The Growing Presence of Automation & Personal Augmentation in Business

In most people’s minds, automation is a decision tree process where two ideas are in a constant state of conflict. The myths are that you cannot have the human touch and be automated, that high mechanization means fewer jobs, or that creativity is quashed by computerization. Yet the facts of increased automation do not reveal the loss of humanity that the myths would imply. Let’s take a look.

Losing Life Versus Losing Jobs

At the advent of mechanization in the early 1900s, it was thought that the machine was going to replace the human. In the textile industry, automation made a strong impact, changing the scope of the cloth-making landscape. Working the loom at the turn of the century was an onerous and dangerous job, often resulting in loss of limb and sometimes life. The processes of automation came as a humanitarian transformation, not for workforce redundancy. Even today, the goal of automation is not to remove human labor but to place humans into positions that only humans can do.

Big Versus Small

Hand-in-hand with the belief that the robot will replace the human is a perception of large scale, factory assembly lines with mechanical arms doing all of the work. The truth is that automation comes in all sizes and is specific to the type of work that needs to be accomplished. According to a blog post by o-ring manufacturer Apple Rubber, manufacturing robotics is expected to increase by 10 percent annually for the next decade — and this is just one type of business automation. Marketing, accounting, and customer relations are expected to go up by 50 percent annually. The bottom line of these numbers is that the size of the business is not the driving factor for business automation. Small businesses can utilize systematization processes just as effectively as large companies. Both have the prime goal of freeing the human to be creative and visionary.

Arms Versus Brain

For the small business owner and entrepreneur, it is important to blow-off this idea of automation as a waldo arm doing your work and embrace technology that frees your mind to work on other endeavors. Marketing business software is designed to take the burden of monitoring marketing channels and marking revenue channels off of the business executive. Systems like Infusionsoft and Pardot gather sales data, analyze investment ratios, and track prospects. These are all tasks that would take sales executives hours to complete each day. Ultimately, things like lead generation and follow-up would end up falling by the wayside. Instead, automated business solutions take these vital functions and bring them down to analyzable chunks, focusing the entrepreneur’s efforts on creating a clean, successful marketing message.

Augmentation Versus Automation

It can be safely stated that automation in the business place is here to stay. Whether in the manufacturing world or the business environment, computerization and mechanization has too many benefits to be easily ignored. The question becomes one of human-nonhuman interaction. Robotic arms, marketing software, and computer assisted customer care do not replace the human. Instead, they augment the living worker. Researchers use a sense-assess-augment (SAA) framework to develop systems that increase human performance. Whether you are an astronaut preparing to go to Mars or a small business owner trying to sell your wares, automated systems only serve one purpose: to make you better at what you do.


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