Leonardo Da Vinci “It’s easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”
Automation isn’t just coming, in many industries it’s already here. Are you and your company ready for the challenges and opportunities it represents? How can you adapt and thrive?
Analysis from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that around 1.5 million jobs in England are at high risk of being partially or completely replaced by automation in the near future. That is around 7.4% of the 20 million jobs that were analysed in 2017. Automation was defined as replacing tasks currently carried out by workers with technology, such as computer programs, algorithms, or even robots. Women, young people, and those who work part-time are most likely to work in roles that are at high risk of automation, which will potentially have a major impact on diversity and inclusion.
Some examples of jobs being replaced by automation are already familiar to most of us. The self-service check-outs that are now ubiquitous have replaced a large number of cashier jobs. Anyone who has chatted online recently to a company’s customer service representative may actually have being engaging with a ‘chatbot’. Other examples are more hidden. Amazon thinks it will take 10 years for robots to replace the workers in its warehouses. A UK online supermarket, Ocado, had 1,100 robots working in a fully-automated warehouse in Andover in 2018.
KPMG has calculated that robotic process automation can reduce costs for financial services firms by around 75 percent, mostly through replacing offshore solutions with automation solutions.
In the Industrial Revolution, machines took over many of the physical tasks we used to do. But we humans were still left with all the cognitive tasks. This time, as machines start to take on many of the cognitive tasks too, there’s the worrying question: what is left for us humans?
The new jobs people will be doing in the future are ones where either a) humans excel at a task or b) we choose not to have machines. This means the only jobs left will be those where we prefer humans to do them.
So what opportunities does automation present to us and our business?
How can we easily recognise areas where we can implement automation?
The best people to ask is our workforce; they will know the opportunities that already exist. Another source of knowledge is listening to customers and seeing what others in our industry are already doing.
Here’s a few tips to recognise easy areas to automate:
1. It involves a lot of data entry (and/or is in desperate need of Optical Character Recognition (OCR)). There’s no reason for anyone to continue typing numbers into excel spreadsheets. If you’re managing a lot of numbers by hand in PDFs or printed documents, look for ways to leverage OCR.
2. It’s repeatable and repetitious. No-one wants to perform the same task over and over. Between mailing and shipping, categorising emails and approving bill payments, automation can take care of many administrative tasks.
3. It has no room for error. Humans make mistakes. But when a typo represents a risk to security or customer privacy, it’s time to automate.
Implementing automation in your business
It’s possible to automate many elements of your business on your own through rigorous work habits, some knowledge of programming, and using available resources and tools. From marketing to customer support and from IT to bill payments, there’s an automation solution or tool for nearly every business process. Try them out. You’ll have more time, save some money, and gain better transparency and oversight as a result.
Here at Da Vinci's Workshop we help businesses prepare for the future, contact us if you want to stay ahead of the curve.
Links to further reading:
Humans Need Not Apply video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU