What is Workforce Automation?

The continuing automation of different occupations, which is arguably accelerating.


What it is: Workforce Automation is the phenomenon of human work being replaced by automatic mechanisms. Such mechanisms range from physical assets to algorithms. Though Workforce Automation has, in some sense, been going on since the plough replaced laborers with shovels, it’s arguably accelerating with the inception of machine learning and weak AI, with their ability to emulate cognitive tasks.

What it does: Workforce Automation, when successful, replaces human work with more efficient non-human mechanisms. It can increase productivity in various ways, such as increased output and reliability, the reduced need for costly procedures like hiring and firing, and so on. From a historical perspective, it’s one of the major factors in the world’s uptick in prosperity since the Industrial Revolution.

Why it matters: Workforce Automation can have large impacts on a wide range of enterprises. It can entail huge boosts in productivity, and, by extension, the first firms to successfully automate a given process can gain a huge advantage. It also has societal effects: the decline in manufacturing jobs, for example, fueled by automation, has increased manufacturing output. However, employment numbers remain steady as Workforce Automation proceeds, suggesting that new jobs are being created reliably as automation phases some jobs out, at least for now.

What to do about it: Examine whether Workforce Automation could serve your enterprise, by seeing whether a given process could benefit from increased automation through leading-edge technologies such as ML. Keep in mind that the upfront costs of automation can be high. It’s not necessarily trivial, for example, to even completely assess what one employee does in the course of their normal duties, and without this understanding, attempts at automation can fail. Keep an eye on automation in your sector to keep ahead of future disruptions.

Full content available to GigaOm Subscribers.

Sign Up For Free