Flicking the Switch: How the World is Moving from Manual Processes to Automation
Automation might have become a buzz word over the last decade, but it’s a concept that’s been evolving since the 1960s. Taking data-driven processes and handing them over to a computer, started when companies digitised resource planning systems. IBM was at the forefront of these changes but, now, there are hundreds of businesses developing, improving and importantly, using automation.
According to research carried out by IBM, more than 90% of c-level executives use intelligent automation within their companies. Additionally, over 50% say there are key processes that can be improved through automation and artificial intelligence (AI). For the general consumer, automation, which is powered by sophisticated AI, is already a part of life.
Bots Not Only Support But Take Control
For example, customer support is becoming increasingly automated. Bots are more adept at analysing text, deciphering semantics, and coming up with appropriate responses. What’s more, thanks to the power of machine learning, these systems are constantly improving. As the bots handle more requests, there is more data to analyse and, therefore, learn from. The end result is a system of support that doesn’t require human intervention and will continually improve.
Elsewhere online, more specifically, in the finance sector, forex automated trading has opened up the industry in recent years. From a world that was closed to all but a select few, trading can now be done from home and with the help of bots, without much experience. Depending on the program you select, forex bots can control as many or as few aspects of a trading strategy as you like. Through a combination of pre-set conditions and user-defined variables, bots will scan the markets and pick out potentially profitable investments. Like chatbots, automated software in the trading world can be refined and, in turn, refine itself through analytics and self-learning.
Expanding further still, automation is becoming increasingly important in transportation. Commercially, autopilot has been around since 1920. Lawrence Sperry’s “gyroscopic automatic pilot” was a mechanical device that automatically balanced a plane. By the 1970s, things had gone digital. A concept known as fly-by-wire was floated. The idea was that computers could not only do what they’re told but interpret what the pilot wanted them to do. By the 1980s, a version of this technology was introduced by Airbus and it’s been upwards ever since. In fact, this type of technology is now even accessible to the average person.
Automation is Driving Us Forward (Literally)
In much the same way forex bots have opened up trading to novices, Tesla has made autopilot common on the road. Today, Tesla Autopilot is not only capable of speeding up and slowing down a car, it can navigate in all weather conditions, change lanes, and even drive, unaided, to a destination of your choice. Using eight cameras and onboard AI, Tesla cars can not only have better sensory awareness than humans, they can react faster and make more optimal decisions. Even in its relatively naïve state, self-driving technology is changing the face of driving. Within two decades, it’s highly likely that many of the cars we own will drive us instead of the other way around.
Of course, there are times when automation misses the mark or becomes unnecessary. Sticking with Tesla, Elon Musk admitted that production of the Model 3 took longer than anticipated because of he overused machines. In trying to streamline his factory, Musk went all-in on automation and robots. However, that proved to be a rookie mistake. Despite his best intentions, some parts of the supply chain were better handled by humans. Eventually he dialed it in and improved efficiency levels by finding the right balance between bots and people.
This interplay between humans and robots is likely to become to norm. Automation has its place, but it can’t solve all problems. Yes, if a company wants to review data analytics from 2019, pick out trends, and use them to improve their business, automation and AI are fantastic. However, if you simply want to make a coffee in the office, a robot isn’t necessary. Technology is fantastic, but it’s all about balance. As AI becomes more advanced, we’ll see more processes become automated. For businesses, the key to success is integrating these innovations in a way that complements the existing workforce. Crack that, and automation can be an extremely powerful tool.