Automation in the workplace is the use of robotics and control systems to allow seamless and autonomous operation. While the industrial revolution introduced automation in manufacturing – such as the use of robots on the shop floor for the assembly of automobile parts – automation is now receiving attention for its potential to add value to business processes in other sectors.
In fact, automation in the workplace, also known as Business Process Automation (BPA), is a transformative step taken towards streamlining business processes and effectively making things clearer and easier to understand. BPA offers better efficiency, whether it be through automated communication, data storage or procurement. Businesses can improve the quality of their service by streamlining processes, achieving objectives more quickly and delivering service faster. Automation has greatly improved the customer experience at Amazon, for example, by increasing sales through the reduction of shopping time and greater turnaround of orders with next-day Prime delivery.
Automation allows businesses to scale-up quickly and efficiently. In the recently introduced Prime Air scheme, Amazon aims to deliver orders within 30 minutes1. The product is retrieved from the warehouse by a robot and delivered to the customer by an autonomous drone. Automated drone delivery using GPS has also helped deliver life-saving medication, vaccines and blood for transfusions to rural regions in Rwanda, saving many lives as an outcome2.
Automation is now entering all sectors, including the life sciences where companies like Gingko Bioworks3 are reducing labourious manual work in the design of customized microorganisms. This not only improves the designing efficiency but also means that the company can take on more projects which is especially relevant when starting-up.
Additionally, adjusting the culture of your organization to welcome and adopt new technologies in this digital age can boost the longevity of your business. Here are some other ways in which automation can help:
- Applications that offer integrated analytics: these are tools that predict the outcome of business decisions through analysis of previous data and recommend solutions to problems.
- “Intelligent automation” is the combination of artificial intelligence and automation. Through machine learning, a business can build self-learning tools that generate trends from their data.
- Reduced manual efforts: giving robots or drones the trusted independence of performing a job that could be done by a human is saving time for an employee to do a task that could be more fulfilling and bring more value to the business.
While automation may be viewed as a replacement for human labour, it is a way in which businesses can reduce costs and allow individuals to focus on tasks requiring emotional intelligence. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can help alleviate routine tasks and allow individuals to focus on their career goals in the business. Not only is this beneficial to the individual, but also to the company such that the individual is now more likely to work with a creative and self-fulfilling mindset, allowing for a healthier work environment that encourages others around them to feel the same. In the long run, this creates a happier workforce which is key to a successful business.
We have come far from using automation solely on the shop floor to moving this technology into our offices. With applications far and wide, automation offers value to businesses in every sector of the economy, generating efficiency and reducing costs.