“The robots are taking over!” is a rallying cry heard more consistently throughout the new millennia, with both political and social spheres arguing the necessity and potential detriment of fast-changing automation in professional settings. Typically married with fears of job loss, dehumanization, and depersonalization, technological advances that result in automation are often met with pushback and unsurety. Automation generally brings forth the imagery of dark warehouses and impersonal service, a hard metal that is unrelatable and almost untrustworthy compared to human interaction. But where does this mental imagery come from? Why is technological takeover synonymous with a loss of control?
Automation Has Always Existed
In a world where everything is constantly changing, especially technology, it might be surprising to know that machine automation has existed in the professional world since the 1920’s, with artificial intelligence making its debut in 1956. With technological patterns older than most of the current workforce, it seems ridiculous that clients and businesses, as well as many people in between, oppose this ‘robot takeover.’ With companies such as McDonald’s, Walmart, Target, and Vons utilizing self-service, machine automated processes, there are daily examples of automation efficiently and ethically using automation to not only improve revenue but also improve convenience for their customers.
Currently RPA’s (Robotic Process Automation), whether it be for Ford or Safeway, has an estimated economic impact of 6.7 trillion dollars by 2025- and that’s before the addition of artificial intelligence that would allow machinery to make more nuanced decisions. In 2019, Forbes predicted that companies without RPAs and artificial intelligence will be left behind, since they’ll be unable to keep up with the quick and practiced processes of the technologically superior companies. While some companies might not need automation for every aspect of their company, for example, McDonald’s taking an order remotely, but having their sandwiches made by a physical person, the data collecting monitoring and analyzing that every company must do needs RPA’s and artificial intelligence.
What is Automation?
Automation isn’t just an assembly line of machines, it offers many different options to businesses of different calibers. From administrative organization to software management to improved communication, automation offers employers and businesses a new level of control and accountability. With automation not only do employers have more consistent control over communication and processes within the company, but businesses can offer more transparency to their clients through automated processes. By almost eliminating human error, companies can ensure equal and uniform treatment of their clients through repeated interactions.
Automation Saves Lives and Money
Rolls-Royce, in 2018, began an automated shipping process in which the cars were shipped via tugboat from coast to coast. Remotely controlled through pre-mapped artificial intelligence, with a small crew in case of system failure, Rolls-Royce successfully shipped cars along Copenhagen. The mooring, docking, and steering were all controlled via artificial intelligence. Because of this success, Nordic ship workers and companies who experienced a sharp decline in business are now experiencing an upswing, crediting the technological advances of maritime automation. Over 70% of ship accidents are because of human error, and the Marine Autonomy Research Site and Michigan Technological Institution predicted that the automation of ships could not only prevent catastrophic and expensive accidents but also improve vessel reliability and reduce production costs by almost 20%. By beginning automation, Rolls-Royce and several small businesses along the Nordic coast not only saved money but potentially lives and assets.
Ocado is a British online supermarket that sells to other markets in a fully automated system. The total automation of the company allows for quick, efficient, and painless sales with little to no errors during the transaction. The move to fully automate the company resulted in higher revenue with fewer returns and positive responses from the clientele.
Machines are not Replacing Employees
A major fear with automation amongst employees is the fear of being replaced by machines. Anti-technology lobbyists often proclaim the evils of it, often without any real source for their fear. Automation does not replace people, a point that can’t be driven home enough. The purpose of automation is to elevate the convenience, speed, and productivity of employees already at the company. Automation is not a replacement, but an addition to a company that will take it to the next level. It should be viewed as a failsafe with employees and machines actively relying on each other to produce a top-notch quality product at the smallest expense of the company.
Transparent artificial intelligence is a come-up in 2019, boasting total transparency between employers, employees, and customers alike. In this day and age, it’s no longer a question of, ‘Will automation help this company succeed?’ but rather, ‘Will this company be left behind without automation?’ Artificial Intelligence and automation exist everywhere, within small businesses and Fortune500 companies. Every day there are more people, more money, and more options for consumers to choose from- and convenience is king.
Guest article written by: Technology lover, information sharer, outdoor enthusiast. Steve Ellis has been with Office1 since 1995. He’s filled many positions from a brand new copier tech to his current position serving as the VP of Professional Services. He has a passion for learning and sharing the knowledge that might make someone’s life easier. He holds several certifications including MCSA and MCITP. He is currently working on his CompTIA CySA+. Steve has been in the copier industry for more than 25 years and has been interested in tech since 2000.