With great sadness the news came out of Coleraine today with regards to the DVA laying off jobs which will move to Swansea. Devastating, yes. Surprising, I’m sorry to say not. While politicians lobbied to retain the jobs in Coleraine, and will continue to do so, the landscape of vehicle taxing was shifting under their feet.
What it harshly reminds us is that while we are all wanting our lives to be streamlined, whether that be online, via the phone or to our locality there are naturally repercussions to our actions. With the tax discs the writing was on the wall when their scrapping was announced in December 2013.
The centralised nature of information in regards to motoring was already in place, a date for tax, insurance and MOT is already stored. IBM had the technical aspects in place from 2005 and was slowly being refined. By rights this could be automated pretty easy, with Swansea already looking after 42 million records the ingestion of NI driver data would a simple transfer.
Like myself and others have said for a long time: if it can be automated, it will be automated.
The issue, not just to DVA, to any organisation is providing long term owner value regardless if this is a government department or a private business. So as time goes on process is refined and eventually the manpower required to do process tasks will decrease. With computing power the way it is now automated tasks are done quickly, efficiently (most of the time).
Our aim? To make ourselves essential and recession proof. This basically means a constant refinement of skills over a period of time. Standing still is now a luxury we cannot afford, that even goes for software developers who think they’re in a great place right now. The sands can shift very quickly from under your feet while you’re not watching.
My worry is that Coleraine, and it’s knock on effects, are just the tip of the iceberg. Our ideas, creativity and efforts all count now. Collaboration, unity and a suite of products that we can sell outside of Northern Ireland will be key to the economy. Yes, we’re doing great with TV at the moment but what happens when the series is cancelled?
In the words of Tackhead: What’s my mission now? Now what?