21 September 2017
The threat of technology replacing human labor has been around as long as labor itself: during the Industrial Revolution, mechanized looms replaced the need for artisan weavers, and in World War II, Alan Turing invented the first computer that could process data millions of times faster than a human ever could. Self-improvement is no longer an option to outpace the rapid increase in artificial intelligence, as we carry the burden of being restricted by organic matter. Instead, we can expand and improve computers by infinite degrees to perform tasks we could only dream of our own brains performing.
Today, artificial intelligence is integrated into our lives much more than we realize. Just because no JARVIS-style personal assistant has yet to be invented does not mean we should overlook the good AI already provides. Every time we use a GPS to find directions, an AI automatically sources the quickest route; every time Spotify recommends a new custom-tailored playlist, an AI compiles that list for you. These are just simple applications of what has the potential to completely change the way we live our lives for the better if we choose to let it.
It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that lifeless machines performing simple tasks could spiral into a catastrophic case of human unemployment, particularly with the rise of artificial intelligence and automation, which seem to have no bounds to what they can achieve. Economists have already been battling out the solution to this conundrum for years. But as in the past, where technology has taken jobs, its victims have not ceased to find new jobs, often in more fulfilling fields of work with safer conditions.
Even businesses are at risk of taking a hit once automation becomes advanced and cheap enough to perform the same tasks as office workers at a lower cost. It is thus imperative that every business prepares for future restructuring and approaches the automation revolution wisely. Business Process Automation (BPA) is the process of utilizing an automated network within your business that can streamline all sorts of common processes that normally take countless man-hours to conduct. For example, BPA can help you streamline the communication of information, which can be recorded and visualized in a much more comprehensive format than on an Excel spreadsheet.
Employees can also communicate with each other with greater ease using an integrated social network. Further still, automation can help you minimize costs. Taking human error out of the equation not only saves you from needless errors, but also reduces the cost of internal management. You can even use automation to train your employees through microlearning, which implements daily quizzes to help them better understand their field of expertise. Imagine automated software that reminds employees to complete quizzes and tasks within the office, and can even remind you to congratulate them on their work. These functions collectively amount to a simpler, more streamlined form of your current middle management. Each new digital convenience allows you to focus more where your time is especially valuable: in the human interaction with your colleagues and employees. Systems that provide these services already exist, so be aware of the available options before attempting to construct your own custom software to reap the benefits of automation in your business.
Although automation may appear to be threatening certain managerial tasks, it is not necessarily a threat to you. Throughout commercial history, jobs have moved from the mundane to the engaging. The new business environment may likewise see your role move from that of a manager to a coach. Automation is upon us; the question is not whether but when you’re going to adopt it.
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