We love software automation. It's what we're here to deliver but will the machines replace us anytime soon?
Time is money. It’s an old cliché but it still rings true. Most businesses are constantly seeking ways to optimise operations and drive efficiencies, and in doing so decrease outlay and boost profits. In short, they’re trying to do more with less. In recent years, adopting new software and digitalising traditionally manual tasks have been key parts of this. This has been driven by that need to save time and resources, but it’s arguably also been prompted by a couple of other major milestones.
First, GDPR, which was introduced in May 2018 and laid down laws which govern the correct gathering, processing and management of data. This prompted many businesses to go digital, replacing paperwork and filing cabinets with software and the cloud.
Second, Covid-19. Consumers flocked to digital channels for everything from shopping and education to healthcare and communication. And many businesses did the same. Regardless of the sector they operate in, they had to ensure that their digital channels and offerings could support this shift, and at the same time, ensure their business could support remote working and collaboration. Technology has been the answer.
A technological turning point
A recent McKinsey report concluded that ‘Covid-19 crisis has brought about years of change in the way companies in all sectors and regions do business.’ It found that ‘companies have accelerated the digitisation of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years. And the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios has accelerated by a shocking seven years.’
Covid-19 was a turning point for many businesses, starting them on a road to digitalisation and technology adoption that will continue in the coming years. Over 60% of firms responding to a second report said that they have adopted new technologies or management practices since the onset of the pandemic, while a third have invested in new digital capabilities. Nearly all of these expect the adoption of new technologies or practices to be permanent and to have a positive impact on firm performance.
Rise of the robots
However, while the positive impact of adopting new software and technologies will be felt by the firm, rapid digitalisation will still be seen as a threat by some workers. This is particularly true of technologies that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. Workers’ fear isn’t unfounded, either; the World Economic Forum (WEF) has estimated that automation will supplant about 85 million jobs by 2025. Software and technologies that feature AI and automation can massively reduce the time taken to undertake tasks which were traditionally done manually, such as data management and analytics. As a result, less human capital is needed which means smaller workforces. Or in some cases, the technology will replace a human job entirely – chatbots are a good example here.
Are the robots really coming for our jobs? Not exactly. Like the industrial revolution and birth of the internet before it, the adoption of AI and automation will displace some jobs and make others redundant, however, it will also create a whole host of new training and job opportunities. In its report, the WEF also predicted that our future tech-driven economy will create 97 million new jobs. The economic benefits are also huge. PriceWaterhouseCoopers reported that ‘AI, robotics and other forms of smart automation have the potential to bring great economic benefits, contributing up to $15 trillion to global GDP by 2030.’
The AI reality
These figures are optimistic, but what does ‘AI, robotics and other forms of smart automation’ look like in reality? It definitely doesn’t look like humanoid robots entering the workplace – not yet, anyway. Instead, adopting AI and automation could be as simple as choosing a business system or piece of bespoke software that replaces traditional means of storing and managing data. Why have multiple humans trawling through multiple spreadsheets and files for data, and having to number crunch themselves (which is also prone to human error), why not automate these processes with software?
At Appdrawn, we’ve worked with a number of different clients, developing bespoke software and applications that help them save time and money. We created a user-friendly system for an education provider, for instance, which allowed it to better store and manage customer data. We integrated a smooth billing process and online payment system which has made these tasks less laborious and a lot quicker than before.
This is just the beginning. We’re likely to see an increased demand for software and applications that automate and integrate AI. IBM found that found that almost one-third of IT professionals surveyed globally say their business is now using artificial intelligence (AI), and a third report their company plans to invest in both skills and AI solutions over the next 12 months.
Is your company one of those considering how best to adopt new software and automation? If so, we can help. Get in touch to find out how technology can work for your business and ‘robots’ can complement – not kick out! – your workforce.