Although we like to think of automation as something futuristic, it’s been a part of the business world since the early 20th century. It’s o...
Although we like to think of automation as something futuristic, it’s been a part of the business world since the early 20th century. It’s only now, however, that we’re getting a true glimpse of what automation can do and how it can revolutionize business processes. Like anything that eliminates human input from the equation, automation has its skeptics, which has always been the case with groundbreaking technologies. Still, automation adoption continues to grow, and studies show that business owners are ready to tap into its disruptive potential:
- Nearly half of paid activities can be automated, which accounts for a global $2 trillion in savings.
- Digital process automation is now worth $6.7 billion (excluding industrial applications), and by 2023 it could reach $12.6 billion.
- 74% of companies said that they’ll be looking for ways to include automation to streamline operations.
- Most businesses that are in the early stages of automation would like automation to play an even bigger role in the future.
Automation can boost efficiency and reduce costs.
Modern businesses are overloaded with tasks and deadlines. One study even found that 90% of employers spend their time on mundane tasks that don’t even need a human touch, and that could easily be automated. Apart from increasing the rate of employee burnout, which is an issue that every responsible business owner should care about, these repetitive tasks are a major productivity killer.
The average worker spends hours every day doing data entry and other tasks that keep them busy but don’t add anything to the company’s efficiency. Instead, they waste valuable time that could instead be used on tasks that do require human intervention.
And wasted time is not the only problem. Even when they do simple, monotonous tasks, workers still get tired, and the likelihood of human error increases, giving way to other problems. Meanwhile, automation is quick, efficient, and error-free. In fact, thanks to the latest developments in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we can train algorithms to do certain actions in an objective manner. Apart from increasing accuracy, this also leaves human emotion out of the mix, which sometimes avoids costly mistakes. Trading is perhaps the best example in this regard. Algorithmic trading has been used for several years now, and now it has great potential for cryptocurrency markets. According to the latest data, up to 70% of the shares traded on US stock exchanges come from automatic trading systems. Based on the rules established by traders, trading robots execute entries and exits as programmed, giving beginners a better shot at success and helping traders avoid emotional reactions.
Although we like to think of automation as something dangerous that steals human jobs, it’s the complete opposite. Automation eliminates those jobs that offer no opportunity for growth and that waste human talent. It’s been doing this since the Industrial Revolution, and after the initial skepticism, it leads to progress: the workers who were previously in charge of monotonous processes were given tasks that need human input, tasks that were paid better. Companies and Governments still need to address the matter of skill development and employee reorientation but, overall, automation fixes more problems than it creates.
Automation can’t solve all problems – and we shouldn’t expect it to.
The studies on automation in business in finance are extremely promising, showing that, used right, it can boost business agility and accelerate business growth. It can make both executives and employees happier and eliminate the stress of monotonous work.
However, automation is not the universal solution to all business problems. Robots do have their limitations, and there will always be tasks that only a human can understand and address. So, the time saved by automating should go towards a better understanding of crucial human processes and developing sustainable solutions in these key areas:
Have a failsafe in case digital systems encounter a problem
In general, automation is pretty reliable and hardly ever fails. However, throughout a company’s lifespan, there may be cases when the systems are down or experience problems. When that happens, employees might temporarily have to take up manual tasks, which can be a problem if they’ve never done this. In fact, there have even been cases of banks that had to bring in retired workers when their systems failed because their existing staff had never done those things manually.
When a company no longer needs an employee to do a manual task, that employee is likelier to feel concerned than excited about their future. Therefore, that worker should either be given a new set of tasks that need human input, or be trained to occupy a different position in the organization. Ultimately, the goal is to increase trust and make it so that employees feel valued, not vulnerable.
Optimize customer touchpoints
Automation is a time and money saver. However, if it’s one area where it still lacks refinement, that’s customer support. Although chatbots and other such automated tools have come a long way in the past few years, AI is not a complete replacement for human help. Using automation can make you come across as unhelpful in certain situations, so businesses need to balance digital systems with real human interaction.