The fear of change. On the subject of technological advancements and progress in automation many have a growing sense of fear. Whether it be the unsure business owner fearing the leap to automate processes or the uneasy employee fearing job loss as a result, the fear stems from the misunderstanding and misconception of what automation aims to accomplish.
Enter: The Luddites: The Bigger Picture
Some may be familiar with the rebellion of English textile workers against the introduction of textile producing machinery. These English textile workers later took on the name the “The Luddites” after their acclaimed leader Ned Ludd. The Luddites were completely opposed to these machines for fear of being replaced and their skills being deemed outdated or unnecessary because of the machinery advancements that could do the job quicker and cheaper. One valid point to note is the Luddites began their riots on factory equipment not solely based on the introduction of the new textile machinery, but after factory owners refused their pleas for better working conditions and wages. This was before unions existed as well as standards for working environments and human resources. It can be concluded that maybe they were not fearful of the machinery itself, but instead the method in which their leadership implemented it. Perhaps employees are not afraid of automation itself, they are fearful of what their leadership will do with it. It is my opinion; we should not be so worried about automation but how businesses choose to adopt this automation to improve efficiency and overall working conditions. We must acknowledge the pain points of not only the day-to-day process but the happiness and culture of the entire organization.
The Great Resignation
Automation- noun- the use of largely automatic equipment in a system of manufacturing or other production process. In most cases, automation does not mean without the assistance of humans, but instead means assuming tedious and unfulfilling tasks that allow for humans to have more time to dedicate to rewarding tasks. If you have any experience with technology what-so-ever you will understand that technology is not an “end-all-be-all” in any sense, it has and will continue to have failures and inefficiencies that will require human intervention. If you have a Linked-In account, you might have noticed many new job announcements. This mass movement is being referred to as “The Great Resignation” or “Big Quit” and encompasses the individuals quitting their positions because of limited growth, discontent with current roles, or wage vs workload unbalances. According to Bornet-Barkin-Wirtz from Intelligent Automation, today, over 75% of people are unhappy with their current position due to the work being too tedious and repetitive. Could automating be the key to retaining employees and supporting growth all while creating a healthy workload balance? According to Harvard Business Review, organizations who drive ingenuities to enrich employee experience are four times more profitable than those who do not. The question is not why an organization will automate…..it is becoming clear that the real question is when.
Intelligent automation (IA) can be thought of as automation on steroids. The value of IA is still the same as your standard automation regarding increasing efficiency and freeing employees from weighted tedious tasks. Because IA takes automation and adds layers of other components, such as RPA and AI, it opens the door for a larger variety of process automation possibilities for a larger variety of systems. In a society demonstrating they are fed up with menial tasks and are pushing for greater meaning from their careers, organizational leaders specifically must decide if fear of the unknown is scarier than an unproductive or non-existent workforce.