic future. The world\u2019s advanced economies are facing a long-term employment crisis\u2014and it\u2019s not about a lack of jobs. As population growth slows and we live longer, we\u2019re running out of workers. The latest McKinsey report echoes this, saying, \u201cThe size of the workforce over the next 50 years is too small to maintain current per capita GDP growth without accelerating productivity growth.\u201d\nGiven our macroeconomic environment and demographic trends, intelligent automation isn\u2019t a choice\u2014it\u2019s a necessity.\nThat repeats the stark picture painted by an earlier 2015 McKinsey report, which forecast that \u201cunless we can dramatically improve productivity, \u2026 the rapid expansion of the past five decades will be seen as an aberration of history, and the world economy will slide back toward its relatively sluggish long-term growth rate.\u201d\nWhat about job losses?\nIntelligent automation will have a massive positive economic impact, but many people remain seriously concerned about job losses. However, A Future That Works offers a more optimistic view\u2014and one that I agree with. Intelligent automation replaces individual activities, not entire occupations. Only 5 percent of today\u2019s occupations are candidates for full automation. On the other hand, nearly every occupation could be partially automated. In other words, this is about enhancing productivity, not eliminating occupations. That\u2019s exactly what we need to drive economic growth and increase employment.\nAnd automation doesn\u2019t just substitute for labor\u2014it complements it. For example, banks introduced ATMs in the 1970s\u2014a clear substitution for the labor of bank tellers. And yet the number of bank tellers in the U.S.\u00a0actually rose by 10\u00a0percent\u00a0between 1980 and 2010 as bank branches refocused to provide customers with relationship-based services such as loans and investments.\nWe need to act now to implement intelligent automation\nGiven our macroeconomic environment and demographic trends, intelligent automation isn\u2019t a choice\u2014it\u2019s a necessity. As a matter of policy, we need to focus our resources on driving intelligent automation throughout our labor force, laying the groundwork for future economic growth, prosperity and\u2014yes\u2014increased employment.\nAt the same time, we must identify and focus on skills needed for this new \u201cautomated economy.\u201d That takes a fundamental shift in our education system. And we mustn\u2019t leave behind the 5 percent. Retraining affected workers and easing their transition into new types of employment is both an economic imperative and a social responsibility.\nThe good news is we have time. According to McKinsey, it will likely take until 2055 to achieve the full potential of automation. But we need to start now\u2014successful change requires concerted and sustained effort, not a patchwork of disconnected responses after the fact.