Experts and analysts have long taken one of two stances with respect to the rise of automation in various industries and regions – either the technology will hinder job growth, or it will help to fuel economic improvements that lead to higher employment rates. There are certainly arguments to be made for each side of the coin, but the real question is how productive this debate can be with respect to actually getting more out of the technology.
Automation is not going to stop spreading, and it would be difficult to argue against this assertion. The competitive, operational and financial advantages of using these tools are simply too vast for businesses to pass up, while the variety of applications that are involved today is massive, to say the least. Rather than taking one extreme angle or another on automation's place in business, it might be better to travel down the middle of the road.
The Wall Street Journal recently published a blog post from renowned analyst and professor Thomas Davenport, who asserted that the best outcome of automation technology might be the augmentation of performance among human workforce members. This is also an argument that has been made by others in the field, as the human element cannot be ruled out entirely, and the tools might work best when coupled with talented employees.
According to the author, there is no denying the fact that a wealth of entities have started to use automation specifically to reduce staff size and replace what would otherwise be more expensive operational costs. However, this does not mean that it is the best option, nor that this type of thinking will sustain itself for years to come, as the technology is still largely novel for a wealth of industries and business leaders.
Davenport noted that medical firms and accounting establishments have successfully used automation to augment staff performance rather than eliminate employees from payroll.
It is worth noting that one simple answer cannot translate to all businesses, and a certain level of unique thinking and strategizing is necessary to make the right choice in each situation. Automation is becoming increasingly robust and plentiful, meaning that leaders can choose from a wealth of options to fit their specific needs.
Whether augmentation, replacement or otherwise is the right decision will be defined by corporate objectives, missions and requirements.