Bill Gates famously said “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
Coming from the founder of the largest software company in the world - Microsoft, this observation carries a lot of significance. Historically, the biggest beneficiaries of automation have been large companies with mature processes and professional work force; in essence companies that are run ‘efficiently’. However, over the years, digitization has rapidly levelled the playing field. Today, with the proliferation of affordable and easily deployable solutions, even small companies are in a position to successfully implement automation solutions.
Modern day accounting solutions are a great example of how automation can benefit even the smallest of companies. Accounting software providers such as Quickbooks and Xero have managed to seamlessly connect their client’s bank and credit card accounts to the accounting software. This has greatly reduced the amount of time spent on data entry and bank reconciliations. Moreover, these solutions are available to companies at convenient subscription rates.
In India, finance automation software has been making major inroads into the mainstream space. Online trading service providers have caught the imagination of the avid Indian investor. These companies combine investor education with a robust artificial intelligence based platform to help individuals make smart investments. Similar forays are being made in major Business Process Management areas such as Payroll, Accounts Payable and Receivables.
An insightful article in Forbes India points to the various trends that may emerge when automation increases within organizations. One major scenario pointed out is that “newer roles and skills will emerge”. Organizational roles will be defined to support and manage a technology-focused environment and not the other way around. This will be a major revolution in the workplace and lead to greater emphasis on an artificial intelligence, analytics, mobility and cloud-based work environment. (The high-headcount low-cost approach has already been disrupted.)
Based on these trends, it is a question of when rather than if automation will become a major part of our work lives. It is time we accept this reality and begin to hone our skills to thrive in this automation-driven future.