Automation is still a fairly new idea despite the fact that it’s been around for quite some time. While technically a paradox, this is absolutely true. Automation has been a major part of the business world since the industrial age when technology started to play a far more crucial part in manufacturing companies around the world. The difference is that now, it’s evolving in new and often incredible ways. It’s becoming such an important part of the puzzle for business owners. We’re going to look at some examples of how automation is being used now, how it could be used in the future and what this might mean for the business world as a whole. But before we explore these possibilities with key examples, we do need to consider what automation actually means.
What Is Automation?
Automation is introducing processes into the business model that are automated. Essentially, today, this means that humans need to have very little input into the process at all except perhaps to set up the software that runs it. Now, as we said, this form of business processing has been around for quite some time. In the past, in manufacturing businesses, employees would have needed to pull a machine down hard to cut or press metal. In the seventies, this became automated with technology sensing when the metal was under the cutter and bringing it crashing down. Immediately, the role of the worker was greatly reduced, and we will explore what this means further down.
There are other forms of automation as well. Automation can be software. You can use software to complete processes that before would have needed to be completed manually. An example of this type of process would be call handling. Call handling used to require a massive staff of workers, on the phone, speaking to customers. But it doesn’t mean that anymore. Now, the number of workers hired for call handling can be very small indeed. Instead, customers speak to software for processing. It might even sound human, but of course, it’s just a piece of tech with ones and zeroes controlling how it operates. These days, they often use voice recognition to make responses as fluid as possible. People used to be irritated with this type of call handling, but the benefits, no pun intended, speak for themselves.
A lower number of workers means that this area of a business is now cheaper to run and far more efficient. This is just one of the benefits of automation that should be considered.
Benefits Of Automation
The biggest benefit of automation is that it gives smaller companies a better chance at competing on the market. In the past, they were at a disadvantage because larger companies could afford to hire more workers. This, of course, has changed. Now, it’s easier for companies to stay close to the heels of their competitors because rather than paying wages to more workers, they can just buy new software. As long as a business is up to date with the latest tech, they are able to complete.
Since it’s also cheaper to run a business like this, that also means that startups have a better chance of succeeding on the market. In a world where 97 percent of startups fail this is a massive win. Particularly, since we need startups to succeed to push the market forward and introduce fresh ideas and innovation.
However perhaps the biggest advantage for business owners that can not be disregarded is that sheer level of savings. It’s quite possible that in a few years a business could be run by one person. We’re not talking about an online simplistic model like a blog here either. We mean a full office or factory. Automation really could make this a possibility and just think about what this would mean not just for the individual profit margin but the spendings as a whole. Aside from energy costs and the general costs of a building, all others would be wiped out. So, let’s explore some of the ways that automation is now being used in the business world today. We’ve already explored a few, but we can go deeper.
Arguably the biggest buzz around automation right now is driverless vehicles. If you think this won’t affect the business world, you’re not paying attention. It seems to always be one step forward and two back with this tech. One minute, Uber are introducing driverless cars, the next they’re pulling them back because of a crash in Arizona and reintroducing cars with drivers. What you’re seeing here is the growing pains of new tech. You have to remember, ten years ago this tech never existed. So, it makes sense that it’s going to grow into what we need it for. But it will grow, and the logistics industry will never be the same. As soon as the tech is ready and available, you can forget about truck drivers. You’ll soon see trucks driving along the road with no one in the front seat. You should expect to see major developments here within the next year.
Of course, the main way the tech is being used right now is with software in offices. For instance, invoices can now be handled automatically. There’s no longer a need to hire someone to sort out your invoices. Instead, with the click of a button, everyone who needs to be paid, can be paid. This isn’t the only way automation is changing office processes. You can view more at DataServ or a similar tech software company. But you should definitely consider HR automation software management. Now, every file or piece of software related to automation can be managed directly, ensuring that all the files are accessible and sent to the right part of your company.
In factories, automation is definitely showing it’s teeth. Go into a factory today, and while we’re not quite at the point where it’s completely automated, you’re likely to see more machines than humans. This makes a great deal of sense as humans are a liability in factories and factories can be very dangerous places. By removing as many of the staff as possible, the danger can be dramatically limited.
Finally, in the food industry, we are starting to see the rollout of automated servers and food preparation. The first evidence of this has been seen in Japan with robotic waiters. It won’t be long before this tech is introduced into to restaurants across the world.
Automation In The Future
The potential for automation in the business world is absolutely endless. Any process that you can think of could one day be automated. For instance, you might be a writer. Well, the technology is being developed right now to make your job redundant. And we’re not just talking about promotional content here. People have been toying with tech that could write a book such as the next Harry Potter or finish Game of Thrones. While the software is, again, still at a primitive stage, it’s probably only about ten years out from being used on the market. In fact, The Washington Post is already known to partially use software like this.
In essence, automation could take over any job in any industry that you could imagine. The only job that is truly safe is that of the developers creating the tech in the first place. This is one of the reasons why there has been an increased support for IT courses at colleges worldwide and also why there has been an increased demand for these types of course. People are becoming brutally aware that IT and technology is the only job that will be secure in the future.
What Does This Mean?
Well for business owners, it’s nothing but good news. Lower costs, lower number of staff, more efficient processes all point to higher profits and reduced spending. But for workers, things are a tad more bleak. If the level of automation continues to grow, we’re going to need to take steps to protect the individuals who no longer have any place in the business world. This is why Elon Musk suggested that we needed a universal living wage by 2020. This gives you an idea of the type of time frame we are under at the rate that tech is growing today.
It is worth pointing out that a universal living wage is not a new idea. Some countries have already introduced this possibility. Finland is trialing a basic living wage for the unemployed, and other countries could follow if it is successful. The bottom line is that automation is bringing huge benefits for business owners and industries and it is impossible to ignore this. However, it is also going to present problems for the future.
At the very least ten years from now, the business world will likely be completely different from what we know today. We are in the middle of another technological revolution, we just haven’t fully realized it yet.