The use of automation is making waves in several industries for the boost in productivity it presents and overall cost reduction. With these systems being integrated very rapidly, the fear is that human workers are going to be replaced by machines. The honest truth is that many jobs will be displaced and result in jobs being created elsewhere. Today, we are going to look at what exactly automation is and how it is beneficial to a business and human advancement.
What is Automation?
Automation is, in a business sense, the process of relying on machines to do jobs more efficiently than humans do. By automatically doing a lot of the heavy lifting, machines produce higher levels of productivity and higher degrees of efficiency, producing higher profit margins and higher yields. Automation is extremely advantageous if your business is trying to reduce costs.
Automation mostly provides solutions for repetitive jobs, effectively replacing the opportunity for human error for the completion of important–yet mundane–tasks. The smarter machines get, the more automation will be leaned on by businesses of all types. Most of the automation that is accomplished today is done by software that is integrated with other applications to provide major value. Today, these systems are improving though machine learning and artificial intelligence. These technology advancements provide options for the following business functions.
HR and Management
Automating parts of their HR and management is extremely popular for most types of businesses. Processes like benefits and payroll are being centralized alongside health information and numerous other human resources processes through software. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) offers automated options for a lot of these functions, as well as to-client interactions.
The CRM not only has functions that allow it to simply connect and manage customer accounts, it also automates the integration of information to create easy-to-manage profiles for each company and employee. As mentioned above, the CRM also allows a company to manage most of its HR (onboarding/training/benefits) and accounting (payroll/accounts receivable/expense) processes. There are other types of software that do this for other industries, providing even more automation and more data and process integration. These include, Professional Services Automation (professional services) and Enterprise Resource Planning (manufacturing).
Sales & Marketing
Most CRMs, ERPs, and PSAs also feature automated tools to help sales teams “win” more often. Sales is often a very repetitive job and automating parts of the sales process provides a lot of efficiency within a company’s sales department. Companies are also automating marketing processes to make the process much easier. Tasks like email marketing–as part of outreach or as a part of a project/service–can allow for a personal touch while still making processes much more efficient. Personalization has proven to be an advantageous strategy for marketers, as it provides potential customers more initiative to interact with a company’s marketing attempts.
Businesses are using automatic tools in both their physical and network security processes. In fact, some of the strongest automated systems are used to enhance these systems. In physical security, automating the processes that make up modern intrusion detection can be beneficial. Since automation is all about making tasks easier and reducing cost, surveillance and security automation systems are some of the most proven.
In network security, there are many tasks to account for. Automation makes the whole process affordable. Securing your business’ network at the cost you pay today would be nearly impossible without automation tools. Even if you pay a pretty penny to secure your internal IT, your IT administrator is actively using automation tools all the time. Midnight Blue’s IT professionals are constantly using automated systems to secure the networks of our clients.
The Future of Automation
The future prospects of automation are virtually limitless. Constant integration of new automated solutions are actively breaking down productivity barriers. The new tools, fueled by advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), are shifting the ideas of what is possible. Furthermore, advances in smart products and other Internet of Things devices, 5G connectivity, and technology innovations such as fintech are constantly finding new ways to use automation.
Unfortunately, as with any other revolutionary shift, there are detriments. There are experts on the record explaining that 40 percent of the jobs people have today could be automated in the next two years, and will be completely obsolete in 15 years. This opens up the real possibility that there will be a lot of unskilled, untrained, and unemployed labor fairly soon. How this fact is confronted will have some very real effects on how society views these people.
Some analysts believe that many of the jobs will be replaced by new service jobs. Others believe that enough of the workforce will be affected that it will be up to governments to figure out a solution. A lot of analysts suggest that either directly or indirectly, businesses will need to take on the cost of re-educating individuals, since they will be the ones seemingly benefiting from the increased profitability of replacing humans with automated systems. The fact is AI is coming, and if today’s contingencies are any indication, the transition will be ugly.
How do you view automation? Do you see it as an inevitability that will work for our benefit, or do you see it as just another affront to the modern worker? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.