Business automation can improve just about every process particularly repetitive work. Where these less complex manual tasks can be replaced entirely, valuable human time is freed up and employees are given new opportunities to learn, grow and further develop their skills; so much so that some members of the workforce are even able to recreate their careers entirely.
Key benefits of business automation range from fewer errors and improved performance to lower operating costs, greater safety and tighter margins. All in all, those who are able to automate processes successfully experience real improvements in daily operations. (I have hidden the link to our other blogpost)
A new report from Forrester, titled “Predictions 2020: Automation”, predicts that more than one million knowledge-work jobs will be replaced by software robotics, virtual agents, machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA) and chatbots in 2020. While Forrester estimates that many organisations have already automated at least 20% of service desk tasks, there is still a lot of “low-hanging fruit” just waiting to be automated.
Job losses or job opportunities?
Understandably, there are fears about the future of jobs. But if James Wallace, co-founder of Exponential University, is to be believed then embracing business automation will empower individuals to create their own income with less reliability on traditional and hierarchical ways of working. Our automated future will eschew the conventional notion of jobs altogether, he explains.
“We’re living through something now that is an unfortunate but necessary pain,” Wallace says. “The conversation should be how to reduce those growing pains. The reality is the ultimate effect of automation is something very positive for everyone.” Industry insiders like Wallace predict that these technologies provide greater access to educational and networking opportunities, which essentially makes everyone their own free agent with so many possibilities to upskill themselves.
And let’s not forget that business automation is not a cure-all. Another Forrester report – this one titled Beware the Automation Paradox – explains how automation can be a bit like “like a chainsaw in untrained hands”. The two recent crashes of Boeing’s next generation 737 Max aircraft highlighted the limitations of automation when it was revealed that cockpit crews lacked the training and understanding of what the automated system was doing.
As such, they didn’t know how to respond when something went wrong. When the automated system was developed and implemented, no one considered that humans would need to act in the event of a system failure. “This is why every automated system must be designed with humans at the centre,” the Forrester report reads.
Want to access more insights like this? Download our eBook – Are you prepared for the Future Workforce – for a detailed account of the role of automation in workforce transformation.