And then this modern day one: automation technology replaces people.
Over 80 years ago, during the Great Depression, prominent British economist John Maynard Keynes warned people of the “new disease” of “technological unemployment.” Something still feared today, decades later.
But why? Technological advances have always produced just as many jobs as they’ve displaced, leaving no reason to believe this historic trend will ever change.
Why We Fear Automation Technology
The common misconception of automation technology replacing people in the workplace stems back to the Industrial Revolution, when people feared that new technology replacing workers performing dangerous tasks would grow to replace the entire workforce. An idea that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Advances in technology are proven to be more likely to provide new opportunities for human workers than to replace them.
How, you ask?
Think about it this way: word processing and spell check technology work to reduce the time needed to edit documents, spreadsheets reduce the time needed to perform calculations, and automation technology accelerates the business process workflow.
Notice anything? All of the above require human intervention, at one level or another, in order to optimize the use of automation technology.
The Facts Backing Automation Technology
A recent research paper written by James Bessen examined the impact of computer automation on 317 occupations from 1980 up until 2013. His conclusion? “Employment grows significantly faster in occupations that use computers more.”
How is that possible? Automation technology tends to take over routine tasks performed by skilled workers. These workers can then be re-allocated to other areas of the business in order to perform tasks that are of more value to the organization.
Let’s look at some examples:
- Barcode scanners were deployed in the 1980s and have reduce checkout times by about 19%, yet the number of cashiers has continued to grow.
- Since the late 1990s, e-commerce has grown rapidly and now accounts for over 7% of retail sales, but the amount of people working in retail sales has continued growing.
- The manufacturing workforce has grown from less than 12% in 1820 to 26% by 1920 despite widespread labor-saving automation technology.
- Order processing automation technology has enabled companies to process orders 80% faster, allowing staff to dedicate more time to customer support and dispute resolution.
Overcoming Your Fear of Automation
When it comes down to it, companies need to recognize that, just like everything else in this world, the workforce is ever-changing.
By leveraging an automation solution, you aren’t looking to reduce headcount, you’re looking to increase productivity and staff happiness. Because nobody likes mindlessly performing tedious, manual tasks on a daily basis.
Automation technology also aids in reducing costs, increasing time savings, allows for complete visibility and control over your workflow, and other big business benefits.
There’s no need to be scared of an automation solution. It’s not there to replace staff, it’s there to support them.
Want to learn more about creating more efficient business processes? Check out Esker.com for more information on how automation technology can help your business grow to new heights!