Wednesday, February 21, 2018
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What does Automation Mean for the Future of Your Business?


The past decade has brought about enormous advancements in IT automations which have in turn benefited businesses with improved efficiency, productivity and even consistency in their business operations. Business owners and experts have consistently relied on automated processes to reduce human errors and boost all round productivity, and this is likely to continue going forward.

But what does the future hold for automation in businesses? Will more job roles be eliminated because of AI and Machine Learning? These are valid questions in the minds of CEOs worldwide. This article aims to explore the role of automation in the future of businesses with a view to understanding the roles that can and cannot be automated.

Business processes that can be automated

One of the biggest concerns since the advent of technology and subsequently advancements in IT automation has been the displacement of job roles as more reliance is placed on machines and computerized processes. The following are some of the key business processes and roles that can and will continue to be automated in line with technological advancements.

Client Management and support

It’s understandable that many clients continue to clamor for a more personalized experience when dealing with businesses and automation already helps with this. Apart from the numerous benefits that come with using email automation solutions to acquire sales, client support can also be greatly improved using the same.

The future of automation in managing and providing support for clients will go as far as managing collaborations and automatically update applications. CRM applications are already incorporating IT automation into their features, but the future will most likely bring about applications that are fully automated.

Marketing

Many businesses are already using automation in marketing their products and services effectively, and this is likely to continue to advance in line with technology as years go by. Nowadays, marketers can at the touch of a single button publish their blog posts simultaneously on their website and social media accounts. Automation software(s) also allow businesses to schedule posts or adverts online without having to return to make further inputs.

In the future, we can expect IT automation to allow marketing executives automatically adjust to consumer behaviors and spending more intuitively, requiring less analysis from experts. This could involve extensively using AI for email campaigns or ad management.

Forecasting

Many businesses, who have embraced the digital era and the technological advancements it brings, already rely on analytics in business projections and aiding effective decision making. As advancements continue to spring up in IT automation and artificial intelligence, businesses will be able to rely on software and applications to autonomously make accurate forecasts based on analytics.

Administrative Processes

The potential for IT automation for administrative business processes such as invoicing, payroll and even time tracking cannot be overemphasized. The future will see these processes become more streamlined and fully automated without any supervision from experts. For instance, automation can easily help an organization track working hours more efficiently, send out and follow up on invoices and manage salary payments.

Business processes that cannot be automated

Although it would be careless to limit the possibilities of automation, now, it makes sense for businesses to be prudent especially with regards to deciding which processes need to be automated or require continuous human intervention. McKinsey suggests that it is a lot easier to automate physical activities that are predictable than unpredictable ones and this is generally the case with business processes.

The following processes and activities should ideally be left in the hands of employees rather than automated.

Recruitment and training

The process of hiring new employees or contractors cannot be fully automated because even though it involves a lot of repetitive steps and actions, it is also highly unpredictable.

Recruitment requires critical decision making and intuition which IT automation does not offer at this point and although the process of determining a candidate’s personality type can be automated, things like body language and self-confidence can only be spotted out by human efforts.

Also, the provision of interactive training where employees need to be able to ask questions and get instant feedback cannot also be automated since it requires the trainer to provide unique answers or feedback relevant to enquiries made.

Crane operations (construction industry)

For businesses in the construction industry, activities such as crane operations cannot be automated mostly because of how unpredictable the environments usually are. Human problem-solving skills are typically needed to evaluate different challenging situations or obstacles to complete projects satisfactorily. Also, the construction of bridges, roads and houses may not be best suited for IT automation now.

Waste Management

Based on current technologies available, it is not possible to automate the process by which a company’s waste is retrieved. Although some countries have started laying down plans to incorporate automation into waste management, this move would involve major infrastructural changes which may be difficult to set up in major cities.

What does automation mean for Jobs?

Like every technological advancement that comes into play to make business processes more efficient, the use of IT automation in businesses will ultimately lead to several job roles becoming unnecessary and even lead to newer roles being created to manage the automated services.

The following are some business roles that automation creates and eliminates.

Roles with high risk of becoming automated

Although automation stands as a threat to many job roles, research carried out by PwC reveals that the automation of jobs is still in its early stages compared to consumer services.  The following are the most threatened roles in modern day businesses.

Accountants

Research by PwC reveals that accounts are at the top end of losing their roles in businesses to IT automation. The numerous advancements in artificial intelligence now mean that businesses can generate detailed financial insights from across the organization without the need for accountants.

However, the PwC research acknowledges that modern day accountants have evolved from number crunching experts into specialist advisors who provide cost savings guidance for businesses.

Auditors

Auditors also find their jobs seriously threatened by IT automation especially because of the compliance efficiency it brings. However, just like accountants, auditors will need to evolve into experts who provide value adding services for businesses rather than stick to the status quo. The only role that is more threatened by automation than accounting and auditing is that of telemarketers.

Roles created because of automation

Around 800,000 jobs were reportedly lost by Britain to automation between 2008 and 2017 mostly within administrative, retail and manufacturing sectors. However, as a result of the evolution of job skills, 3.5m jobs were also created within the same period. The following are some jobs that have been created because of advancements in IT automation.

Cybercrime officers

With increased occurrences of cyberattacks worldwide there has never been more demand for cybercrime officers, especially within large firms. The British government went as far as making it constitutional for large organizations to have a chief cybercrime officer. As machines continue being linked to a central IT system for automation, more specialists will be required to make them less susceptible to cyber breaches.

Software engineers

Because of the global increase in 3D printing technology, software engineers are consequently in high demand. These engineers help create a more stable environment or platform for 3D printing devices which are one of the most common forms of automation in the manufacturing industry.

Closing Thoughts

Times are changing fast, and with IoT becoming more and more the focus of most technological advancements, it’s somewhat easy to believe that every business process will eventually be automated. This is however not the case as there will always be processes that require human intuition or a combination both intuition and IT automation.

While Automation may not necessarily replace many jobs in the next decade, it will most likely affect most as a support mechanism rather than eliminate them.

However, the key to successful business process automation in the future remains in striking a balance between applying relevant technology where suitable and involving human decision-making and intuition in critical situations. This combination will certainly set any business up for success for decades to come.

Bob Buskirk
the authorBob Buskirk
About 10 years of computer experience. Been messing around with electronics since I was 5, got into computers when I was in highschool, been modding them ever since then. Very interested in how things work and their design.
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