Inclusive Automation

Automating should not be synonymous with job losses, but an opportunity to empower people to create technology.

I believe I must first explain something that seems obvious but is not.

Automation is about the processes carried out during an activity, consistently and without the need of human involvement. I highlight this, because automation originally exists because there is a person behind it who created it, and keeps it running, and updates its operation.

This is a concept that generates good and bad reactions. The defenders, in which I include myself, assure that it is the path to digitization, because we believe that digitizing is essentially automating processes; getting people to focus on activities of greater value. The detractors assure that it is the way in which companies will lower costs and minimize employees.

Este es un concepto que genera buenas y malas reacciones. Los defensores, en los cuales me incluyo, aseguramos que es el camino hacia la digitalización, porque creemos que en esencia digitalizar es automatizar procesos; logrando que las personas se concentren en actividades de mayor valía. Los detractores, aseguran que es la forma en la que las empresas abaratarán costes y minimizaría empleados.

Both parties are somewhat right. Like any process, automation has its pros and cons, a bad implementation can marginalize many people, in fact, in specific sectors this is already happening, as machines are replacing employees. We should not make the same mistake with software. The key is to prepare workers to control technology and not the other way around. The employee must know and understand how software that runs part of the job works, so he or she can feel empowered and ready and able to correct mistakes and develop better solutions.

Within a company, Automation creates great changes, it goes from having automated people who execute tasks repeatedly but do not add value to the company, to creating business users that focus on the business growth, generating value propositions.

Companies must bet on training their workers, providing them with tools to master technology, just like in the industrial era, where people went from the countryside to work at factories. They had to learn how technology at the time worked and how to fix it in order to continue doing their job.

The next generations started then to prepare academically to develop new machines, whereas the labor force continued to master the machinery thanks to their empirical knowledge, which often resulted in workers being more capable of repairing a production line than engineers. The same should happen with software.

Today, companies only depend on the IT staff to develop updates and / or solve the problems that arise with software. Somehow this dependency is understandable, as they are the ones who understand the code better. But if we continue to feed this process, the rest of the workers will be segregated, and would only see how their knowledge is no longer necessary; also, the tools and web solutions of a company would only carry the view of the developers, who often fail to understand the needs of the final users. This is why all workers must be enabled to understand the software.

Here we must talk about another very important issue. Developers are essential to create Core systems, to build the platforms that bring digitalization to businesses. But they are not needed once technology is running in the company, adapted, and customized to meet the business demands. And this is why an in-house team must be there. Therefore, the technology that software developers create must be accessible and easy to operate and run.

We must simplify coding and replace it with easier-to-understand languages, so that workers with little or no knowledge are not afraid of technology and begin to control it. If we make anyone capable of understanding it, technological progress will not displace people, although this is not to say that it does not require effort and discipline.

Automation is essential for companies of any size to grow and improve their services and products according to the emerging needs of the market, and its implementation should not only lie in implementing technology and forgetting about people, but in creating a symbiosis where both parties provide feedback and improve.

By: Raúl Martín López




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