Automation has had a long history in the workforce and has proven to be a boon for workers and for business in general, despite fears that it would leave a trail of unemployment and suffering in its wake. People were concerned when farm workers were replaced by labor-saving machines, though the extra productivity of the machines made farms more successful and needed more human involvement.
The same was true when banks introduced the ATM machine, which threatened to reduce the number of bank tellers banks would need. But the result was quite the opposite. By automating simple, repetitive jobs, the banks were able to find new, more interesting tasks for their bank tellers, leaving jobs at the same level as before, but making banks more productive.
Economists expect the current wave of automation to have a similar effect on the workforce. While more types of jobs are already being automated, there has been no flood of unemployed workers. Instead, automation has also created new jobs that are more engaging because they focus on uniquely human traits, which cannot be automated.
In today’s age where technology is proving to be better than humans at some tasks, and far worse at other ones, everyone benefits when people are relieved of the need to do tasks that are better suited for computers and left to focus on the parts of themselves that are more fulfilling.
When that happens, the workers benefit, the company benefits, and even the public good is served. A more productive workforce makes more products at a lower price and generates income for more spending and more hiring.
Here are four cases of automation that are proving to be beneficial for all involved:
1. Payroll Automation
One of the most onerous tasks in human resources has been the payroll, especially when it comes to large companies with many employees and a variety of special conditions. The vast majority of payroll, as much as 85%, continues to be compiled and processed manually, and like all manual tasks, remains susceptible to human error. By using systems that automate payroll processes, the margin error has been reduced dramatically, and in many cases, eliminated entirely.
Payroll automation is a classic example of automation bringing benefits to all involved. The automation has not reduced the need for human resources workers. It has freed them from a difficult task that is performed better by a machine. It saves money for the company and eliminated or drastically reduced payroll errors.
Instead of spending days, or even longer at large companies, compiling and inputting worker reports on hours, vacations, sick days, and all other payroll issues, the human resource departments are free to focus on what they do best – making the workplace attractive to workers, improving training to increase the overall skill level of its workforce, and recruitment of quality workers.
2. Customer Support
Chatbots have become increasingly popular in recent years as more websites discover the benefits of automating part of their customer support package. The bots, usually located at the bottom right corner of a website, can be extremely engaging and remarkably helpful. Some truly create an illusion of interaction with a real person because the language they use has become so similar to what people might expect from a person they are speaking to through instant messages. Most bots today are capable of answering the most common questions or guiding customers to pages on the site that have the information the customers seek.
If more information is a need, there is usually a human available to take over or get in touch with the customers later. The bot can handle many people at once and does not need to stop working for the night.
By automating customer support through chatbots, companies are able to help more customers at the same time and still provide genuine human interaction when necessary. It has not eliminated the need for human customer support workers. In fact, by improving the speed and accuracy of the support people get when they come to a website, they increase the likelihood that people will take advantage of the customer support that’s available, increasing the need for more workers, not less. All while giving the public better service, building trust, and improving business.
3. Medical Treatment
There are those who scoff at the possibility that machines or robots could ever play a significant role in medical care. But the proof is mounting that the medical field is much improved with elements of automation and artificial intelligence. Machines will never fully replace the human element of doctors, but they are already playing an important role in keeping patients healthy.
Take, for example, the large number of patients in intensive care. Machines can be effective as doctors and nurses in monitoring their vital signs, normal breathing or heart rates. Machines have proven even better at detecting problems early, and are even skilled at reading ultrasounds and other medical exams.
Medical automation saves time so doctors can spend more time with patients, provides more data on patients than ever before, and lowers costs of treatment. If there was ever a case for the value of automation and AI, the medical field would be exhibit A.
The level of machine learning that that has entered the field of translations may possibly be at its optimal. For complex documents, such as legal or literary works, it is too good for any translator not to take advantage of to save time on the first draft of a translation, but it’s still not as good as a human translation, ultimately requiring a trained translator to produce the final draft of any document.
That means that people who require translation services benefit from both the time-saving properties of machines and ultimately the human skill and judgment of trained professionals. The work is done more efficiently without reducing the need for human intervention. More translations can be done in the same span of time, making the products better in the process.
It also points to what makes automation and technology in general so appealing. People are still necessary, but they can focus on just the most interesting and challenging parts of the job while machines take care of the more mundane elements.