Automation Isn’t Taking Your Job. It’s Improving It.
When you hear “robots” and “automation” over the next 10 years, we will not be talking about your father’s first experience with a manufacturing robot on the plant floor. We also won’t be talking about the computer programs from the 90’s that made computational tasks like labor scheduling so much easier. Instead, we will be talking about concepts like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Intelligent Automation (IA).
For those without a software background, RPA is like teaching a computer how to use a flowchart. Step 1, then step 2. If it’s green, go here; if it’s red, stop. IA is when an application can recognize patterns and take steps based on those patterns. .
Most of the media coverage around RPA and IA talks about how those technologies will decimate the work force. Even Elon Musk and Bill Gates have ranted against how automation will impact jobs. Considering that both technologies are already widely used, and most modern economies are experiencing their lowest unemployment rates in decades, that is pretty ridiculous.
That’s right, it’s not all doom and gloom. Robots and automation applications are already successful, and they are here to stay. And they are definitely not taking your job. Actually, automation is improving your job — it’s most likely improving your company too — and I’m tired of people saying it isn’t.
For the companies that are doing automation right, employees are being helped by the automation app rather than replaced. The apps only do what we tell them to do. Skilled labor gets paid to both think and do, while the apps are only capable of replacing the “do” portion of the job. While over time this may result in some headcount changes, likely through attrition, little justification can be made for headcount reduction while the apps are being developed and implemented. Instead, automation apps provide an astounding benefit to employee morale, because now a previously overloaded employee can take the time to think about improvements and adding business value instead of just “doing their job.”
Here’s what I mean by that. In the world of networking we can increase efficiency by automating software upgrades on routers. Instead of spending hours upgrading each device manually, a network engineer can tackle the unique and difficult parts of the job while the automation works away in the background on the repetitive tasks. Itential’s automation solution is a combination of RPA and IA; our workflow designer allows you to automate your manual processes with built-in intelligence that is smart enough to be proactive within the modern network.
By seeking out automation opportunities, you can reduce the drudgery in your day-to-day life and actively shape what you will be doing in the future. This may mean that you need to learn a new skill, but someone is going to need to update and maintain all of these new automation apps, right? You already know the business logic behind the process that is being automated, so this is a perfect chance to provide long-term input on how the app operates.
So, to the managers out there exploring automation: lose the traditional Outsourcing mindset, because these apps are not one-to-one replacements for your hard-working employees.
And to all of those committed to getting things done: talk to your boss and your IT team about automation opportunities. Automation might replace some jobs, but new jobs will appear, and they will be completely focused on shaping and supporting that automation. Having a seat at the table now ensures it will go right in the future!
Go forth and automate!