The rise of automation: Are you reaping the benefits?

April, 2020

By: Rosina Webb

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A 2019 study conducted by Oxford Economics revealed that over the next decade, there could be nearly 14 million robots put to work, and that’s in China alone! Even the introduction of self-driving cars would result in 15% of the world’s workforce being displaced.

But automation isn’t necessarily a bad thing; on average, 10 to 20 percent of human work hours are currently spent on rote tasks. Imagine if every time you checked your emails, all the messages had already been sorted into the appropriate folders. Or if your Twitter account automatically posted a message each time you updated your website. Small tasks that take up significant time, cost you and your business money.

By looking at how automated systems and machines can complement the existing workforce, we can start to have the conversation so both employers and employees can benefit.

Focussing on the positives
There has been significant focus on the negative impacts of rising automation. But with the right tools, automation can reap big benefits for businesses. The most common advantages for automating computer operations are as follows:

Cost reduction
Automation software increases services to customers while systematically reducing costs. Most modern servers have low operating costs and the total cost of ownership is also declining.

As demands on technology within a business increases, productivity becomes more of an issue, and we all know that the more we use computers, the more demands we place on the systems. Automating operations can help to resolve these issues through job scheduling software, increasing batch throughput, and also forecasting job completion, taking the guesswork out of daily tasks.

The reliance on our computers continues to grow, and day-to-day business is conducted through a multitude of online systems. A key advantage to automated systems is the ability to automate your save and recovery procedures. Robots and automated processes also work at a constant speed, unattended 365 days a year!

Automated operations ensure that jobs are not forgotten or run out of sequence, that prerequisite jobs are completed successfully, all the data is correct, and any special processing is performed.

The bigger the organisation, the higher the likelihood of an error occurring in one of these areas. Automated operations help us to reduce this risk.

Let’s be honest, a lot of us would like to improve the way our systems perform. Automation can help to reduce the time and effort it takes to achieve tasks within smoother and more efficient systems.

The irony of automation
It’s interesting to bear in mind that automation does come with its own ironies: The more reliable the system, the less human operators have to do, resulting in less attention being paid to the system while it’s operating, and reliable systems tend to make it hard for us to notice that something is wrong. This is how car companies end up with million-dollar recalls.

Rigorous and ongoing testing is the best approach to avoid a major automation error. Plan a series of tests to find the most important issues, that way you also keep your system operators engaged and also escalate your chance of finding errors quickly.

To sum up
Over the last 25 years, more jobs have been created than have been lost. So, it is a reasonable expectation that automation will continue to offer more opportunities. Jobs will require more creativity, social interaction, and prices and margins can be improved by concentrating on design to implement simpler structures.

There is great opportunity with progressive automation, as long as we adapt our business processes ahead of time.

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