The Robots Aren’t Taking Your Job: 5 Things You Have Completely Wrong About Automation
Mention automation in any work-related conversation and a sense of dread may sweep across the room. Images spring to mind of humanoid robots and sophisticated machines doing the jobs done by people. People may ask themselves: Can my job be automated? Will it?
Automation is prone to such myths, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Many small and medium-sized businesses rely on automation software to solve everyday problems, eliminate inefficiencies, and increase accuracy. In its most common form, automation complements human creativity, enabling workers to conserve their mental energy for complex endeavors like creative thinking and strategic processes rather than wasting it on mundane tasks. Many small businesses say automation gives them a competitive edge against larger companies.
To better understand how automation is really changing the world of work, let’s review some of the most persistent myths surrounding the subject:
Myth No. 1: Automation Is Taking Jobs Away From Humans
This is not a new fear. Workers have long worried that automation would take their jobs, and for many, COVID-19 amplified those fears.
Despite this persistent narrative, automation software is not really a competitor for human jobs. In truth, automation can be a lifeline, freeing up humans to do the things only they can do. Automation will never match human creativity, and it doesn’t have to. Automation tackles the mundane, time-consuming tasks so people can concentrate on developing the big new ideas that enable their businesses to prosper.
Myth No. 2: Automation Is Only for Enterprise Companies
In the past, automation was expensive, complicated, and reserved for enterprise companies with deep pockets and highly paid engineers. Small businesses were largely overlooked and underserved by the automation market.
Today, technology has progressed to the point that automation is affordable and available enough that companies of all sizes can use it. In fact, automation is now well suited for small businesses, where owners and employees must often wear multiple hats. Automation can take tasks off their plates, allowing them to focus more and juggle less.
Small businesses use automation in a variety of ways. For example, Teambuilding.com CEO Michael Alexis automated a complex lead-sorting process that notifies team members of qualified leads immediately so they can close more deals in less time.
“We never did lead sorting before,” Alexis says. “When we had a smaller sales team, they manually figured out who would take each lead.”
By automating the repetitive task of lead-sorting, TeamBuilding.com has saved time, reduced inaccuracies, and accrued so much business it was able to hire an additional 100+ employees over the course of a year.
Myth No. 3: Automation Requires Extensive Coding Know-How and Developer Time
Historically, building software has required some knowledge of code. That’s changing, thanks to no-code tools that allow anyone to build applications without any coding knowledge — and that includes automation applications.
When the state of Colorado restricted indoor dining during the pandemic, The Perk Coffee Shop owner Austin Gray had to find a new way to serve customers. Gray used no-code tools to create several automation processes to power an online ordering workflow where baristas could create beverages for customers without seeing them in person.
“The simplicity of it allowed customers to place an online order, and our baristas could see it and make it,” Gray says. “This system could easily work for any local restaurant looking to add an online ordering system to their website.” The simple workflow enabled Gray to serve his customers while following regulations and keeping his staff safe.
Myth No. 4: Automation Is the Same as AI
Artificial intelligence (AI) is computer software that uses machine learning algorithms to gather, understand, and make decisions based on data. Smartphone assistants like Siri and Alexa are powered by AI.
Automation, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily use machine learning algorithms. “Automation” refers to any software that can eliminate repetitive manual tasks and create scalable processes. It’s very possible to automate certain processes without AI: following up with leads, scheduling meetings, and even tracking project progress can all be automated without complex machine learning algorithms.
Myth No. 5: Automation Is Too Expensive for Small Businesses
Just like you don’t need a team of expert developers to implement automation these days, you no longer need an enterprise budget. Plenty of tools — like the no-code solutions mentioned above — offer affordable automation options today. Take a look for yourself; you’ll find you can get started with many tools for free.
Small and medium-sized businesses, take heed. There is no need to fear an automation invasion. On the contrary, there are many reasons to embrace one. By delegating the monotonous tasks that take up so much of our days to automation, we can streamline our workflows and give everyone more time to focus on the things that really matter.
Carly Moulton is the director of communications for Zapier.