Actually this is a tricky question. Let me tell you why. An organization will select the automation path in order to streamline their business processes, reduce costs due to manual errors and inefficiency, impose accountability and ultimately improve productivity and efficiency. Organizations have a love-hate relationship with paper, right from invoicing to collaboration. This will cripple productivity; hence workflow automation is a top business priority for most organizations. Automation, when implemented in its fullest form, will definitely bring in a reduction in the manual workforce required for that task, but it requires highly skilled technicians or workers to work on the automated workflow systems. In manufacturing sector, especially, automation may cause a slight reduction in the strength of the manual workforce but even here there are incredible opportunities for multi-skilled people which of course comes with its own set of challenges.
Also Read: Office Automation – why and how?
Now that I have articulated why automation is considered important within organizations, let me illustrate some of the latest innovations in automation workflows. ‘Workflow for Apple Watch to make your wrist more powerful’ is the latest brainchild of Apple. The workflows in this novelty automate things you do every day by connecting your favourite apps and services together. With over 200 actions to mix and match, workflows in the Apple Watch can perform a huge variety of tasks like send emails, schedule calendar events, add reminders, find stores nearby and track expenses, to name a few. All the workflows that you have saved in your iPhone automatically appear on your watch without any need for additional installation. Is this automation a need or a luxury? In my opinion automated workflow toys like the Apple Watch show the real potential that humans have but in reality, is an automated workflow essential for me to ‘Find the nearest Coffee shop’ or to ‘Tweet Latest Photo’ in a social website? I would say No. These modern tools are very expensive as using an ‘Apple Watch’ will require an iPhone model of not lesser than the version 5. The more complicated the application, the battery life dips considerably. One major aspect of workflow automation is that we should be able to use the automated workflow long term without any hassles. But novelties like these require constant upgrade to newer versions which is not practical.
Also Read: Powerful Workflow Automation Features
On a lighter note there is another automated workflow or an app that sends sweet texts to your girlfriend automatically – ‘BroApp’. These innovations will ruin human relationship that is already on the verge of diminishing due to all the advancements in technology which has caused us to spend more time with technology than with our loved ones.
All that said about automation, too much of anything is not good. And when automated workflows are designed by the humans they should always ensure that there is a provision for human intervention when things go completely out of control. One such incident is the killing of a man by robot at the Volkswagen plant in Germany. A 22-year-old contractor was part of a team setting up a stationary robot at one of Volkswagen’s production plants in Germany. He was grabbed by the robotic machine and crushed to death against a metal plate. Initial investigations have revealed the cause to be human error as the robot which caused this accident has been programmed to perform various tasks in the assembly process like grabbing car parts and manipulating them.
Also Read: 5 Steps to Workflow Automation
Inventing new technology always keep you ahead of the game. We cannot sit on old technology, producing old products and keep our resources inefficient for ever. New inventions are the way to go in future with agility and speed to produce quality product, on time with superior quality and safe environments. This will eventually lead to employees being re-skilled to achieve higher wages and better jobs. But saddening incidents like these definitely are notes of caution. My take would be automate workflows to the extent that it is helpful for humans to improve work productivity and efficiency, but when it reaches a level where it is overtaking humans, we need to watch out. Ultimately, I believe that automation is inevitable and we are slowly, but surely leading to a world controlled by robots and automated tools. Let me talk about those in another blog post.
What do you think? What are your thoughts on automation?