Automation is an exciting prospect. Who doesn’t like the idea of having menial tasks completed quicker and more effectively than they could have been by a human?
Automation has been around in some form or another for a long time. However, thanks to Big Data and AI, it’s evolving rapidly, expanding into sectors that were never previously thought possible. HR, transportation, even medicine all have the potential to be permanently reshaped by automation.
In this article, we take a look at where automation is at, where it is going, and how it will drive innovation going forward.
One of automation's biggest boons is that it reduces waste, both in a very literal sense and even in more abstract terms.
A factory that makes use of automation may experience less waste because it will have more accurate measurements, fewer errors, and faster
rates of production. Not only will this allow the businesses owners to further their innovation goals with increased capital and less wasted time, but it also has broader environmental implications.
A world full of factories that waste less material will produce less pollution and ultimately create fewer emissions.
More abstractly, automation can also solve the much more complicated problem of wasted time. It’s worth keeping in mind that though automation is often thought of as replacing human labor, there are many situations in which it is implemented to complement or improve it.
Consider the transportation industry. A long-haul trucker using legacy technology relies primarily on their own intuition while they are on the road. Their trucks are likely inspected routinely, and they probably have some form of GPS advising them on their route, but beyond this, they are
ostensibly relying on a combination of luck and their judgment to make their deliveries.
While this gets the job done, untold hours of waste are incurred thanks to traffic jams, unexpected breakdowns, environmental factors, and other incidentals that the human mind alone can’t plan for.
With intuitive AI and Big Data fleet management technology, truckers are given automatic updates on the status of various parts of their truck. They know the state of their vehicles at all times. With GeoMapping technology, they can also get automated route advisements that account for much more in-depth reporting on factors that cause delays.
Depending on the program, they may even receive advisements
on where to fuel up, or what routes to take to make the most of their mileage. While more standard GPS programs make their route advisements primarily on distance, those that benefit from AI and automation can account for a much wider range of factors that might influence the truck's arrival time.
The result? Faster routes and less waste.
Automation also allows employees to focus on tasks that are actually meaningful. HR reps are an excellent example of people who have seen the benefits of AI, automation, and Big Data completely reshape the way that their jobs are done.
HR reps of the past have previously had to perform tedious tasks like reading hundreds of resumes from applicants that were unqualified or
ill-suited for the position. Once a hire was made, HR was responsible for
onboarding. Once the new employee was onboarded, they would join the scores of other people who direct their endless questions towards, you guessed it, HR.
Automation has changed the nature of all these tasks. While resumes still need to be read, there are now programs out there that can automatically whittle down a candidate pool so that HR only has to review qualified applicants.
New hires still need to be onboarded, but now automation allows much of the legwork to be handled through chatbots, and automated email communications.
And where there’s a company, there will always be employees with questions. Now, however, most simple matters can also be handled by
Thanks to a combination of AI, automation, and Big Data, the HR rep can now focus on more important tasks, while machines and computer programs do the grunt work.
Previous to automation, growing businesses had to build significant infrastructure and do a lot of new hiring before they could reach
the next level. Scalability became a challenge because even though a company might be doing more business, their rising costs and logistical challenges could slow, or even counteract growth.
Automation changes this by allowing businesses to do more with less. The scalability benefits of automation are particularly easy to imagine in a factory setting. In the industrialized setting, automated machines may be able to do the work of many people. What’s more, they can do it around
the clock, without the need for breaks or sleep.
Automation also has the benefit of producing a significant return on investment. While the upfront cost for an automated work pipeline can
be very costly, good technology pays for itself quickly—both in the money it saves on labor, and in the new opportunities that it creates.
As menial tasks are taken care of by machines, there is more time to focus on more creative, lucrative tasks that generate increased revenue.
The Worker Displacement Problem
Automation does indeed have the potential to displace workers—though as shown above it does not necessarily need to be implemented as a replacement for human labor. Nevertheless, no one could deny that an
automated factory puts many factory workers out of business.
Does that mean that automation kills jobs?
Not precisely. Automation changes jobs. Where once a
business needed assembly line workers, now it needs technicians and engineers. They need people who can work with artificial intelligence and Big Data.
Careers in AI, automation, and Big Data may be more challenging and less accessible than the jobs that they replaced but they are more lucrative as well. Most importantly, they are the jobs that the modern business needs to find success.
If you can’t beat automation, join it.