The COVID-19 pandemic created massive shifts in the way we work, with employees around the globe moving from a predominantly office-based to a remote-working style. The future of work seems in a state of flux, now more than ever.
Although the looming threat of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) is a common source of fear and uncertainty for many, thought to result in mass displacement of jobs and unemployment, automotive processes have been part of the workforce for thousands of years.
Since the first industrial revolution in the late 17th century, the textile industry saw the use of mechanized looms powered by steam and water, while the paper industry was revolutionized through the introduction of the Fourdrinier machine which allowed for the continuous production of paper and later led to similar automation processes of metals.
The automobile industry also took advantage of such advances in technology with General Motors deploying its first prototype robots in 1961. To this day, companies such as Genesys Systems Integrator offer robotic tooling services to their clients.
It is clear that the arrival of automation in the workplace has not led to the complete elimination of human input and that automation and AI will continue to transform the way we do business. In this article, we will discuss some of the benefits automation brings to the workplace.
Frees Up Time
With the automation of many repetitive and tedious tasks such as data collection, processing, and expense management, employees have more time to dedicate to creativity, innovation and areas that add value to their teams, clients and organizations as a whole.
Rather than job losses, employees’ skills may instead be diverted into other areas which complement rather than compete with technology. Examples include organizations such as Amazon where employees that were previously hired to stack, lift and sort objects are now working as robot operators responsible for monitoring the automation process and resolving any issues in the flow of operations.
With many laborious and time-consuming tasks being taken over by technology, workers also report having greater job satisfaction and less stress, helping to create a more productive and happier workforce with greater morale.
According to estimates by IBM, the yearly cost of poor quality data in the United States is $3.1 trillion. Data quality issues can arise in numerous ways, however, data entry errors such as duplicate entries, typos, missing fields or incorrectly filled entries resulting from human error is a common cause of poor data.
Certain processes such as generating reports, entering customer contact information onto a customer relationship management (CRM) platform or transferring information from one source to another can be automated, significantly reducing the risk of errors occurring. This can result in easier access to data and smoother workflows overall.
More Efficient Marketing
Technological innovations as a result of digital marketing have changed the way businesses reach and communicate with their customers. From building brand awareness and tracking marketing campaigns to search engine optimization (SEO) and nurturing leads, traditional marketing methods have been greatly transformed in recent years. Patterns and trends can be analyzed to predict customer behavior and spending habits, as well as identify the right target demographic thereby making marketing budgets more efficient.
As automation becomes a part of the marketing process, human marketers are still needed to interpret data and insights, apply emotional intelligence and creativity and add a human touch to marketing campaigns, helping businesses to craft content which will resonate with their target audience.
Supply Chain Management
Innovations in AI and automation can revolutionize supply chain systems and the industry overall. Emerging technologies can help businesses to track and manage their inventory, improve delivery times, boost end to end supply chain visibility, identify the supply and demand of goods, and send follow-up emails to customers.
Fleet management software which utilizes GPS tracking to find the most efficient routes by taking into account factors such as accidents, weather and traffic conditions can help businesses gauge the reason behind delays and problems on particular routes.
Through tracking and documenting inventory, warehouse management systems can help reduce costs, streamline processes and improve the overall operational efficiency of a business. Transport management systems can be used to ship and track goods in transit and ensure shipments comply with the correct documentation as well as provide notifications of issues causing delays whilst in transit allowing customers to be kept updated.
Order fulfillment and the correct tracking of orders is essential for a business to keep its customers happy. Up-to-date shipping information by means of data capturing at various points in the shipping or haulage process allows businesses to meet this need.
The automation of many of these processes removes the need for human disruption from sick days or heavy workloads, offering greater predictability and the potential to plan ahead. This allows businesses to function with greater efficiency and speed helping them to remain ahead of their competition.
In agriculture and farming, technology has the potential to save large amounts of time, money and labor through the process of food production. From planting and harvesting to seeding and weeding, smart farming makes use of automation through chemical sensors which can monitor and respond to moisture levels in soil, smart irrigation, agricultural machinery and software systems that reduce the need for manual labor in decision making and the operation of equipment.
Such innovations lead to an improvement in the quality and production of food, as well as a reduction in the cost of production as farmers do not need to pay workers to do the work for them.
In industries such as these, robots can also replace the need for dangerous jobs involving chemicals, blades, welding and heavy lifting. Fatigue and tiredness can increase the risk of an accident or fatality, a problem that can be eliminated through greater automation.
Automation is a feature that is set to remain and grow within the workplace. This may not necessitate the elimination of a human component, but rather a change in the nature of work.