Automation is a hot topic, but a lot of the talk going around is about robotics and 20-year timeframes, when it should be about how to automate IT (information and Technology) tasks. People are missing the fact that the automation revolution has already begun in MANY subtle ways. It’s only going to get more obvious over the next 5 years.
People are also missing the fact that automation is good news for businesses and workers. It is not going to replace every job, but it is going to change ‘work’ … for the better, so the human resources we do have can work smarter.
There are possible uses of machine learning techniques in every workplace where tasks are repetitive, systematic and rule-based. Paper pushing, bureaucratic sludge and red tape is exactly the sort of stuff makes work so onerous for many. By minimising these morale drains and productivity impediments, the HR emphasis will increasingly shift from the ‘resource’ to the ‘human’. It’s a nice parallel that with automation your people will be empowered to be more autonomous.
7 Tasks Ripe for Automation in Your Business
Whether it is worth the upfront investment to automate IT tasks in a new system is a fairly simple calculation. First, you work out how much a certain task is currently costing: Total Task Time In Hours x Wage of Staff Performing it. Then work out whether investing in a solution pays off within in a 2 to 5 year window. If yes, ask a digital developer for a quote (make sure they include ongoing support).
To get you thinking on the automation track, here are 7 tasks that could be ripe for automation in your organisation:
1. Accounting, invoicing and bookkeeping.
Because they follow set logics, the basic routine and data-entry tasks of bookkeeping are a natural match for automation. Accounting systems are well advanced down this avenue and are now moving into reconciling bank transaction with invoices and receipts. All the busy work in your accounting system is going to vanish one day, at which point your bean counters are going to be ‘bean planners’ focused on advice and creative thinking.
2. Marketing and customer retention.
Through identifying and automatically responding to analytic insights, your marketing messages can tailor themselves to responsively say the right things to the right people. This is already happening in political campaigns. Believe it or not, both the Trump and Brexit campaigns relied heavily on these automated tactics. Their oppositions did not. The results shocked everyone. Businesses have taken notice. Companies are also utilising artificial intelligence to essentially run their digital marketing campaigns, handling the bidding and targeting of users to maximise conversions.
3. Equipment monitoring.
Are you paying someone to watch the dials and wait for something to go wrong with your plant or equipment? Those days are ending. Predictive diagnostics allow an automated monitoring system to use operational and service histories to automatically flag maintenance tasks based on advanced statistical analysis of faults and failure rates.
4. Human resources.
While the human touch of good leadership and empathy is not going to be challenged by machine learning systems for some time, they can still be useful in effectively managing large teams. Analytics for teams of more than 100 employees can tell you a lot about who they are and how productivity is flowing. It can help you set up more effective teams and give staff what they want. Imagine being able to responsively tailor your work environment to staff desires and run events that are truly inclusive and engaging at an individual level.
5. Security and surveillance.
Cameras don’t just record anymore – they can recognise and track faces and objects. Imagine you have a large retail showroom that’s difficult for your staff to monitor. An automated surveillance system can recognise each individual in the premises and alert staff when someone walks in, takes something from the shelf and heads for the door rather than the register.
6. Office busy work.
Printing and copying, data entry and box checking, stamping and initialling, filing and binning – and just paper admin in its totality. It’s all going away. Paperless offices might never exist, but offices are increasingly paper light. It’s a trend that is only going to continue. Staff who used to spend the bulk of their time caught up in admin will be freed up to actually get their work done.
7. Diagnosis and prevention.
Some healthcare practices/providers are already using machine learning as prediction engines to diagnose problems against symptoms and the case histories of patients. These systems are accurate, fast and efficient tools that enable doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to respond more effectively. Similar approaches can be applied to any well-understood cause-and-effect model for preventative purposes.
What automation means
Organisations in the most competitive sectors are always jostling for the next edge. They are already finding that edge when they automate IT tasks and apply machine learning techniques. In the next few years, the automation practices tested and proven in these crucible sectors will filter out to the broader world of work. You should be ready.
One closing thought: even if you automate all IT tasks you will never replace humans entirely. Why? Because your customers are humans and they will always place value on the personal touch.
The world of work is going to increasingly need people in positions where they are valued for the things only humans can do - think creatively, give meaning to products and services and, ultimately, provide genuine, heartfelt customer care.
If you are intrigued by the possibilities of automation, contact Hunted Hive today. It’s a pretty interesting field that’s about to become utterly fascinating.