Riding the Wave of Automation

By Michael Judd


As automation becomes more and more pervasive in our lives, many wonder what the future of work holds. Some people are concerned that automation will lead to mass unemployment, while others see it as an opportunity for increased efficiency and productivity. This article will explore the benefits of automation and discuss how businesses can ride the wave of automation to achieve success. 

Increased Adoption of Automation

The pandemic has caused a steep acceleration and adoption of automation across industries. The fluid response to the pandemic has taught us that organizations must always be agile, reliable, and secure to function effectively in unpredictable times. In a recent AI study by global information technology provider RELX, 68% of respondents increased their investments in AI technologies during the pandemic, with 48% of assets in new AI technologies and 46% of further investments in AI technologies already being used by their companies. Business leaders from both small and large companies say AI has helped their business during the COVID-19 outbreak. 


Research shows that the impact of automation and artificial intelligence will be felt in waves. According to a 2018 McKinsey Global Institute Report, The AI frontier: Modeling the Impact of AI on the World Economy, "Our average global scenario suggests that total full-time-equivalent-employment demand might remain flat, or even that there could be a slightly negative net impact on jobs by 2030." The report highlights human-empowering jobs and how they are likely to be impacted by artificial intelligence and automation. The likelihood of replacing people happens with more sophisticated forms of software automation that involve more complex decisions. This change has given impetus to developing "robotic process automation" (RPA), a tautological shortcut for the software that does this. So far, however, RPA has replaced only the most repetitive and routine work, often affecting outsourcing more than employees. 

The Two Waves of Automation

A wave of algorithms is already underway, including the automation of structured data analysis and simple digital transactions. While the majority of work in the modern world is still manual, workflows and business processes are becoming increasingly automated. Primarily focused on simple work tasks, workflow management systems in this first wave of automation are providing an effective way to simplify and improve workflow creation, monitoring, and tracking. One of the most important benefits of automation is that it can help businesses reduce costs by automating simple and repetitive tasks that humans would traditionally do. This benefit reduces labor costs and eliminates the potential for human error — improving efficiency, accuracy, and productivity in the workplace.

The next generation or second wave of automation will move us into the realm of intelligent technologies like artificial intelligence that will penetrate economic, regulatory, and organizational infrastructure. This technology integrates human decision-making by reducing administrative procedures and time-consuming paperwork and implements decision-making through information input and processing. In the second wave, PwC predicts that artificial intelligence will analyze data from multiple sources, make decisions and take actual actions, with almost no human input. This wave is the automation of decision-making, and its impact is far-reaching. The transition to the second wave of automation will not occur immediately due to the gradual integration of existing management mechanisms (legal, government, corporate) and automated processes. The second wave of automation will be integrated into the human environment through hardware infrastructure. It will rely on a wide range of sensors, ubiquitous connectivity, and the continuous development of computing, storage, and networking technologies to function. This empowerment wave focuses on automating repetitive tasks, sharing information, and developing drones, warehouse robots, and semi-autonomous vehicles.


Why Choose Automation?

A new dynamic of influence has emerged between companies and customers in which customers no longer need organizations to help them make purchasing decisions. No longer is it enough to have an effective marketing strategy; companies need to rethink their internal processes and entire business model to stay competitive. With the newfound ability for customers to make purchasing decisions without any assistance from organizations, businesses are faced with a new dynamic of influence. Automation has provided entrepreneurs and small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with an opportunity that they never had before. By using automation, these companies can save time and money while also meeting customer expectations at every stage of the purchase funnel. 

Small businesses need to be proactive to weather the wave of automation, but they also need to be practical in adopting new technologies. Using these principles will help professionals anticipate and accept change, feel more confident in their business decisions, and take more risks to overcome new challenges. Proactive organizations will become leaders in their markets, much like surfers riding a massive wave of change. Decision automation will eclipse process automation for a decade and will, as we have never seen before, distinguish between people who did and did not ride the wave. By the time the Alpha generation prepares to join the labor market, we will see at least a decade of automation and artificial intelligence killing tasks or completely changing jobs. As automation technology is incorporated into the workforce, the skills required for all positions will change.

Automation technology is changing the way we do business and will continue to change it. The question isn't whether automation will happen but how your organization can ride this wave of innovation to capitalize on it. Our team has decades of experience helping companies like yours prepare for the future with automation and artificial intelligence. Contact us today if you want to remain relevant in an industry quickly shifting from human labor to automated systems. 

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