Technology has allowed us to automate more business tasks than ever before. But does that mean that all tasks should be automated? There are times when doing things manually can still have its advantages. This post explores some of the best times to automate tasks and some of the best times to manually carry out tasks.
When to automate
There are some tasks that are impossible (or very difficult) to do manually. This includes tasks that require huge amounts of strength, precise accuracy or extreme speed. These are the most obvious jobs to automate and almost never worth doing manually.
There are other jobs that humans are quite capable of, however they can be time-consuming and tediously repetitive. Many manual manufacturing tasks like sheet metal folding that involve repeatedly using a press brake are much more sensible to automate as this webpage on sheet metal folding by ESS Steel explains. Few people want to do these jobs manually, so why not automate them?
Automation can also be worthwhile if it saves companies money. While software and machinery costs money, it’s a better investment if it costs less than hiring an employee and does the same/a better job.
Finally, automation is always worth using if it can reduce the need to put humans in danger. For example, it makes sense to install a sensor on the top of a radio mast to monitor for damage rather than hiring a human to regularly climb up and do manual service checks. There are also tasks like automatic fire suppression as explained by Reacton, which can save lives.
When to do it manually
Machines do not fully understand emotions and empathy. There are therefore many sensitive tasks like handling complaints, offering counselling or firing an employee which are better suited to humans. Trying to use software to handle these tasks could be a serious misfire - by employing humans to jobs involving emotional sensitivity, you can be certain to use appropriate wording and put people at ease.
Humans are also better at innovation. While AI can handle creative tasks like drawing illustrations and writing emails using programs like ChatGPT, humans are still ultimately needed to come up with fresh ideas (particularly surrounding new topics). You cannot allow robots to control the entire creative direction of your business, and will still need to have some people pulling the strings (even if it is just coming up with creative ideas for prompts).
Finally, you should consider exactly what it is your customers want. There are many businesses where customers pay specifically to have tasks carried out by humans - such as buying artisan crafts. There are also tasks that can be automated that many of us still prefer to be carried out by humans, such as handling phone calls (automated receptionists may be useful for directing people to the write department, but many of us still want to talk to a human beyond this). Always out yourself in the shoes of your customer when deciding to automate a task, and consider whether they would be happy knowing that it was a robot handling this duty.
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Author - chris
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