Is Automation Coming to Your Industry?

In my past blogs, I’ve talked about why I strongly believe that bookkeeping will become a dinosaur unless we adapt to the implications of cloud-based tech and AI. I’ve also talked about how we’ve integrated this technology into our company, and why we recommend more programs like it for our clients.

Brigade President Elizabeth Manso sitting on bench
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April 19th, 2020
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In my past blogs, I’ve talked about why I strongly believe that bookkeeping will become a dinosaur unless we adapt to the implications of cloud-based tech and AI. I’ve also talked about how we’ve integrated this technology into our company, and why we recommend more programs like it for our clients.

You may be thinking, “Ok, Elizabeth. I can see why an accounting/bookkeeping business would want to adapt to changing technology, but it just won’t happen in my business.”

I have to caution you, are you sure? If your business is highly task-oriented, automation is likely coming to your industry. You need to ask yourself, are you ready to adjust?

Almost every industry is or will be impacted by automation

A 2016 report from consulting firm McKinsey & Company looked at which industries in the U.S. are most susceptible to automation. Where this is happening and to what degree depends on many factors, including:

How “predictable” is the physical work and tasks involved?

If the job involves physical labor in a predictable environment, it can likely be automated. In industries where this factor has the most importance, we’ve seen more examples of robots replacing humans. Examples include assembly line work, food preparation, etc.

Can efficient robots and software replace slower and error-prone human labor?

When this factor has the most importance, there is a mix of automation and continued human necessity. For example, computers do an excellent job optimizing trucking routes, but humans still need to determine goals, interpret results, and provide “common sense” checks/oversight.

Are customers willing to accept a robot over a human?

This is the most interesting factor. Robots may be on a slow road to acceptance, but as the efficiency improves and the glitches are ironed out, it will become the standard.

We’ve come to accept automated bank tellers, for example. As self-checkout becomes more efficient, human cashiers will disappear. The technology also exists for robots to perform surgery, drive cars, deliver packages, serve food, and referee games of tennis, baseball, and soccer. Perhaps these robots don’t “feel right” right now, but in time, they will.

Offering the expertise, not the task

The McKinsey & Company report noted that fields less susceptible to automation include those where there is more interpersonal work involved, and that work requires deep expertise and competencies. If your business is heavily task-oriented, in what ways can you make it more interpersonal and expertise-oriented? In what ways can your customers come to rely on you more for your skills and capabilities and less on tasks?

The bottom line:

When your customers know that you are there to help them succeed and that you are working with them in something that feels more like a partnership and less like a transactional relationship, they will recognize your worth, even in a more automated business world. If you know that you need to invest in this kind of future, let’s have a conversation about how to make it a reality for your business.

Additional sources:
Where machines could replace humans—and where they can’t (yet)
These are the industries most likely to be taken over by robots

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