Should You Use Automation in the Workplace? Check Out These Pros & Cons!
It’s 2022, and robots have not replaced us. However, thanks to advancements in software and machinery, many low-skilled and redundant tasks have been successfully automated. Experts are expecting this trend to continue, and it is predicted that 30% of jobs will be at risk of automation by 2030. To help you determine whether your company should invest heavily in automation, let’s dive into the pros and cons!
Pros of Automation
There have been a lot of recent talks praising automation and how it can completely transform the economy but is that really true? Let’s look at the ways automation can help your business right now!
Let’s face it, computers and software outperform humans when it comes to simple and repetitive tasks. Some tasks that every business should automate include follow-up emails, and marketing newsletters. You can also use automation in people’s contacts extraction for lead gen purposes. How many hours does your staff waste browsing LinkedIn for prospects or sending marketing emails? With simple tools, you can provide better customer service, find better leads and make more sales. Automation can also free up your employer’s valuable time to focus on innovative projects which computers haven’t mastered yet. Automation is one of the quickest ways to increase output and improve overall efficiency. For example, when using accounts payable automation, you can save so much time on doing manual things like short invoice payments, classic invoices, bills etc. Saving time and money is crucial for efficiency!
Reduction in Errors
Humans are prone to making simple mistakes, especially when they perform boring and redundant tasks, and this is where automation can save the day! Automation makes it incredibly easy to keep data clean and up-to-date, as you won’t have to worry about an employee accidentally entering in the wrong value and destroying your spreadsheet or typing in the wrong formula. Computers are less likely to make mistakes when doing simple repetitive tasks, while humans are the reverse. By using automation and avoiding human errors, you can save your company money and time.
Increased Employee Happiness
Who wants to spend their whole day sending follow-up emails and entering data into spreadsheets? Employees become bored when they are stuck doing mindless tasks. Employees want to be challenged, make an impact on a company, and have the opportunity to develop. None of these things can happen when they are trapped performing grunt work. This is another area where automation can reinvigorate your workforce. Zapier performed a survey and found that 65% of employees have found automation has reduced their stress, and 90% agreed it improved their work life. Suppose your employees are stressed out, bored and tired. In that case, automation might be precisely what you need to free up their valuable time and get them focusing on intellectually stimulating and high-value tasks.
Scale & Grow
Every business dreams of doubling and tripling its revenue every year. However, there are often just not enough hours in the day to get all the tasks done, and projects seem to take forever to complete. Automation has the power to improve your workflow and reach more customers without increasing manpower. A simple example would be installing a chatbot on your website that can process sales and handle basic customer support. Other examples would be instead of physically calling customers to make sales, sending out automated text messages, and reaching millions of potential buyers in a fraction of the time. Automation will help your business grow by increasing the speed you can achieve your goals.
Cons of Automation
Before you start automating every possible department and task within your company, check out these common cons. If you don’t pay attention to these downsides, your automation experiment could go horribly wrong.
Cost of Implementation
Automation can save your business a lot of money, but only once you purchase or develop the software, install it, test it, and train your employees. The implementation process of automation can be extremely costly, lengthy, and complex, depending on your business. If your business has low margins and a lack of capital, investing in costly automation systems may not make sense. However, there are basic automation tools that are budget-friendly and require little setups, such as email marketing tools and data entry software. You should assess your business’s individual needs before you start pursuing automation.
Potential for Catastrophic Systemic Errors
Have you ever heard of Knight Capital? Knight Capital was a market maker and the largest trader of US equities. They used automated software to provide liquidity to markets and made millions of trades at incredible speed. Unfortunately, in 2012 Knight Capital suffered an unknown software error that resulted in the company losing almost $500 million in 30 minutes. While it is unlikely that your company will suffer the same fate, there is a risk that automation can cause huge system-wide glitches and cause irreparable damage to your company. This is why all automation needs to be closely monitored. Humans are much less prone to causing system-wide errors as, unlike computers, they can typically realize they have made a mistake before the problem spreads too far.
Need to Change Company Structure
When you implement widespread automation in your business, many tasks and even entire jobs will become redundant. You will need to come up with a strategy on how you will deal with the employees who used to perform these roles. Will you make staff redundant? Create new roles? Merge roles? These questions can become very tricky to answer, and if you get them wrong, you could lose lots of talented and experienced employees. Also, studies have found that middle management shrinks when automation is implemented. You could potentially have a whole tier of middle management with no role. It is very time-consuming and potentially risky to alter the structure of your company.
Have to Train Employees
If only you could purchase some software, install it, and just let it run! Unfortunately, when you implement automation, you will have to train your employees on the new system. Depending on the software, this can be time-consuming and costly. You may also face resistance to change, which can lead to conflict in the workforce. Many employees will attempt to continue using old systems leading to miscommunication and costly errors. As you implement automation, many jobs will become redundant, so you will have to form new roles and re-train your staff to be able to handle these new tasks. Again, this can be costly and time-consuming. McKinsey & Company predicts companies will have to focus on training staff in soft skills such as relationship building and technology skills.
The future that many Sci-Fi authors predicted of robots performing all the labor while humans lounge around the pool hasn’t eventuated yet. In the meantime, we are in a phase where automation is effective for simple tasks but will likely be expanded to more complex tasks over the next decade or two. While automation can be costly to implement and will require you to restructure your business, you can’t afford to be left behind. To grow and increase efficiency, all companies should explore automation and look for tasks to automate.