In the new digital age, businesses are facing unprecedented challenges and opportunities. The confluence of AI, cloud, mobile, and other emerging technologies is creating a world that is simultaneously more automated and more human than ever before. Our research shows that executives are increasingly aware of the risks and opportunities related to automation vs. jobs. In fact, one-third of these leaders have already begun planning for how their organization will respond to changing market dynamics as the adoption of AI accelerates over the next two years. However, there’s a lot of confusion around what exactly this “rise of machines” means for business leaders today and tomorrow. Are we on the cusp of another Industrial Revolution – or is this really just a rebranded skills gap? How should you think about automation vs. jobs in your company?
What is automation?
Automation is essentially the process by which certain tasks are programmed to be completed automatically. Many businesses are investing heavily in automation technologies in the hope of increasing efficiency and serving customers more quickly. But, while automation can reduce costs and increase productivity, it is important to remember that it also eliminates manual jobs. Thus, the question is: how will this impact the workforce and the future of work? Automation is part of the reason why employees are feeling less secure about their jobs in the future. When machines do the work, people are left wondering whether their roles will be affected or even eliminated. That’s why it’s important for businesses to set up a plan for how automation will affect the future of their organization.
What is the “Jobs vs. Robots” debate?
The debate over whether or not robots will take over the laboral world is not a new topic and, for the most part, has been approached with a great deal of skepticism and concern.
Automation is a key part of the so-called “Jobs vs. robots”. This debate focuses on the question of whether we should be worried or get excited about the potential of automation.
According to a report by the French multinational Capgemini, those companies that implement automation have the particularity that, as well as removing some jobs post, they generate new jobs with the same speed, since automation leads to business growth. This phenomenon can be seen in the short term, especially in the management area of companies.
Deciding whether to automate or hire more people
Many organizations are integrating automation technologies into their existing processes. This approach lowers costs through reduced labor, but it also creates a situation where more decisions are made by software. If you decide to automate certain functions, you may also want to consider hiring a few additional people to support the initiatives and handle customer support. As automation becomes more accessible and affordable, there will be many more specialized solutions that can be used to automate critical business functions. This may make it easier to choose if hiring more people to support these initiatives, or automating work.
Automate or Hire? Hint: Automation Is Already Here
Automation technologies are already being used across many industries. They are used to increase production and decrease costs, to increase efficiency, and to increase revenue. However, automation is not a silver bullet. It requires careful planning, and it should be used to supplement, not replace human labour. Automation technologies are becoming more accessible as they become cheaper and easier to use by non technical staff. Thus, it is important for organizations to plan ahead and prepare for the inevitable automation shift. For example, you may have a process that is currently done manually. If you were to start automating that process, you would see benefits like increased efficiency and revenue. However, that process may also be part of a wider process that is automated within your company. If so, you would see huge benefits, but at the cost of taking you away from a larger goal.
Understanding the Risks of Automation
Automation technologies are designed to boost productivity, but they can also lead to certain risks. For example, while automated systems can perform tasks faster, they also require less human oversight. As the use of automation technologies has grown, human resources have faced a “skills gap” as they have been unable to keep up with demand. This problem has become especially acute in areas like customer service, where companies are receiving higher levels of negative feedback. Over time, automation technologies can become more autonomous and even begin making decisions on their own. This creates a risk that automated decisions may be biased, and that they may become “stubborn”.
When automation is not implemented properly, it can also lead to bottlenecks by scaling the number of tasks that can be automated while leaving the subsequent steps up to be done manually.
Strategies for Mitigating the Risks in Automation
There are many ways to manage the risks of automation in your organization. The first step is to understand how your business is currently performing against key metrics. You can also use data to identify where automation technologies may be appropriate for your organization. This can help you decide between hiring more people or automating work to maximize benefits with less risk. If you decide to automate, there are a number of safety precautions that you should follow.
Getting digital right from the start requires structure, discipline, and strategies adapted by experts to the organization’s goals and current level of digital maturity. Financial services companies are well aware of the need to adopt digital technologies, but are struggling to identify all the benefits that digital technology offers and apply them to the business.
In DANAconnect, we often see failures in digital transformations because first, companies made large investments, which creates great tensions, and second, they tried changing an entire process at the same time, or even several processes at the same time. The key is to locate the tasks that are blocking productivity and digitize them, making incremental improvements with a mentality oriented to the most “valuable” product. In other words, consider what incremental improvements can be made that generate value for clients, employees, and the organization as a whole. Again, it is not digitizing for digitizing’s sake.
Automation technologies are a reality that businesses must consider as they plan for the future. It’s important to understand the benefits and risks of automation and to plan for them. Automation can boost productivity, but it also requires careful planning and safeguards to mitigate its risks.