Written By Sajid Khan
Published Date August 10, 2018
Work automation is the process of digitizing and automating workflow management for a more efficient operation, as well as cutting back on human error. The robotization of the workplace has been the stuff of science fiction novels. But never in the era of human civilization as the concept has become more real as now.
Trends in Work Automation
While the benefits of business process automation are obvious, only a small percentage of US industries have been willing to invest in new innovations. In fact, a large majority is expected to be affected by the digital disruption caused by AI and robotic automation.
Industries are caught in the good news, bad news predicament.The good news is that more and more companies acknowledge the importance of investing in automation in order to compete. The survey by Forrester Consulting for Enova Decisions revealed that as low as 3 in 10 companies to as high as 48% are already integrating machine-learning, AI, and Internet-of-Things in some form or the other. By 2020, the number is expected to shoot up to as high as 90%.
The bad news, however, is that only 42% of companies have software products that are already obsolete in relation to the new hardware innovations being introduced in the market today. Meanwhile, more than 2 in 10 of executives say that they are satisfied with how their companies are employing new technologies to improve workflow management.
Future and Impact of Work Automation
The report by McKinsey Global Institute titled, “Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation,” debunked the myth about artificial intelligence and robotics displacing human workers. Indeed, there are jobs that will be redundant due to the automation technology, however, new jobs will also be created in turn. This means that the feared massive drop in unemployment rates may not happen.
Besides, you can expect resistance from some business owners, especially in countries or cities with lax labor laws, who will insist on hiring cheap manpower than investing in automation tools.
Another offshoot of automation technology is the expected upgrading of human capacity and skills. Higher prerequisites in employment and retention are necessary in order to compete with robotic automation. This could either be a positive or negative outcome, depending on where you sit.
So will automation eventually replace human workers? The answer is no.
In fact, that’s not the design of the automation technology and tools right now. The purpose is to make the work easier for people so they have more time for leisure activities while, at the same time, reduce the margin of error in order to increase the profits. Innovations in artificial intelligence and robotics are constantly being developed in order to build on human aptitude.
On the business side, technology is being exploited to ensure maximum gains from each human worker. There’s a downside to this, of course, and that is the dehumanization of the workplace.
Narrow Understanding of the Technology
Unless there’s a major upheaval, the current trend of conservative investment in automated workflow management will likely continue. The main goal of businesses is to cut back costs and boost profits, and their business processing automation goals will revolve around this principle. In their ideal setup, robots will replace middle management while they can still retain their cheap manual labor.
Although the digital disruption caused by the automation technology is already being felt by some sectors, full automation is still good 10 years from now. That should provide businesses with a comfortable window to change their systems. The important thing right now is for companies to come up with workable strategies for the violent transition that is bound to come.