Automation, RPA, and AI just might be the most popular buzzwords in any business right now. But with that popularity comes misunderstanding and the spread of further misinformation.
So what really is automation and how important is it for modern businesses? Do we need to fear ‘the robots’? Are they coming for our jobs? Or can they actually help us?
Fear of the Unknown
Robots have long been the stuff of science fiction. But, over time their capabilities have slowly crept into reality as their technology has evolved. However, while ‘robots’ in their physical sense are, for the most part, machines in factory environments; in their software form they are really making an impact.
Pop culture aside, what really we need to understand is that bots are just machines performing prescribed jobs. When we talk about RPA (Robotic Process Automation) today, what we’re typically referring to is software designed to carry out a task. It’s really that simple.
Even when we speak about AI, what we’re really referring to are highly complex machines that can come to conclusions and improve their own processes through more data ingestion. It’s not true intelligence and certainly doesn’t resemble Terminator’s ‘Skynet’ or signal end times.
In business we all encounter repetitive, menial tasks which have a time cost associated with them. These can be simple things like writing emails and processing orders.
Basic bots can already take care of many of these types of tasks and can be implemented into a business with relative ease. They are a great way to free up the time of employees so that they can focus on the jobs which actually add value.
People now have begun to worry that an increase in robots might spell the downfall of many jobs and signal waves of mass unemployment.
Thankfully, the purpose of robots is to assist us – not take over. They can act as a way of alleviating pressure on staff so that they can use their own skills and experience to make better decisions.
Using car factories as an example, robots for the most part don’t take care of car assembly; they simply help workers move heavy and cumbersome parts around to make assembly easier.
We are also seeing the use of bots in customer support environments – chatbots. These simple tools offer a great way to thin incoming traffic into a call centre by answering basic questions immediately – saving time for the operators and allowing them to deal with more complex customer issues.
Robots will continue to develop and offer more support to human operators. They will help us become more fulfilled in the work we do – as it will comprise more of the meaningful and less of the menial.
They aren’t going to take over your job or the world – and unless your name is John or Sarah Connor you don’t have any reason to worry about them (!).